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Euro 2024 – Best XI from the second round of group games

Following the second round of group games at Euro 2024 we’ve selected our best-performing XI.

Goalkeeper: Giorgi Mamardashvili – Georgia

Giorgi Mamardashvili was not short of suitors heading into this summer’s transfer window but the Georgian goalkeeper might just have added to his list of admirers.

The 23-year-old – who has been linked with Newcastle – was outstanding in his side’s 1-1 draw with the Czech Republic, making more saves (11) than any goalkeeper has managed in a European Championship game for two decades.

A commanding presence in the air and fine shot-stopper, Mamardashvili could mature into one of world football’s finest.

Right-back: Joshua Kimmich – Germany

Reverting to right-back has not diminished the attacking threat of Joshua Kimmich who continues to offer a creative outlet for the hosts. Against Hungary, Kimmich created four chances and completed 97.3% of his overall passes. His defensive work has not quite been up to the same standard, but a late goal-line clearance was crucial to Germany keeping a clean sheet and avoiding late pressure.

Centre-back: Joachim Andersen – Denmark

Comfortable and composed throughout as Denmark drew with England. The Crystal Palace centre-back won 100% of his duels in the air (5/5) and demonstrated the expansive passing which has become his trademark at Selhurst Park with five accurate long balls.

He was rarely troubled and dealt with the threat of club teammate Eberechi Eze late on.

Centre-back: Pepe – Portugal

Is this man really 41 years old?

A terrific performance from the Portugal centre-back who used all his experience to thwart Turkey. A crunching challenge on Orkun Kokcu was Pepe personified and he departed to a deserved ovation from both sets of supporters. Pure class.

Left-back: Marc Cucurella – Spain

Continues to justify his inclusion ahead of Alejandro Grimaldo and build on a strong end to the club season with Chelsea.

Cucurella did not give Federico Chiesa a sniff all evening against Italy, a lockdown performance that saw the Spaniard win 10/13 duels, five tackles, and make three interceptions. His distribution (98.1% completion) was also of the highest standard. After a tough period, Cucurella is enjoying a renaissance for club and country.

Midfield: Fabian Ruiz – Spain

Spain have been arguably the most impressive team in the tournament so far and Fabian Ruiz has been a driving factor in that. The 28-year-old has not always been the most popular player for club or country, but is the heartbeat of La Roja right now.

After a stunning goal in Spain’s first fixture, Ruiz has shown he can do it all in midfield. He leads the tournament for possession won (21) and possession won in the final third (7), while no player has regained possession more times in a single fixture than Ruiz against Italy (14) in round two.

Midfield: Kevin De Bruyne – Belgium

Came to the fore when Belgium needed him to kickstart their Euro 2024 campaign. De Bruyne was involved in the thick of the action and could have had a hatful of another night. He ended the win over Romania with three chances created, 11 duels won, and the crucial second goal. A much-needed response to their setback against Slovakia.

Midfield: Ilkay Gundogan – Germany

Ilkay Gundogan is proving impossible to pick up for opposition teams as the German ghosts around the final third. Scotland struggled with his movement on opening night and Gundogan’s intelligent movement hurt Hungary as the hosts booked their place in the knockout rounds.

He set up Jamal Musiala’s opener in the win and scored the second with a sweeping finish. The German captain is a wonderful footballer.

Right-wing: Bernardo Silva – Portugal

A first-ever major tournament goal from Portugal’s indefatigable midfielder, who has covered more distance at Euro 2024 than any other player. After a quiet first game, Bernardo brought his usual spark to the 3-0 win over Turkey with four chances created, eight touches inside the opposition box and an important goal.

This was Bernardo’s 58th game of the season for club and country but you wouldn’t have known. Endless energy from the Manchester City creator.

Left-wing: Nico Williams – Spain

Catch him if you can. The 21-year-old was Italy’s tormentor-in-chief as Spain recorded a 1-0 win to secure their place in the knockout rounds.

After spurning a good early chance, he gave Giovanni Di Lorenzo a torrid time down the left flank and his cross led to the winner. Came close again after hitting the post and his off-your-seat brand of football is defining a new Spain. A £43m release clause is looking hugely attractive to top clubs.

Forward: Marko Arnautovic – Austria

Austria are living up to their dark horse tag, after thrashing Poland to get up and running at Euro 2024. Marko Arnautovic led the line in a performance packed full of intensity from Ralf Rangnick’s men and was involved throughout.

The 35-year-old intelligently dummied Alexander Prass’s pass for Christoph Baumgartner to score the second before converting the third from the spot – becoming the third-oldest player to score a penalty at the European Championship. He offered Austria an outlet all game and won six duels.

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