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Our Euro 2024 awards for the tournament’s group stage

As the dust settles on the Euro 2024 group stage and with time to catch our breath before the knockouts, it’s time to reflect on the tournament so far.

Our Euro 2024 awards honour the best – and worst – of the group stage action.

Best Moment 

Group B was billed as the Group of Death pre-tournament and ended in dramatic fashion.

As Spain cantered to first place, Croatia looked set to condemn holders Italy to an early exit. Leading through Luka Modric’s goal deep into stoppage time, Croatia were on course for the knockouts and the Azzurri were facing an embarrassing elimination.

Then came a twist in the tale as Mattia Zaccagni secured the Italians a Lazarus-like return to life in the tournament. Riccardo Calafiori’s driving run opened up the space for Zaccagni who bent a beautiful finish into the far corner, a 98th-minute bolt from the blue to send Italy through and Croatia crashing out.

An honourable mention for Christian Eriksen scoring Denmark’s first goal of the tournament. Three years ago, the midfielder collapsed at Euro 2020 and required life-saving treatment on the pitch. After returning to the sport, he celebrated a wonderful moment with a major tournament goal for the Danes.

Best Player 

Football will miss Toni Kroos.

The Germany midfielder has been in Kroos-control throughout the group stage as the metronomic heartbeat of Julian Nagelsmann’s side.

The 34-year-old leads the tournament for passes into the final third, progressive passes, passes completed, and passes completed inside the final third, while just three players have created more chances.

His return to the Germany squad has helped turn the host nation into real contenders, with his immaculate control of games. The dream send-off is a real possibility for the soon-to-retire great.

Breakout Player

It might be a stretch to call Nico Williams a breakout player given his excellence at Athletic Bilbao across the last two seasons, but this certainly feels like a coming-of-age tournament for the winger.

Spain have been the most impressive outfit at Euro 2024 and qualified for the knockout rounds with a perfect record and no goals conceded. La Roja have moved on from their tiki-taka era with Luis de la Fuente’s team built around the dynamic wing-partnership of Williams and Lamine Yamal. Despite a combined age that is younger than Cristiano Ronaldo, the duo have dovetailed to devastating effect in the group stage.

Williams has impressed with his fleet-of-foot and desire to take on defenders, setting off a scramble for his services. A £43m release clause looks real value.

Best Goal

Turkey have been great entertainment at Euro 2024 with the Crescent-Stars compiling their own Goal of the Tournament competition.

Mert Müldür and Hakan Çalhanoğlu each had contenders of their own, but it’s Arda Güler who claims our Best Goal of the group stage.

A stunning strike from the Real Madrid teenager.

Best Game

Güler’s Golazo came in our favourite game of the tournament so far as Turkey took on Georgia in an epic.

A pre-game storm continued onto the pitch with a thunderous atmosphere and swirl of chaos. Tournament debutants Georgia – the lowest-ranked team in the tournament and only qualifiers through the Nations League route designed to help the cause of minnows – gave their all, with the contest packed full of end-to-end action and quality in moments.

Mert Müldür lashed a stunning volley into the top corner for Turkey, before Güler guided an unstoppable effort into the top corner after Georges Mikautadze netted Georgia’s first-ever tournament goal.

In stoppage time, Kerem Akturkoglu sealed the win on the break, turning in an open net after a lung-busting run on the counter, with Georgia goalkeeper Giorgi Mamardashvili thrown up for a set piece.

Best Upset

Slovakia stunned Belgium in a mad-cap Group E that saw all four teams finish on four points, but the upset of the group stage is Georgia’s 2-0 win over Portugal.

The 74th-ranked team in the world beat a heavily-fancied (if rotated and already qualified) Portuguese team in their final fixture to progress to the knockout rounds in their first-ever major tournament.

Just look at those scenes.

Best Stat

If ever there was a statistic to show England’s issues, this is it.

Best Tweet

The England memes have been far better viewing than the football from Gareth Southgate’s side so far…

While Scotland suffered perhaps the most awkward Auf Wiedersehen in history…

Read – Euro 2024 – Best XI from the tournament’s Group Stage

See more – Euro 2024 Golden Boot standings as big names fail to fire

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