Deadly dozen: Players set to make a splash at Euro 24

With the biggest European football tournament around the corner, discover the must-watch players who are set to light up the tournament.
Euro 2024 is set to begin on June 14 in Germany
Euro 2024 is set to begin on June 14 in Germany(File Photo | AP/Markus Schreiber)

Picture the electrifying atmosphere as Cristiano Ronaldo defies age with his relentless drive. Imagine Kevin De Bruyne weaving through defences with his midfield magic. Visualise Toni Kroos, back from retirement, commanding the field with his unparalleled vision and accuracy. Lamine Yamal down the right flank, reminding one of a young Lionel Messi, making defenders fall to their knees. Antoine Griezmann's flair and creativity leave defenders in a daze promising a feast of footballing excellence.

Whether you're rooting for the established stars or hoping for a breakout hero, there are going to be many such moments to savour as Euro 2024 kicks off on Friday.

Our list of players to watch will guide you through the must-see talents. So, settle in, and prepare for a rollercoaster of goals, saves and goosebumps. Let's dive into the who's who of Euro 2024 -- where legends are made, and surprises are just a kick away!

Florian Wirtz (Germany)

Age: 21|Position: Midfield|Club: Bayer Leverkusen
Florian Wirtz
Florian Wirtz(File Photo | AP)

After a stellar season with Bayer Leverkusen, Florian Wirtz is ready for the big stage. Scoring 18 goals and assisting in 19, he was crucial to Leverkusen's domestic double, despite their Europa League final loss to Atalanta. Wirtz’s vision, speed, and technical ability make him one of the world's top playmakers, someone vital for Germany’s success.

After landing in a tricky group with Scotland, Hungary and Switzerland, Die Mannschaft will have to make the best use of Wirtz if they wish to lift the trophy on home soil.

Jamal Musiala (Germany)

Age: 21|Position: Midfield|Club: Bayern Munich
Jamal Musiala
Jamal Musiala(File Photo | AP/Matthias Schrader)

German 'wonderkid' Jamal Musiala is set to shine on the international stage. Despite Bayern Munich's not-so-great season, Musiala's talent is undeniable. His late goal from the edge of the box to the bottom corner clinched the league title for Bayern in 2022-23 on the last day of the season. Though often overshadowed, Musiala's rise continues to impress.

Having Musiala and Wirtz as twin ‘No 10s’ behind Kai Havertz who could play as a pivot could make Julian Nagelsmann’s Germany one of the teams to watch out for.

Xavi Simons (Netherlands)

Age: 21|Position: Forward|Club: PSG
Xavi Simons
Xavi Simons(File Photo | AP/Patrick Post)

Coming out of one of the best football academies in the world, La Masia, Dutch midfielder Xavi Simons has become one of Europe’s best. Scoring 37 goals and providing 27 assists over two seasons with PSV Eindhoven and RB Leipzig, the midfielder can be the central figure who helps the Netherlands unleash "Total Football".

With key players like Frenkie de Jong and Teun Koopmeiners injured, Simons may shoulder the creative load for his team. Given proper game time and freedom, he could shine in the tournament.

Nico Williams (Spain)

Age: 21|Position: Forward|Club: Athletic Bilbao
Nico Williams
Nico Williams(File Photo | AP/Francisco Ubilla)

Williams, who was key to Athletic Bilbao's Copa del Rey win, would bring much-needed pace to Spain.

With five goals and 11 assists in La Liga, he was vital to Bilbao’s campaign. Spanish manager Luis de la Fuente would expect him to stretch the play and push forward.

While there is still potential for him to improve his game, Williams would be looking forward to playing a vital role for his team.

Jude Bellingham (England)

Age: 20|Position: Midfield|Club: Real Madrid
 Jude Bellingham
Jude Bellingham(Photo | AP)

Bellingham started strong at Real Madrid, scoring 19 goals in his first La Liga season, but his form dipped in the second half. Despite struggling in big games, he's a key player.

England coach Gareth Southgate emphasises the need for balance saying, "We are not putting everything on Jude", but Bellingham would be aiming to impress in the Euros and play a vital role for England.

Rasmus Hojlund (Denmark)

Age: 21|Position: Forward|Club: Manchester United
Rasmus Hojlund
Rasmus Hojlund(File Photo | AP/Ian Walton)

Despite a challenging season at Manchester United where he struggled to find his form after a £71 million transfer from Atalanta, Hojlund hopes to be more consistent during the Euros.

Following a bad start, he ended the season as United’s top scorer with 16 goals. With seven goals in 14 appearances for Denmark, he's a player to watch out for at Euro 2024.

Lamine Yamal (Spain)

Age: 16|Position: Forward|Club: Barcelona
Lamine Yamal
Lamine Yamal(File Photo | AP/Francisco Ubilla)

Carrying a broken Barcelona on his back at the age of 16, Yamal became a key player for Barcelona and Spain, capturing fans' attention with his talent. Scoring on his Euro 2024 qualifier debut, he became Spain's youngest male scorer at 16 years and 57 days.

His exceptional play has earned him a starting spot in Barcelona's lineup and a crucial role in the Spanish team, making him a standout player to watch in the tournament.

Phil Foden (England)

Age: 24|Position: Midfield|Club: Manchester City
Phil Foden
Phil Foden Photo | AP

Phil Foden's impressive season with 19 goals and 8 assists for Manchester City earned him the Premier League Player of the Season. His crucial role in City's fourth consecutive league title challenges previous doubts about his skills.

England had almost won the previous edition of the Euros before losing to Italy on penalties. However, this time Phil Foden could be the key if the Three Lions are to go all the way.

Kylian Mbappe (France)

Age: 25|Position: Forward|Club: Real Madrid
Kylian Mbappe
Kylian Mbappe(Photo | AFP)

Kylian Mbappe. The name is enough. The 18-year-old who tip-toed his way into everyone's hearts during France’s 2018 title-winning World Cup campaign has gone on to etch his name in the history books as a great.

After scoring 44 goals for PSG, he will captain France at Euro 2024.

Following a narrow World Cup final loss to Argentina, in which he single-handedly took his country to the brink of winning back-to-back World Cups, Mbappe would be looking to end France’s 24-year European Championship drought. Mr Quicksilver's pace and precision are sure to be a threat to any team that faces France.

Josko Gvardiol (Croatia)

Age: 22|Position: Defence|Club: Manchester City
Josko Gvardiol
Josko Gvardiol (File Photo | AP/Pedro Rocha)

Central defender turned goal-scoring left-back, Josko Gvardiol, could be a key figure for his team.

In his first season at Manchester City, he excelled defensively and offensively.

Gvardiol’s ability to defend and attack would allow him to play in a defensive midfield position for Croatia, letting his captain Luka Modric control the game.

Bradley Barcola (France)

Age: 21|Position: Forward|Club: PSG
Bradley Barcola
Bradley Barcola(File Photo | AP)

Bradley Barcola quickly became a vital cog in France's attack after an impressive season at PSG. Barcola's speed and footwork make him a threat on the wings. His ability to cut the defence line and finish at the near post is sure to be a valuable asset for France.

Though not expected to start for France, he is likely to come on in the last 15 minutes to challenge tiring defences.

Harry Kane (England)

Age: 30|Position: Forward|Club: Bayern Munich
Harry Kane
Harry Kane (File Photo | AP)

Despite Bayern not winning the league, Harry Kane was their best player, winning the Bundesliga Golden Boot with 36 goals in his debut season—the highest in Europe’s top five leagues. After a missed penalty ended his World Cup campaign, Kane seeks redemption and aims for his first career trophy at the Euros.

Class is permanent

In addition to the players listed above are the many top performers who have dazzled for years.

Cristiano Ronaldo continues to stun with his stellar performances. Then there are Kevin De Bruyne and Toni Kroos as mentioned above. Luka Modric aims to lead Croatia’s dreams, while Antoine Griezmann dazzles with flair and creativity.

Rodri's dominance in midfield with an impressive 92% ball retention under pressure and Hakan Calhanoglu's playmaking skills will also be crucial to their respective teams' success.

These football titans, along with the new and rising stars, are absolutely certain to make Euro 2024 a spectacular display of skill, passion and unforgettable moments.

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