Euro 2016 is fast approaching and as usual, it is a time to see which players rise above the crop to become international superstars. It is one thing to achieve stardom at a club level but only the legends of the sport reach the dizzying heights of greatness at the international level. Here are 10 potential stars that may make a huge impact in France this summer.
This one is an obvious choice. The Portuguese megastar is already deemed one of the best players on the planet and is the singular reason why Portugal is a contender at Euro.
Ronaldo has pretty much achieved everything at the club level. Three Champions League titles (2 with Real Madrid, 1 with Manchester United). Premier League Golden Boot winner in 2007-08. Three time La Liga leading scorer. All time leading scorer at Real Madrid. Two time FIFA Ballon D’Or winner. The only thing missing from Ronaldo’s resume is a trophy from international competition. This may be his last chance.
A rising star for Italian champions Juventus, Pogba is hoping to deliver similar results in his home country. A talismanic figure in the midfield, Pogba is a creative, dynamic force who can change the game in an instant with either a scintillating pass or a thunderbolt to the back of the net.
Pogba is following a terrific legacy of French midfielders. Michel Platini and Zinedine Zidane are legends that won trophies and played marvellous football for Les Bleus. Pogba has difficult boots to fill but he is capable of adding his name to that glorious list.
One of the stars of the 2014 World Cup, Muller is hoping to add to his international resume. The Bayern Munich forward scored a career high 32 goals in all competitions for the Bundesliga champions while demonstrating a versatility that makes him so valuable.
Muller had an outstanding 2014 World Cup for Die Mannschaft, scoring 5 goals including a hat-trick against Portugal. Muller added 9 goals in qualifying, cementing his status as an elite international player. Muller brings pace, a goalscorers’ touch and a knack for the dramatic that makes him a player to keep tabs on.
It’s been a long time since England has lifted a trophy in an international tournament. 50 years to be exact. If the Three Lions are to finally end a half century of misery, they’ll need the Tottenham striker to showcase his skills. Kane did enjoy a sensational season with Spurs, topping the Premier League with 25 goals.
Kane does lack experience in international play. This will be his first taste of the glaring spotlight of international play. We shall see how Kane reacts to the pressure but if he performs for England like he did for Tottenham, England may see success come their way.
After a disastrous 2014 World Cup campaign, changes were coming for Spain. One change will be a more prominent role for the Atletico Madrid midfielder. With the legendary Xavi retired from international play and Andreas Iniesta on his last legs, it will be up to the youthful legs of Koke to lead Spain to repeat as Euro champions.
Koke has been excellent for Atletico the past three seasons and he will finally get a chance to shine on the global stage. He does have a little bit of experience with the national team but this will be his best opportunity to make a name for himself for country.
If there’s a feel good story going into Euro 2016, it might be the surprise qualification of Wales, led by Bale. The Real Madrid winger is a superlative player who can beat you with blazing pace, quality service or a precise set-piece with his left foot.
Bale was enormous during qualification for The Dragons, scoring 7 goals despite having the opposition focused squarely on stopping him. Wales are a long shot in the tournament but if they do become the surprise of the tournament, it will be Bale leading the charge.
There may be no more spectacular player at Euro than the Swedish striker. Ibrahimovic is famous for some jaw-dropping goals that have left both opponents and teammates in awe.
Ibrahimovic may be playing for more than glory for country. There are reports suggesting that Manchester United are willing to pay a handsome sum to lure Ibrahimovic away from his current club, Paris St-Germain. A strong showing at Euro could make his asking price skyrocket. Stay tuned.
Another player that might see a big payoff if he shines at Euro. The Polish striker had a fantastic season with Bayern Munich scoring 42 goals in all competitions. His size and football sense around the net make him a lethal threat.
Lewandowski’s name has come up in transfer rumours as Real Madrid have expressed interest in acquiring the giant Pole. Bayern Munich have denied they are shopping Lewandowski for cash but if Lewandowski performs well at Euro, Real Madrid may put more money on the table which could make Bayern take the cash and let their leading goalscorer walk away.
Kevin De Bruyne:
The Belgian winger isn’t known for goal scoring but De Bruyne is a creative dynamo that can deliver exquisite service to his strikers. De Bruyne had a satisfactory first season with Manchester City, especially in the Champions League. His sublime winner against Paris St-Germain in the quarterfinals is the greatest goal by any City player in European competition.
Belgium are expected to contend for the Euro title and they will need De Bruyne to be at his peak, if they expect to meet high expectations.
Stephan El Shaarawy
Most observers aren’t rating Italy very high in this tournament. For the Azure to prove the doubters wrong, they’ll need the diminutive forward to break through on the international level.
El Shaarawy spent the entire 2015-16 season on loan away from his club at AC Milan, splitting time with Monaco and Roma. Even though he didn’t have a permanent home, El Shaarawy still managed 34 goals in all competitions between the two clubs.
There are two lingering questions with El Shaarawy. How will he handle the pressure of a tournament like Euro? Also, will he be distracted by him not sure of where he will play next season? How El Shaarawy deals with both the expectations and distractions could determine Italy’s fate.
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