Euro 2020 has provided football fans with a glimpse of players from across the continent, with both familiar faces and lesser-known names all impressing during the tournament’s opening stages.
We’ve decided to pick out some of players from outside Europe’s major leagues who have made a strong impression during the opening games.
Denzel Dumfries – Netherlands
The Netherlands have cruised into the knockout rounds at Euro 2020, sealing successive wins against Ukraine, Austria and North Macedonia to secure their place in the last 16 with a 100 percent record in Group C.
Frank De Boer’s youthful side have impressed on their major tournament return, with the former Dutch international having utilised a 3-4-1-2 system during the opening fixtures.
That system has allowed PSV Eindhoven wing-back Denzel Dumfries to star with the marauding right-sided defender having been one of the Netherlands’ best performers, showcasing his pace, power and end product.
The 25-year-old was excellent in scoring a later winner against Ukraine and pivotal to the win over Austria, winning a penalty during the latter fixture after a trademark surge into the opposition penalty area.
✅ First two Euro matches
✅ First two international goals
✅ First two Star of the Match awards for 🇳🇱
TAKE NOTICE OF DENZEL DUMFRIES 👀 pic.twitter.com/gXD54VrZTp
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) June 17, 2021
Dumfries then made it two goals in two – his only two goals in 21 caps at international level – after tapping in Donyall Malen’s cross, his endless energy again evident as he burst into the box late on.
Everton had been strongly linked with a move for the right-back this summer who reportedly has a release clause of just €15m, though interest is likely to be high for Dumfries who looks like a potential bargain at that price based on his Euro 2020 performances to date.
Roman Yaremchuk – Ukraine
Roman Yaremchuk will have been a relative unknown pre-tournament for casual fans, with the Ukraine number nine playing his club football in Belgium for Gent.
The 25-year-old has scored 40 goals in all competitions over the past two seasons for Gent and has impressed since making his international debut three years ago, netting 10 times 26 caps including twice already at Euro 2020.
Yaremchuk has been the perfect focal point for a talented and technical Ukraine side, who finished third in Group C behind the Netherlands and Austria following a defeat to the latter in the final group game.
Yaremchuk has combined brilliantly with captain Andriy Yarmolenko so far, with Atalanta midfielder Ruslan Malinovskyi providing creativity in a deeper role behind the front line.
The 6ft 3in forward has the physical attributes to thrive in the Premier League and has been linked with a move to West Ham in recent weeks, the Hammers searching for a new number nine to lead the line.
Rafa Silva – Portugal
Portugal got their Euro 2020 campaign off to a winning – if a little unconvincing – start against Hungary, leaving it late to secure a 3-0 win in their Group F opener.
Cristiano Ronaldo stole plenty of headlines after scoring twice to become the European Championship’s all-time record goalscorer, though it was the impact of substitute Rafa Silva that helped swing the game in Portugal’s favour.
The Benfica midfielder came off the bench to set up Raphael Guereirro’s opener, before winning the penalty for the second after a sharp turn took him away from Hungary defender Willie Orban.
The 28-year-old then combined brilliantly with Ronaldo to assist Portugal’s third, having a direct hand in all three goals despite only arriving into the fray after 71 minutes.
Rafa can count himself hugely unfortunate to have not started the following defeat to Germany and Portugal boss Fernando Santos must surely be deliberating whether to include the star from the start ahead of a huge showdown with France on Wednesday.
Kieffer Moore – Wales
Wales booked their place in the last 16 after finishing second in Group A, a side largely containing lower league talents upsetting the odds on the international stage once more.
It helps, of course, to have talents such as Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey amongst their ranks, but key to the supporting cast has been Cardiff City forward Kieffer Moore.
The 28-year-old has risen from non-league to the second tier of English football in recent seasons, enjoying the best campaign of his career with 20 goals in the Championship in 2020/21.
Moore has also handled the step up to international football admirably with six goals in 20 caps, including a brilliant – and crucial – header to rescue a point against Switzerland in Wales’ Group A opener.
He was restricted to less service during the win over Turkey, but what he lacked in opportunities he more than made up for with relentless work-rate and a link-up play that helped Wales progress up the pitch.
His defensive work at set-pieces is another aspect of his game that should not go under the radar, the fairytale set to continue for the towering target-man as Wales’ underdogs look to replicate their exploits of five years ago.
Mykola Matviyenko – Ukraine
Another member of the Ukraine side, Matviyenko has been linked with a number of Premier League clubs in recent seasons following his performances for Shakhtar Donetsk.
Ukraine may have finished their group campaign without a clean sheet, but centre-back Matviyenko has shown he has the quality to step up into one of Europe’s major divisions with his passing from the back particularly impressive.
The 25-year-old – who can play centrally and at left-back – lacks the stature of most modern centre-backs, but his quality in possession and committed defending will no doubt have impressed onlooking recruitment staff.
A product of the academy system at Shakhtar, he could be the latest player sold on by the Ukrainian side for a huge profit with Matviyenko linked with clubs including Everton, West Ham, Leeds and Arsenal last summer.
Read Also – Euro 96: The summer of Sammer