Big Roundup: Manchester City at EURO 2020 & Copa America
Copa America and EURO 2020 officially came to end on Sunday as Argentina and Italy were crowned the new kings of South America and Europe, respectively, following a 1-0 win over Brazil and a dramatic penalty shootout win over England, for the two sides. Despite having no players representing the eventual winners, City stars made the headlines throughout the tournament.
Raheem Sterling - ENGLAND
Heading into the tournament after a rough ending to his club season, Gareth Southgate kept faith in Raheem Sterling when he started the opening group game against Croatia. Sterling instantly repaid the trust placed in him though, hitting home England’s opener and the only goal of the game. After a stalemate to Scotland a few days later, England fans continued to question the winger‘s selection. A goal against the Czech Republic, a back-post header after a cross by Jack Grealish, was enough to quiet the critics - for now.
Even when he started against Germany there were question marks over the Englishman starting, with Bukayo Saka and Jack Grealish favoured amongst fans at the time. Writing the headlines, the boy from Brent hit home England’s opener and played a key role in the second as the Three Lions made history. Now a key figure for Southgate, Sterling assisted Kane’s opener and played a role in two other goals as England routed Ukraine 4-0 in the quarter-final. After making consecutive semi-finals in a major competition, Raheem won the penalty that Kane converted on the second attempt to book England’s spot in the final - England’s first since 1966. It wasn’t to be but Raheem‘s reputation has been restored after a truly immense four weeks.
Raheem Sterling at EURO 2020:
Minutes played: 643
John Stones & Kyle Walker - ENGLAND
Two of the defensive players of the tournament, the City defensive pairing kept four clean sheets together, whilst Stones kept five in total as he started every game, including the final. The centre-back was key in England's defensive system as he formed a formidable partnership with Harry Maguire during the incredible five-match clean sheet run, something only ever achieved in the 1966 World Cup run before.
John Stones at EURO 2020:
Clean sheets: 5
Minutes played: 679
Kyle Walker was dropped for the second game against Scotland although an underwhelming performance by Reece James meant that the City full-back was brought back in for the rest of the tournament. Gareth Southgate's decision was vindicated with consistently impressive performances and Walker's play earned immense respect from Jose Mourinho, who tipped Kyle as his player of the tournament. Over the six games he played, he was only dribbled past once. Defensively, there's no better in the world. It wasn't the tournament to be for Phil Foden, who only made three appearances. They'll be plenty more to come from him though.
Kyle Walker at EURO 2020:
Clean sheets: 4
Minutes played: 600
Rodrigo, Ferran Torres, & Aymeric Laporte - SPAIN
Despite a rough opening two group games La Roja soon hit their stride with consecutive 5-goal demolitions of Slovakia and Croatia. Ferran Torres had a hand in both of those victories, with a goal off the bench less than a minute into his cameo against Slovakia, and later, a goal and an assist in an extra-time 5-3 win over Croatia. The winger had an impressive tournament and there's reason to be excited heading into 2021/22 if you're a Manchester City fan.
Ferran Torres at EURO 2020:
Minutes played: 367
Aymeric Laporte's international career took off this summer, with the centre-back playing every minute of the tournament. Perhaps his stand-out moment was a terrific header to make it 2-0 in the rout of Slovakia but the defender had an impressive tournament as a whole, only conceding six goals, three coming in a freak Croatia comeback in the round of sixteen, and keeping two clean sheets. Keep in mind he also played on the right of a back two at times due to Pau Torres, Laporte's performances remained at a high level. Rodri's tournament never got started with Busquets the preferred choice.
Aymeric Laporte at EURO 2020:
Clean sheets: 2
Rúben Dias and Bernardo Silva - PORTUGAL
Portugal’s tournament had its highs and lows but a round of sixteen exit was a huge disappointment for Dias and Silva. João Cancelo testing positive for COVID-19 meant that he missed the tournament and the Portuguese never looked like tournament contenders after that, shipping four to Germany in a 4-2 rout and conceding two to France to only draw the final group game. An early exit to Belgium in the round of sixteen compounded misery on their tournament. Rúben and Bernardo will be first to say that their own performances weren’t at the highest level but the collective was also not good enough as Santos struggled to find a way to utilise the plethora of talent at his disposal.
Bernardo Silva at EURO 2020:
Minutes played: 244
Ruben Dias at EURO 2020:
minutes played: 360
Kevin De Bruyne - BELGIUM
Kevin De Bruyne's orbital fracture meant that he missed his team's opening win over Russia but his cameo in a win over Denmark showed exactly why he's the greatest midfielder on the planet. A goal and assist in the comeback win was a statement for the rest of the competition but after a horror tackle in Belgium's round of sixteen, De Bruyne looked certain to miss the rest of the tournament with an ankle injury. Remarkably, he played the quarter-final against Italy, but he even admitted he had ankle ligament damage throughout the game and never looked himself. Again though, Belgium are now asking themselves what could've been, and if not for the injury to De Bruyne, they truly could've gone all the way.
Oleksandr Zinchenko at EURO 2020:
Best dribble success rate: 90.7%
Minutes played: 273
Oleksandr Zinchenko - UKRAINE
Playing for one of the nations not expected to do too well in the tournament, Oleksandr Zinchenko still gave his country an iconic moment when they stepped out to face Sweden in their round of sixteen match. A goal and a 120th-minute assist secured a 2-1 win that sent Ukraine to a quarter-final, where they lost to England.
Oleksandr Zinchenko at EURO2020:
Nathan Ake & Ilkay Gundogan - NETHERLANDS / GERMANY
Nathan Ake only played 52 minutes as the Dutch crashed out in the round of sixteen but provided the winning assist in the opening game against Ukraine (3-2). Ilkay Gundogan (GER) made three appearances and played 221 minutes as his Germany also crashed out in the first knockout round to England.
With Sergio Agüero leaving the club in June to join FC Barcelona and Fernandinho not part of the national set-up for Brazil anymore, Ederson and Gabriel Jesus were City’s only representation at the 2021 Copa America.
Neither player was able to pin down a consistent starting berth in the group stage as Tite rotated his side throughout a fairly routine first stage of the tournament, rotation which also included leaving out Neymar at times.
Ederson, Alisson, and Weverton were rotated too throughout the groups. Ederson started all three knockout games; the quarter-final vs Chile, where he made four crucial saves inside the area, the semi-final vs Peru where he kept another clean sheet and the final, which our Brazilian lads were unable to bring home as Angel Di Maria’s goal was enough to seal a 1-0 win for Argentina. Congratulations to former City players Sergio Agüero and Nicolas Otamendi though, who have their first-ever international trophy following the victory.
As for Gabriel Jesus, he was selected to play the quarter-final tie and looked to have made that right-wing spot his own, a position where he had great success in Brazil’s 2019 Copa America triumph. Unfortunately, it didn’t go to plan though as a reckless kung-fu kick high to the face of a Peruvian player left him with a two-match ban, which ruled him out of the semi-final and final. Would they have won it if he was on the field? Very possibly, so Brazil will be left wondering ‘what if?’. Back-to-back Copa America titles would’ve been something special.
Ederson at the Copa America:
Clean sheets: 3
Minutes played: 360
Gabriel Jesus at Copa America:
Minutes played: 282
Written by: @j2mcfc
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