As the group stage of 2021’s European Championships comes to a close, every Manchester City player involved in the tournament has advanced to the round of 16, and City players particularly shined on matchday three.
Belgium: Kevin De Bruyne
De Bruyne was stunning on his return from injury in Belgium’s second group match against Denmark, coming off the bench to assist Thorgan Hazard before ripping a goal of his own from long range. In the Red Devils’ final group match against Finland, he assisted Romelu Lukaku late on as Belgium comfortably topped the group with nine points from three matches.
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Netherlands: Nathan Aké
Despite not starting at any point for Frank De Boer’s team, Aké did feature in the group stages and picked up a crucial assist in Holland’s matchday 1 win over Ukraine. The Netherlands looked comfortable in topping their group, and look set to face the Czech Republic in the round of 16 in what appears to be a very winnable draw.
Ukraine: Oleksandr Zinchenko
Zinchenko’s side, managed by legend Andriy Shevchenko, made it through to the round of 16 courtesy of Spain’s 5-0 pumping of Slovakia on the final day coupled with Poland’s inability to beat Sweden, meaning their superior goal difference put them above two of the six third-place finishers. Despite just picking up three points, Ukraine did have some bright moments in the group stage, and Zinchenko was involved in his natural central midfield role. A late Swedish goal to send them top of the group means Zinchenko’s team will avoid an in-form Spain side of the Round of 16, and will instead face the Swedes.
England: Raheem Sterling, John Stones, Kyle Walker, Phil Foden
Following a shocking performance in a 0-0 draw with Scotland at Wembley, England topped Group D with a 1-0 win over the Czech Republic as Raheem Sterling scored again, and he remains the Three Lions’ only goalscorer at this year’s tournament. Sterling and John Stones started all three matches for England, while Kyle Walker and Phil Foden each started twice. Gareth Southgate’s team have been less than convincing, and they will face a stern test with Germany, who finished third and advanced from the group of death with four points.
Spain: Aymeric Laporte, Rodri, Ferran Torres
After a frustrating start to the group stages with two draws from their first two matches, Spain were in real danger of going out heading into the final matchday. However, in a crucial game against Slovakia, the team burst into life, with Laporte scoring his first-ever goal for his newly declared nation, while Torres scored just 44 seconds after being subbed on in a stunning 5-0 win that put the tournament on notice. Rodri did not start for the first time, as the team’s captain Sergio Busquets made his return to the lineup. Although they were denied top spot in Group E right at the death by Sweden, they look to have turned the corner and appear to be a real threat heading into a difficult round of 16 tie against Croatia.
Germany: Ilkay Gündogan
Gündogan started in all three of Germany’s group stage matches, which included a difficult loss to defending world champions France before a stunning 4-2 victory over Portugal. The Germans were on the very brink of elimination before a late Leon Goretzka winner against Hungary saved their place in the knockout stages, where they will face England, whom they eliminated in the 1970, 1990, and 2010 World Cups as well as the 1996 Euros on penalties.
Portugal: Rúben Dias, Bernardo Silva
Portugal’s start to the Euros in the tournament’s toughest group was difficult, but they crucially grabbed all three points late on against Hungary in their opening match. Dias’ defense was shattered by the Germans and the forward-thinking Robin Gosens, but they still managed to progress after drawing 2-2 in a wildly entertaining match against France. They will now face De Bruyne and the high-flying attack of Belgium in a tantalizing round of 16 match.