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Top 5 Standout Players from the EURO 2024 Round of 16

As we approach two days of rest following the conclusion of the Round of 16, it’s the perfect time to reflect on the standout individual performances that defined this stage of the tournament. 

Our review will highlight some familiar faces, but don’t be surprised if a few unexpected names make the list. Let’s dive into the top five players from the Round of 16 without further ado.

5. Jude Bellingham

Jude might not have had his best performance, but attempting a bicycle kick when losing 1-0 in the dying minutes of the game earns him a spot on this list.

England struggled throughout the game, with Slovakia taking the lead in the first half.  Gareth Southgate never found the right formula, nor did he adjust his flawed build-up play. Trippier remained predictable, while Walker’s mistake gave Slovakia easy opportunities. 

But Jude is one of those players whose impact can be felt in a single moment. Bellingham’s confidence to attempt a bicycle kick stood out in a team where most players were hesitant to make ambitious passes. This shows why Jude Bellingham is considered a superstar. In the critical moments, he provided England with the spark they needed.

4. Arda Güler

Arda Güler’s performance against Austria was pivotal in Turkey’s success. Turkey clearly recognized his importance, as the only game without him resulted in a disastrous 3-0 loss to Portugal

Güler’s composure, even amid the chaos of fans throwing plastic cups at him, is exceptional for a player of his age. The Real Madrid prodigy orchestrated the corner that led to Demiral’s goal, showcasing their effective partnership.

The technical level he displays is truly remarkable, blending ambition with control. Unlike many young talents who persist with risky passes regardless of the situation, Güler adapts to his team’s needs.

In probably the most intense knock-out so far, Turkey needed a leader – which they found in Arda Güler. Despite his youth, he displayed maturity and leadership, confirming Real Madrid’s astute decision to sign this Turkish wunderkind. His brilliance has propelled Türkiye into the quarterfinals.

3. Nico Williams

Nico Williams’ story is nothing short of inspirational. Against all odds, Georgia took the lead against Spain for a tense twenty minutes until Rodri equalized. Spain had four different scorers that night, but the most notable was Nico Williams.

He relentlessly tormented Georgia’s defence, eventually landing on the scoresheet. Williams’ journey – from his parents’ arduous trek through the desert to reach Spain – is truly extraordinary.

The Williams brothers have been making headlines for months, with Nico’s older brother expressing his pride in playing alongside him. The pride their family must feel is immeasurable, especially as Nico consistently leads Spain to victory alongside fellow star Lamine Yamal.

Nico Williams couldn’t have performed better, with his family and his club – Athletic Club – watching with pride and emotion, recalling his early years. His story is a heartfelt love story, marking just the beginning of his incredible journey. Paired with Yamal, he forms a deadly winger duo, and he’s likely to make headlines again against Germany in the quarterfinals. 

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2. Cody Gakpo

Cody Gakpo arrived as a promising player to Liverpool, but he has yet to fully establish his signature role in England. However, his performance in the Euro 2024 is a showcase for Arne Slot, Jürgen Klopp’s successor, to take notes on Gakpo’s strengths.

Operating as a left-winger under Ronald Koeman, Gakpo has emerged as the Netherlands’ main scoring threat, surpassing Memphis Depay. His synergy with Xavi Simmons has proved to be key, with the duo driving the team’s creative play. In four matches, Gakpo has netted three times, placing him among the tournament’s top scorers.

Before the tournament, there were uncertainties about who would lead the front line, especially with Depay’s underwhelming form and Frenkie de Jong’s absence. Gakpo has dispelled these doubts by scoring and setting up goals for his teammates, such as Donyell Malen. This explains why he’s at the top of this list, as perhaps only one player had a better performance than the Dutchman in this round…

1. Diogo Costa

It’s uncommon for goalkeepers to feature prominently on leaderboards that typically highlight attacking prowess. You will notice that all the previous players were attacking midfielder or full-time forwards. 

However, Diogo Costa’s contribution to Portugal’s qualification surpasses that of anyone else mentioned. Portugal narrowly avoided an upset through a penalty shootout after 120 minutes failed to separate them from Slovenia.

While Jan Oblak also deserves recognition for stopping a crucial penalty in extra time, Diogo Costa’s penalty-saving heroics were unmatched. Slovenia took three shots, and not a single penalty landed in the net, thanks to Diego Costa. Despite being only 24 years old, he demonstrated that it’s not always experience that prevails; skill and composure play a crucial role too.

Portugal converted all three of their penalties, while Slovenia missed all of theirs. This was the difference between elimination and qualification. Saving one out of three penalties is commendable, but stopping all three on such a big stage, under immense pressure, is a feat few can achieve.

Not many players can outperform Jan Oblak in goalkeeping, but Diogo Costa did just that. Portugal, and especially Cristiano Ronaldo,  owe a debt of gratitude to Costa for single-handedly preventing their elimination.

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