Euro 2020 has given football fanatics a lot to cheer about. Primarily, every fan would be thanking the Almighty that the pandemic did not, in any way, spoil the fun associated with the tournament. The soccer extravaganza that started on June 11 has reached the stage of semi-finals without any major hiccups, except for the unfortunate Eriksen incident. Football enthusiasts across the world witnessed some pulsating action, breathtaking moments, tearful adieus and shocking results in the span of 25 days. Now, the semi-finalists: Italy, England, Denmark, Spain: are in front of the whole world. Every team has a point to prove or the other: for England, this is the chance to make it count finally, for Italy it is the time for redemption, for Denmark, this is the moment to seize and for Spain, it is an opportunity to add one more and make it three at Euros. However, for all the four teams there are a few players whose form matters a lot. These mysterious warriors can change the course of the match at any moment. Let us find out who they are and how they matter to their teams?
England would be banking largely upon Sterling to take them to the highest summit. Of course, Harry Kane’s heroics towards the end sealed the game in favour of England against Germany, but it was Sterling who ended the deadlock in the dying moments. If England want to break the jinx at the Euro 2020, then Sterling has to unleash his magic on the field. Without a shred of doubt, it can be said that England would have really struggled to reach the stage of Knockouts had it not been for Sterling. He has stayed true to his second name and has scored 22 goals from his past 21 games for England.
This Napoli star holds key to the fortunes of Italy. Insigne’s miraculous effort against Belgium turned out to be the defining moment of the game for Azzuri. He was very lethal while ploughing in from the left in the initial moments against Belgium and whenever he had the ball under his feet he looked like scoring for Italy. Insigne is also a very good team player as he gels well with others, especially Spinazzola, and this aspect can make it tough for the opposition to breach the defence of Italy. Insigne is also one of the reasons why Italy remained unbeaten in the tournament and it is still a mystery why he was benched four years ago for a game that Italy lost and failed to qualify for the World Cup.
As the saying goes “adversity brings out the best in a man. This was proved right by Morato against Croatia in the Round of 16. He was being criticized from all quarters but he chose his skills to respond to the diatribe. Morato’s crucial strike was instrumental in the victory against Croats. This was a moment Morato will never forget as he finally found the target after several misses. Spain would require a similar performance from him to proceed further in the tournament and he is too good a player to be inconsistent for too long.
It is tough to fill in the big boots, but Damsgaard made it look very easy. After Christian Eriksen collapsed on the ground due to cardiac arrest, Damsgaard was chosen as the backup. After impressing all and sundry in the encounter against Belgium, he stunned everyone with a scintillating goal against Russia. Damsgaard was supposed to warm the benches, but he is now an automatic starter for the team and this speaks in volumes about the humongous talent in his possession. Denmark would need Damsgaard’s excellence to end the drought of almost three decades.