The European Championship is finally here. Some of the biggest ballers in the game will compete for one of the most prestigious prizes in the game, in the biggest tournament of its kind ever. Six groups, 11 host cities, 24 teams and 624 players will be united by one goal only: winning at all costs.
Any event on the global scale is the perfect platform to showcase your talent but this year's Euros mean so much more. The tournament being pushed back 12 months gave youngsters far and wide even more time to prove they are ready for this moment. The month-long tournament is due to involve some names that may have not had a sniff of playing if the event went ahead as planned last year.
Take Jude Bellingham. This time last year the young baller had just finished up a breakthrough season in the Championship with Birmingham City. One year on, he's performed bright under the lights on Champions League nights and looks a key part of England's squad.
And that's just the tip of the iceberg. We asked our community for their tips on the players who are about to blow this summer and compiled them alongside the top tips from our team. Here's 10 ballers you need to watch at Euro 2020. Get your notepad out.
1. Elif Elmas
Nation: North Macedonia
North Macedonia are a team that not many will know about but trust us when we say they have a baller on their hands. Elmas has been developing his craft in Serie A and will be looking to bring his talents to the biggest stage. In two seasons, he has completed over 50 games for Napoli but it’s his international record which is most impressive. Seven goals in 27 international appearances with four of those goals coming in his team’s journey to these Championships. If we’re going to see an underdog story in this side, Elmas will play the lead character.
2. Donyell Malen
In any other circumstance, Malen would probably find himself as a certified starter. This past season has seen him score 19 goals in the Eredivisie and, as a player that can also create, he is a prize asset. Holland’s preferred formation currently is 5-3-2 which means this baller could potentially be one of the biggest impact players at this tournament. Once on the books of Arsenal, this baller will be looking to gun Holland back to greatness.
3. Jeremy Doku
The Red Devils once again find themselves as one of the pre-tournament favourites. A team filled with experienced players dominating in their respective club sides throughout Europe will be supported by one of the continent’s most exciting young talents. Doku has shown his international pedigree scoring twice in eight games but it’s his speed and versatility in forward roles that make him a player to watch. If Lukaku is going to eat, it may not only be KDB feeding him.
4. Jude Bellingham
Bellingham’s rise is fitting of a real Euros moment. This season was meant to be an introduction to top flight football for the young hitter from Stourbridge but instead, he became a first team player, bossed games in Bundesliga, ran midfields in the Champions League, and picked up a Breakthrough Player of the Year award on his way. His best traits are maturity and fearlessness on the field, which could be so pivotal to an England team that often looks short of ideas from central areas. With injuries a real concern too, we could see the youngster rising to the task yet again.
With Barcelona and Spain not necessarily being where the world expects them to be, it’s very easy to possibly miss out on the new wave of greatness that’s been brewing. In other words, don’t sleep on Pedri. If both institutions are looking to return to former glory, this baller is pivotal to them. Dubbed the new Messi, Pedri has gone from making his debut to becoming a key man in less than a year. Despite only having a handful of international games under his belt, his ability to unlock defences, dribble and evade space, could see him as Spain’s most dangerous players at this championship.
6. Alexander Isak
Zlatan’s failure to make it to the Euros may be disappointing for some but sentiment aside, it means we will see one of Europe’s most talented young bagsmen given a platform in front of the world instead. 17 goals in this season’s La Liga campaign creates the perfect springboard for Isak to show he can score on an even bigger stage. Internationally, this may be his best chance to really show he can be the future of Sweden. Much like the self proclaimed God Zlatan, Isak can double up as a target man or a tekky forward with the ability to show individual brilliance and create moments out of nothing.
7. Jamal Musiala
Musiala really asserted himself as a Bayern Munich player this season, becoming a regular in the first team whilst adding their title win with seven goals in all competitions. His job now is to have a similar impact with the German national team, who he pledged allegiance to earlier this year amongst stiff competition from England. Again, he’s another player with limited international fixtures under his belt, but his ability to play without pressure, sublime talent, and versatility in the final third of the pitch make him a real danger at international level. Germany have not shied away from trusting youth before and this youngster could prove he is a grown man at these Championships if given the chance.
8. Billy Gilmour
A Champions League winner, Billy may not be able to conquer Europe with Scotland this year, but he will however be hoping to cause some upsets. Despite not playing many minutes this season, his natural ability can’t be questioned and he’ll savour the opportunity to get some serious minutes under his belt on a global stage. His ability to control the tempo of games and pick key passes will always be vital. Many may think it’s a risk playing an inexperienced player at these tournaments but Scotland are a team built on bravery. In a system which should provide protection to areas needed, don’t be shocked to see this little magician working his tricks in the middle of the park.
9. Nuno Mendes
Position: Left Back
A player who has come on leaps and bounds this season could be a secret weapon for Portugal. The defending champions have quite a team with Raphael Guerreiro also playing LB, but Mendes has played as a wing-back all season with Sporting. His ability to offer quality in both defence and attack is tempting, especially in a ‘group of death’ where both attributes will be needed in abundance. The teenager’s ability to progress up the field may be invaluable off the bench if games become a cagey affair. This jugador is on the radar of many clubs so don’t be surprised if he decides to turn up the heat during Euro 2020.
10. Orkun Kökçü
The former Dutch youth international is now a key man for Turkey in a team that could be a genuine surprise package. Alongside a Lille trifecta of Burak Yilmaz, Zeki Çelik and Yusuf Yazici, Kökçü will be hoping to dominate midfield with his intoxicating mix of intensity and delicacy. It’s great to have players that are going to take the game by the scruff of the neck but there is also a need for players who dictate the game and make others dance to their beat. With sharp turns and neat touches being his forte, keep peeled to see whether this baller can be the master composer.