There were plenty of star performers at UEFA Euro 2020, writes Oli Coates, but there were also some Serie A players who failed to live up to the hype.
Serie A was represented by 71 players at EURO 2020, the second-highest number of any league. As we reflect on a tournament that restored Italy to the highest echelon of European football, it’s time to look at some of the players who represented other countries at the European Championship. Here we take a look at three of the best non-Italian Serie A performers at the Euros, as well as three of the biggest flops.
Top of the pops
Portugal may have been knocked out of the tournament in the Round of 16, but Juventus forward Ronaldo still managed to finish as the top scorer. He was superb in the group stage, netting five goals in three appearances. Ronaldo also contributed an assist, and his fewer minutes on the pitch than Czech Republic’s Patrik Schick, who notched five goals too, won him the Golden Boot. What makes Ronaldo’s achievement all the more impressive is that Portugal’s four opponents at the Euros included France, Germany and Belgium.
Lukaku’s Inter took the Serie A title from Ronaldo’s Juve last season, and the Belgian also helped knock the Portuguese out of the Euros. The Red Devils beat Portugal 1-0 in the last 16, although they lost 2-1 to Italy in the next round. Lukaku scored the last of his four goals from the penalty spot in the quarter-finals, giving his adopted homeland a nervy second half. Belgium were unable to back up their status as the number one-ranked team in the world, but Lukaku was able to cement his standing among the world’s best strikers.
Denmark’s progress to the semi-finals was one of the most positive narratives through the Euros, given the traumatic episode surrounding star man and Inter playmaker Christian Eriksen in their opening match. The Danish Dynamite exploded into life, leaving an indelible mark on the tournament. Sampdoria forward Damsgaard scored two goals in the competition, with his rocket of a free-kick putting the Danes into a shock lead against England at Wembley in the semis. Denmark fell just short of reaching the final, but their success was a feel-good story epitomised by the stirring performances of the fresh-faced Damsgaard.
Serie A dominates EURO 2020
Top of the flops
It may be a little harsh to judge Morata as a flop. The Juventus striker scored three crucial goals at EURO 2020, including an equaliser against Italy in the semi-finals, which eventually sent the tie to a penalty shootout. However, the Spaniard was guilty of missing an array of chances throughout the tournament. La Roja carved out lots of opportunities, and they would’ve stood a far better chance of winning the Euros if they’d had a more ruthless goalscorer within their ranks. Morata’s woes were compounded when he missed a decisive penalty against the Azzurri, allowing Jorginho to score the winner.
Matthijs de Ligt
It’s fair to say De Ligt hasn’t had the easiest of times since joining Juventus in 2019. At times, the Dutch centre-back has struggled to live up to his billing as one of the world’s finest young talents, and his experience at the Euros won’t fill him with much confidence ahead of the new campaign. The Netherlands looked great through the group stage, scoring eight goals in winning all three of their games. However, the red card De Ligt received for a handball in the 55th minute of their last-16 clash with the Czech Republic proved to be incredibly costly. Whether rash or naive, De Ligt has a lot more learning to do from Bianconeri teammates and new European champions Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci.
Turkey were expected to make some waves this summer. The Crescent Stars had enjoyed some strong results in the run-up to the Euros, while in Calhanoglu, they had an exciting talent who plied his trade at the top of the Serie A table. However, the 27-year-old failed to make an impression on the tournament as the Turks lost all three of their games to crash out in the group stage. The start of the new season won’t get much easier for Calhanoglu either. He has crossed the Milan divide to join Inter this summer, meaning his every move on the pitch will be under the microscope.