23. Leon Goretzka (Germany)
An all-action powerhouse in the heart of Germany’s midfield. Goretzka is capable of winning the ball back and uses it well. His sudden transformation into a muscled-up beefcake helped Bayern to win the Champions League in 2020, although injury problems mean he might not be at his best in the first few games of the Euros.
22. Gareth Bale (Wales)
Bale is the undisputed star of this Wales team, as he has been for years, and his recent form at Tottenham Hotspur suggests he is more than ready to lay waste to opposition defences this summer. Bale, who loves nothing more than playing for his country, scored six goals in his final seven appearances of the season at Tottenham.
21. Marco Verratti (Italy)
A midfield schemer who seems to always be one step ahead of the rest of the players on the pitch. His eye for a pass, and his ability to execute those passes, make him the central figure of an Italy team that could go all the way. Verratti should be at the peak of his powers, although a recent injury could prevent him from being in top shape.
20. Frenkie de Jong (Holland)
The golden boy of Dutch football. De Jong is an artist on the pitch, showing bravery on the ball to create space and then passing with intelligence. If the 24 year-old can take control of games, slowing the tempo down and then speeding it up at will, then Holland could be a fearsome opponent. Watch out for his “scanning” ability — De Jong is always checking over his shoulder to see what’s coming, so he almost never gets caught on the ball.
19. Ilkay Gundogan (Germany)
Gundogan was one of the best players in Europe this season, scoring an impressive 17 goals in 46 games for Manchester City and arguably doing more than any other player to drive them to the Premier League title. He will look to knit together the German attack and play the killer passes to their speedy forwards.
18. Joshua Kimmich (Germany)
Kimmich is ultra-competitive and ultra-dependable, whether he is playing at right-back or in central midfield. The 26-year-old is without question one of the world’s best defensive midfield players, and he is the man who sets the standards within the Germany team. An authoritative leader with a combative spirit, as well as the obvious technical skill.
17. Mason Mount (England)
It is hard to believe that Mount’s inclusion in the England team caused so many grumbles at the start of last season. No one is questioning the Chelsea midfielder now, as his game has reached new heights since the arrival of Thomas Tuchel at Stamford Bridge. A Champions League-winning attacking midfielder with a superb defensive attitude.