What a breathtaking group stage it was! Some of the matches and goals were right there at the top and already a part of football’s folklore.

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From today, the Round of 16 would start and let us take a look at the stars of the group stage.

Cristiano Ronaldo

The man is nothing but amazing.

Yet again, he is carrying the whole team on his shoulders.

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He scored two of the most breathtaking goals during the group stages and also, smashed records – which is nothing but a normal day-to-day job for the best player in the world.

Romelu Lukaku

The Inter forward is Cristiano Ronaldo’s biggest threat in the race to finish as the top goalscorer this summer.

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His connection with Kevin De Bruyne is frightening for opposing defences, and he has three goals to his name already.

Luka Modric

Like Cristiano Ronaldo, the older he is getting, the better he is becoming. He is pushing his limits and taking himself to that point where the greats share the same platform.

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Moreover, he is leading his team like the leader of men and that goal against Scotland hinted at what the greatness of Modric means.

Karim Benzema

He was included in the French squad since 2015 and he did not disappoint at all.

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His brace against Portugal oozed class.

Especially the second goal was the perfect example of clinical finishing.

N’Golo Kante

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One of the linchpins of French midfield – against Germany and so on, he was like a fort and shut down the opponents with his marking abilities and when needed mobilized the midfield with his playmaking qualities.

Paul Pogba

The man might not shine in Old Trafford but whenever he dons the blue shirt, he is a different kettle of fish.

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Along with Kante, he developed a dynamic combo at the midfield where he dictates the game and his pressing had been high quality. That trivela against Germanyand the pass to Benzema at Budapest had been one of the abiding moments of the group stages.

Manuel Locatelli

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Sassuolo’s regista has been the big surprise with Roberto Mancini’s Italy. Only playing because of Marco Verratti’s absence, he was excellent against Turkey and then scored twice against Switzerland. Both Domenico Berardi and Leonardo Spinazzola have also done well for the Azzurri.

Georginio Wijnaldum

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He should have joined Barcelona this summer, but instead, it’s Paris Saint-Germain who will be rubbing their hands together watching his performances for the Netherlands. Only Cristiano Ronaldo has more than his three goals.

Denzel Dumfries

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PSV Eindhoven’s right-back is tearing things up, scoring two goals and being the star of the match twice as well. He’s likely to have suitors this summer.

Patrik Schick

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Things haven’t always gone to plan for the forward in his career, having seen things go off track after leaving Sampdoria for Roma. But he scored the goal of the tournament from 50 metres against Scotland, and then again against Croatia to take his tally to three goals.

Goran Pandev  

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Bowing out of international football by debuting in a tournament, Pandev scored in a 3-1 loss to Austria that made him the second-oldest goalscorer in the tournament’s history. He hung up his international boots with 122 caps and 38 goals.

Billy Gilmour

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The Chelsea youngster has a lot of talent, and he stole the show in Scotland’s scoreless draw with England in the second round. He was the star of the match, but a positive COVID test ruled him out of their decisive meeting with Croatia.

Joel Pohjanpalo

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The Union Berlin forward has been haunted by injury throughout his career, and his winner against Denmark – in a game remembered for other reasons – was his country’s first at a European Championship.

Mikkel Damsgaard

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Replacing Christian Eriksen was never going to be easy, but the Sampdoria starlet has stepped up. He scored a stunner to open the scoring in the 4-1 win over Russia that sent Denmark into the last 16, and became the first player born in the 21st century to score at the Euros.

Emil Forsberg

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He’s scoring the goals for Sweden and has three to his name, allowing them to progress to the knockout rounds despite a few beforehand tipping them to emerge from their group.

David Alaba

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Real Madrid’s latest signing is a weird player for Austria, playing as a playmaker from out wide but not at the expense of the team’s shape. He does it all, and he has helped his side into the last 16 where they’ll meet Italy.

Robin Gosens

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Serie A’s players are dominating this summer and Atalanta’s flying wing-back is one of them, most of all in the 4-2 win over Portugal wherein he scored, assisted and forced an own goal. He was the star of the match and put in arguably the best individual performance of the summer so far.

Attila Szalai

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A few players have stepped up for Hungary, but none more than the Fenerbahce defender has. His side were six minutes away from progressing from the group of death with each of the last two world champions and the reigning European champions.

 

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