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Euro 2024 – Best XI from the opening round of fixtures

Euro 2024’s first fixtures have been concluded and we’ve seen each of the competing teams in action this summer.

Following the first round of games at the European Championship, we’ve selected our best XI.

Euro 2024 – Team of the Week from the opening round of fixtures:

Goalkeeper: Unai Simon – Spain

The Spanish shot-stopper made some big saves as La Roja beat Croatia to open with a win, with the Croatians recording a higher xG (2.38) than Spain (2.01) despite their heavy 3-0 defeat.

Simon made five saves, including a penalty stop from Bruno Petkovic, to ensure a clean sheet for Luis de la Fuente’s side.

Right-back: Dani Carvajal – Spain

Incredibly, for all his achievements, Dani Carvajal had never played at a European Championship before this week. The Real Madrid right-back celebrated his first appearance at the tournament with a maiden goal for Spain, prodding home the third in the 3-0 win over Croatia.

It continues an unexpected purple patch for the defender, who also netted in the Champions League final as he claimed a record-equalling sixth European Cup this season. A decade on from his international debut, he’s keen to make up for lost time after missing Euro 2016 and 2020 through injury.

 

Centre-back: Milan Skriniar – Slovakia

Milan Skriniar is the star name in the Slovakia side and the captain led by example in a huge win against Belgium. The Paris Saint-Germain centre-back made four clearances, blocked two shots, and anticipated danger throughout with his positioning.

Alongside the impressive David Hancko, Denis Vavro and the evergreen Peter Pekarik, Slovakia has a backline that can be the foundation of progression to the knockout rounds.

Centre-back: Alessandro Bastoni – Italy

Italy’s new defensive leader after a squad role in their success at Euro 2020.

Bastoni might have been disappointed with a lack of sharpness for Albania’s early opener but the Inter Milan centre-back made amends from there. He hauled the Azzurri level with a fine header and was a standout at the heart of the defence.

Bastoni completed 96.5% of his passes, including five long passes, and racked up three clearances.

Left-back: Michel Aebischer – Switzerland

Switzerland started Euro 2024 with a bang after comfortably beating an awkward Hungary side. Michel Aebischer was the hero for the Swiss with a goal and assist, operating in an unfamiliar left wing-back role for Murat Yakin’s side.

The Bologna midfielder has had a memorable campaign with the Italian side, securing Champions League qualification, and started the summer in style.

Midfield: Stanislav Lobotka – Slovakia

Slovakia produced the upset of round one after beating a Belgium team ranked third in the world.

A disciplined defensive performance helped Slovakia to a 1-0 win with Stanislav Lobotka a cool head in the side. The Napoli midfielder was metronomic in midfield, alleviating periods of pressure with composure in possession.

Midfield: Fabian Ruiz – Spain

Spain sent a statement with a 3-0 thrashing of Croatia as La Roja raced into a three-nil lead before the break. Fabian Ruiz continued his standout form for the national team with a goal and assist, splitting open the Croatian defence to set up Alvaro Morata’s opener, before scoring a stunning solo second.

“What can I tell you about Fabian Ruiz? He’s an exceptional player, he’s at the top level,” Spain coach Luis de la Fuente purred.

Midfield: Jude Bellingham – England

Past tournaments have seen the England shirt weigh heavy on some. You get the impression that Jude Bellingham does not feel such pressure. The 20-year-old was at his all-action best in England’s 1-0 win over Serbia and scored the decisive goal with a brave header as he crashed into the box.

After a stunning debut season at Real Madrid, in which Bellingham was named La Liga Player of the Season, the midfielder looks determined to make his mark at Euro 2024.

Right-wing: Arda Guler – Turkey

Many have tipped Turkey as dark horses for this tournament and an entertaining 3-1 win over Georgia ensured Vincenzo Montella’s team started with a win. Much of the hype has centred around Arda Guler, who ended the season in stunning form for Real Madrid with five goals in five games.

The 19-year-old delivered on his wonderkid billing with a man-of-the-match performance against Georgia, that included breaking Cristiano Ronaldo’s record as the youngest-ever debutant scorer at a European Championship. His goal might just be the best scored this summer, bent beautifully into the top corner from distance to cap an outstanding outing.

Left-wing: Jamal Musiala – Germany

An absolute delight to watch. Musiala’s masterclass left the Tartan Army twisted in Munich as the midfielder danced and weaved a route through the Scotland defence. He doubled Germany’s early lead with a finish lashed into the top corner and gave Anthony Ralstron a truly torrid time.

His fleet-of-foot leaves defenders for dead and time and time again Musiala did so. You can’t take your eyes off of the 21-year-old when he is in this mood.

Forward: Kai Havertz – Germany

After experimentation in a left-back role during Julian Nagelsmann’s first games in charge, Havertz looked the part leading the line for Germany on opening night. The Arsenal forward continued his club form from an excellent run-in with a goal and assist as the hosts thrashed Scotland 5-1 in Munich.

His movement was intelligent and vibrant all evening, while his penalty was confidently dispatched to open his account at Euro 2024. Nagelsmann has two in-form options to select from with Niclas Füllkrug, a more traditional target man, outstanding off the bench.

Read – Five of the best European Championship teams of all time

See more – The five oldest goalscorers in European Championship history

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