Kylian Mbappé scored the most goals in France last season, and Harry Kane did the same in the Premier League.
They are not only connected by the fact that neither Paris Saint-Germain nor Tottenham have won their league. Nor the fact that both strikers are talked about transfers to new clubs after the European Championship.
Although fruitful for their clubs – Mbape with 27 goals in the league and Kane with 23 – neither of them managed to reproduce their results from the national goals of the European Championship.
Kane succeeded with only one shot on goal in the three games for England. Mbape had three for France. But none of the attackers found the back of the net.
“I think this is the world of a big player,” said England coach Gareth Southgate, discussing Kane. “Inevitably he went through these periods and scored important goals for us and played extremely well. So this is a bit of a repetitive cycle. “
Perhaps this is a reflection of the victims of more exhausting seasons, clogged by a pandemic on the bodies of players.
France is at least taking advantage of the seizure of Karim Benzema after six years in international exile. The Real Madrid striker scored for France for the first time in 2085 days – in fact twice, which ensured a 2: 2 draw against Portugal on Wednesday and a place in the round of 16.
“I knew that as soon as I joined the national team, the critics would come out – it’s part of the football game, but I never give up,” said Benzema. “Everyone was waiting for this goal and it was some additional motivation for me. Of course, there is other pressure than when you play for your club, because this is your whole country, but for me it is a great pleasure. “
At least Mbappé won a penalty for Benzema, which is a bigger contribution than Kane, as England also advanced as group winners.
However, Euro 2020 will be missed by Europe’s leading striker in the knockout phase. Robert Lewandowski’s three goals were not enough to take Poland to the next round.
The best individual goal scorer is, surprisingly, Cristiano Ronaldo, with five for Portugal.
But these are their own goals, which caused a lot of noise. After just nine own goals from 1960 to 2016 at the European Championships, this year there were eight in less than two weeks.
WING OF THE BORDER
While some leading strikers are struggling to make an impact, this tournament is a stage for shining on the back of the wings.
Denzel Dumfries was the unexpected star for the Netherlands, taking advantage of a 3-5-2 formation that gave him space to jump to the right when in attack mode. Goals against Ukraine and Austria – PSV’s first player in Eindhoven for the national team – helped them enter the last 16.
While Dumfries was known to the Dutch, playing for the team in second place in the domestic league, Robin Gossens never played in either the Bundesliga or the youth teams of Germany.
But after thriving in Italy with Atalanta – which became a regular in the Champions League – Gossens more than justified Joachim Lev’s decision to call him on international debt. His performance in the group stage came when he forced an own goal, scored a goal and then scored in a 4-2 victory over Portugal.
What benefits every modern country is the flexibility of the players.
There is Joshua Kimic, who can excel as a right back or in midfield with Germany and Bayern Munich. And for so long as Bayern’s full-back, David Alaba has been thriving lately as a central defender. With Austria, he is more of a central defender.
“You have a lot of the ball in that position,” Alaba said. “You can set the pace and influence the accumulation of the game more.”
Euro 2020 will see it more as Austria advanced to the round of 16 for the first time, the next game with Italy. He then moved on to a new chapter in his career at Real Madrid.
Euro 2020 is a unique tournament, giving home advantage to more countries than ever.
Of the 11 cities used across Europe, nine teams had the chance to play at their home stadiums. Only Italy and the Netherlands, which both failed to qualify for the last World Cup, won all three matches in the group.
Germany had a win, a draw and a loss in Munich. Denmark lost back matches, but overcame the setbacks and emotions from the collapse of Christian Eriksen to end in victory.
Hungary are claiming one point from their two matches in Budapest. Russia and Scotland lost both home games. Scotland’s only point and best performance comes from the game of old rival England.
Wembley Stadium is the one with the most matches in the tournament with eight, including the semi-finals and the final. England managed to win two victories and this Scottish stalemate at their national stadium.
Spain had to wait until their third match to win after a pair of draws in Sevilla, where the hosts even grumbled about the conditions on their own ground. It was a late change of host cities after Bilbao failed to guarantee the entry of fans during the pandemic.
But no football stadiums were chosen at Ramon Sanchez-Pizuan’s stadium in Seville or at Real Betis’ Benito Villamarin stadium. Instead, a stadium originally designed to host the 1999 World Track Championships is used.