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Euro 2024 best XI of the group stage: Georgia outshine Spain, Germany, France

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After 36 games and 81 goals, the group stage of Euro 2024 is over and we have said goodbye to eight of the 24 teams that began the tournament.

This Euros has brought us some amazing upsets and storylines, with some of the pre-tournament favourites underwhelming while other less-fancied nations have been a breath of fresh air.

So the best XI of the tournament so far is a real mix of the old and new, of big-name stars and breakout players. A few players (Riccardo Calafiori of Italy, Fabián Ruiz of Spain, Granit Xhaka of Switzerland and Vitinha of Portugal) were unfortunate not to make the cut, but overall the selections for this side in a 4-2-3-1 formation were easy to make.


The Valencia goalkeeper has been by far the best in his position over the course of the group stage. He has kept his team in the three games with some amazing saves, especially against Czechia where he made 11 stops, the most in a single match in Euros history. Even more impressive when you consider that he is only 23 and this is his first major tournament.

The Fenerbahçe right-back scored one of the goals of the tournament so far, a half-volley into the top corner against Georgia. The 25-year-old has been good defensively and is always willing to go forward. He was dropped to the bench against Portugal by coach Vincenzo Montella but his team played much better when he returned against Czechia.

Considering the Arsenal defender has been the best centre-back in the Premier League this season, it might not look like a surprise to see him in this team. However, it was not a given that he would even start for France in this tournament. But he convinced coach Didier Deschamps to give him a chance and he taken it, giving three near-faultless performances so far.

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Are France yet to show their best form at Euro 2024?

Gab Marcotti and Mark Ogden discuss France’s midfield issues and what they need to do to go to the “next level.”

In his team’s back three, Akanji plays as the sweeper and is the commander of the defence. The versatile Manchester City player has been outstanding, especially in the 1-1 draw with Germany, as a leader of this organised Swiss side. His reading of the game, intelligence and calmness on the ball have really made him stand out.

Now, this is a pick that no one would have predicted at the start of the Euros. Few would even have thought that Cucurella would start ahead of Alejandro Grimaldo. Not only has the Chelsea left-back become the starter for Spain, he has also been the best left-back in the tournament. His relationship with Nico Williams and Fabian on the left is great and defensively, he put Croatia‘s Lovro Majer and Italy’s Federico Chiesa in his pocket.

The boss is back, and what a difference he makes to Germany and to this competition. For the last few days of his long career, the maestro is treating us to passing masterclasses and displaying his super-high football IQ. Even if Switzerland frustrated him in the third game, there is not another player like him in this tournament.

The Kanté story is one of the best of these Euros. At 33, after two years away from international football and out of the limelight due to injuries and then his move to Saudi Arabia, the former Chelsea midfielder came back and bossed the first two games against Austria and Netherlands. Seeing Kanté back at his best on the big stage has made this tournament better.

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Hislop: Both Slovakia and Romania deserved to go through

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Another unexpected pick, and surely an unknown name to many before the tournament, the Slovakia wide player has been the attacking leader of one of the surprises of the tournament so far. The 30-year-old scored two big goals for his country among some all-action performances on the right-hand side. It is the continuation of his good season with Sparta Prague, where he scored eight goals and registered four assists in the league

We expected him to be one of the stars of the tournament and he hasn’t disappointed. An absolute joy to watch, gliding with the ball, uncatchable at times. Despite being just 21 and playing a wider role than he does with Bayern Munich, his two goals and nine successful dribbles are both among the most so far. The Swiss managed to stop him in the third game, but who else can do it?

AM: Nico Williams (Spain)

Quite rightly, all the talk before the tournament was about Lamine Yamal, and the Barcelona prodigy has done well so far in Germany. But Nico, his teammate and closest friend in the team, has arguably put up the best individual performance of the tournament so far with his display against Italy, who he tormented almost on his own. The Athletic Club star will have plenty of big clubs keen to make a move this summer.

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1:27

Why Georgia qualifying for the knockout stage is a ‘wonderful story’

Shaka Hislop recaps Georgia’s stunning 2-0 win over Portugal that sees them qualify for the round of 16 at Euro 2024.

If you hadn’t followed these Euros and were asked to name the top scorer after the group stage, you would undoubtedly say one of Kylian Mbappé, Cristiano Ronaldo, Harry Kane, Romelu Lukaku or Álvaro Morata and you would be right to do so. But you would also be very wrong. With three goals (as many as the aforementioned players combined) and one assist so far, Mikautadze of Georgia and Metz is winning the race for the Golden Boot. If you were following Ligue 2 for the past few months, you would have seen him in great form with 11 goals in his final 12 games of the club season, but to keep doing it at the Euros is something else.

Coach: Willy Sagnol (Georgia)

Who else? He has masterminded one of the best stories in Euros history. He has taken minnows Georgia to a tournament for the first time and then to the knockout phase as well. Yes, he has his team playing deep and relying a lot on superstar Khvicha Kvaratskhelia and stars in the making in Mamardashvili and Mikautadze, but he has also created an amazing team cohesion with fighting spirit and great organisation. Most importantly, he has made his players believe that anything is possible in football.

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