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De Bruyne among second-day stars – Euro 2024 Team of Matchday 2

The 2024 European Championship is well underway now, and it continues to excite.

The second round of games gave us 27 goals, setting us up nicely for the end of the group stage.

And as always, several players caught the eye with some exceptional performances. Here are our standout performers from Matchday 2.

GK – Giorgi Mamardashvili (Georgia) – The clash between Georgia and Czechia was a fascinating one. Both sides were desperate for a win, and both knew that defeat would leave them facing an uphill battle to qualify for the last-16.

Willy Sagnol’s side were on the back foot for large parts of the game but claimed a point – largely down to an excellent display from goalkeeper Giorgi Mamardashvili. The Valencia man made 11 saves, most notably to deny Patrik Schick just before half time.

RB – Zan Karnicnik (Slovenia) – In truth, there wasn’t a wide range of options at right-back. We’ve opted for Slovenia’s Zan Karnicnik following a goal in his side’s draw against Serbia.

Karnicnik was picked out by teammate Timi Elsnik at the back post in the 69th minute. The 29-year-old had the simplest of tasks to tap home and make it 1-0.

CB – Pepe (Portugal) – Earlier in the tournament, Pepe became the oldest player to ever feature at a European Championship, aged 41. He extended that record on Saturday and prodcued a fine performance.

The former Real Madrid defender was rock-solid at the back, letting nothing past him all afternoon. His experience showed, with several vital tackles and interceptions to keep the Turkey frontline at bay.

CB – Robin Le Normand (Spain) – Spain are one of only two teams yet to concede a goal, along with France. Robin Le Normand has played a major part in La Furia Roja’s stability, playing the full 90 minutes in both matches.

His expert handling of forward Gianluca Scamacca allowed his country to play on the front foot against Italy. They have now secured top spot in the group having taken six points from their two outings.

LB – Maximilian Mittelstadt (Germany) – Germany have also booked their place in the knockout stage with time to spare. Their game against Hungary was slightly less comfortable than their opener versus Scotland, but they came away with a 2-0 victory.

It was a good afternoon for Stuttgart full-back Maximilian Mittelstadt. He registered a clean sheet – Germany’s first at a major tournament since 2016 – and grabbed an assist for Ilkay Gundogan in the second half.

CM – Morten Hjulmand (Denmark) – Despite appearing weaker on paper, Denmark managed to put in a commanding performance in their clash with England.

Morten Hjulmand played a key part in their midfield domination alongside Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Christian Eriksen in the middle of the park.

Healso scored a pretty sensational goal. Picking up the ball from 30 yards out, Hjulmand unleashed a powerful low drive which pinged in off the post to level the scores.

CM – Marcel Sabitzer (Austria) – They may have landed in a tough group, but Austria have proved to be tricky opponents. Ralf Rangnick’s men began with a narrow defeat to powerhouses France, before picking up their first three points with a 3-1 win over Poland.

In the latter fixture, Marcel Sabitzer dominated the game from start to finish. It was his driving run that led to the penalty for Austria’s third, converted by Marko Arnautovic.

CM – Kevin De Bruyne (Belgium) – With the likes of Eden Hazard and Vincent Kompany retired, and Thibaut Courtois exiled from the squad, Kevin De Bruyne is arguably the last remaining star of Belgium’s ‘golden generation’. And on Saturday, their talisman was at his best.

Having been denied one brilliant assist by a wonderful Florin Nita and another by the tightest of offsides, the Manchester City playmaker eventually got on the scoresheet himself.

Koen Casteels’ long kick went all the way to De Bruyne, and he nicked in ahead of the opposing goalkeeper to make it 2-0.

RW – Xherdan Shaqiri (Switzerland) – Switzerland went into their second game against Scotland off the back of a 3-1 triumph over Hungary. By contrast, their opponents lost their opener 5-1 against Germany. So it was a shock when the Tartan Army went 1-0 up early on.

But, as he has often done, Xherdan Shaqiri responded with an absolute screamer, taking advantage of Anthony Ralston’s weak back-pass and firing into the top corner from distance.

The strike was his tenth at a major tournament – more than Robert Lewandowski, Wayne Rooney, Ruud van Nistelrooy, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Fernando Torres.

ST – Roman Yaremchuk (Ukraine) – Having lost their opener heavily against Romania, Ukraine desperately needed a result when they faced Slovakia.

Things weren’t going well for the Blue and Yellow, as they were 1-0 down at half-time. A second-half strike by Mykola Shaparenko drew them level, but a winner was still needed.

On came Roman Yaremchuk, replacing La Liga top scorer Artem Dovbyk. 13 minutes after his arrival, the forward netted a crucial goal, excellently controlling Shaparenko’s pass before slotting past the goalkeeper.

LW – Nico Williams (Spain) – The final spot in our best XI goes to Spanish winger Nico Williams. The youngster has been a bright spark in a strong Spain side, earning plenty of praise for his performances.

Despite not registering any direct goal contributions, Williams was the star of his country’s win against Italy.

He showcased his lightning pace and mazy dribbling several times and was unlucky not to grab a goal with a tremendous strike off the crossbar.

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