Northern Ireland goalkeeper
McGovern’s performance against Germany in the final group game, when he produced a series of superb blocks, initially seemed set to be a footnote to the story of the group stages. But in keeping the score down– Germany had 11 shots on target – McGovern enabled Northern Ireland to qualify for the last 16 on goal difference. And his search for a club this summer will be a lot easier.
Few in the England squad have enhanced their reputation thus far, but the Tottenham right-back is one of the exceptions. Edged ahead of Nathaniel Clyne in Roy Hodgson’s thoughts in the buildup to the tournament and rewarded the manager with two barnstorming performances. Defensive doubts are likely to be put to the test shortly though.
The midfielder always tends to be noticeable thanks to his marvellous mohican but in France his performances have also caught the eye, not least his display against Russia in which he provided an assist and a goal-of-the-tournament contender. Showed his versatility against England with a dogged and disciplined effort despite playing just behind the striker in Slovakia’s 4-2-3-1.
The 27-year-old, who once joined the French club Sochaux to help save his father’s chicken farm, scored the winning goal against Spain that has helped give Croatia genuine hope of going deep into the tournament. While Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic have merely confirmed what Real Madrid and Barcelona already knew about their abilities, Perisic has finally fulfilled his talent.
Arguably the standout defensive midfielder of the tournament so far. Krychowiak was already on the transfer radars of plenty of European giants after back-to-back Europa League successes with Sevilla but his performances so far, particularly against Germany,may have persuaded Paris Saint-Germain to activate his €45m release clause.
He made just eight Premier League starts for Liverpool last season but in three games in France Allen has proven his ability – his pass to create Wales’ second goal against Russia had a Xavi-esque quality. Aaron Ramsey and Gareth Bale have taken the deserved headlines but Allen’s efforts have not gone unnoticed.
A row with his club Videoton meant Kleinheisler missed the first half of last season and after joining Werder in January he made only one Bundesliga start. But in France he has been key – along with Balazs Dzsudzsak – in a refreshingly enterprising Hungarian midfield. Such is his import to the side that, with Hungary already through, he was rested for the final group game.
Iceland have had no shortage of heroes in the tournament thus far but Bjarnason’s tireless performances in midfield have provided the foundations for their success. The 28-year-old scored the team’s equaliser against Portugal and it was his 95th minute clearance that sparked the counterattack from which Iceland scored their dramatic winner against Austria (he also sprinted the length of the pitch to join that attack, speaking volumes about his energy). A rock that England must find a way around.
Already flying high after a superb season with West Ham, Payet has gone to the next level with his performances for the host nation. Scored an 89th minute winner – a screamer – in the opening game of the tournament, followed that up with another late goal against Albania and was the width of the bar away from repeating the trick against Switzerland.
Often somewhat overshadowed in Spain’s 2008-2012 dominance by the country’s other outstanding midfield talents – Xavi, Iniesta, Busquets, Alonso – but in this tournament the Manchester City man has been to the fore. While others look to give Spain control, Silva provides the forward thrust. Reached 100 caps during the group stage.
The reputation of these managers has shot up too …
The German is something of a gambler – he sacked his backroom staff just before the Euro 2016 play-off against Norway last November and gave the then 21-year-old Kleinheisler his debut in the first leg. They came through that successfully and he has turned the Hungary side into an entertaining and effective outfit, even when he gives players a rest as he did in the 3-3 draw with Portugal.
Italy may have lost their 100% record in the defeat to Ireland but that they were able to make so many changes for that game – eight in all – was down to their excellence in the first two matches. The pivotal opening win over Belgium was a triumph of organisation for the Chelsea-bound manager. “I’ve played under a lot of good managers but he is one of the best there is,” said Daniele De Rossi. “He’s a special kind of coach.”
It’s fair to say that Coleman’s career as a club manager – with Fulham, Real Sociedad, Coventry City and Larissa – was pretty mixed . But his stewardship of Wales, building on the work of Gary Speed, has been nothing short of exceptional. Yes, he has Gareth Bale at his disposal but Wales are a side greater than the sum of its parts and produced one of the best team displays of the group stage with their 3-0 demolition of Russia.