Harry Wilson has ended a 16-year association with Liverpool to join Championship outfit Fulham ahead of the 2021-22 season. 

Wilson – who has signed a deal that could see him stay at Craven Cottage until 2026 – progressed through the ranks of the Reds after joining at the age of nine. 

The 24-year-old made just two appearances for Jurgen Klopp's first team, however, and has spent much of the past four seasons out on loan. 

Spells at Crewe Alexandra and Hull City were followed by a successful stint at Derby County in the 2018-19 season.

He spent a season in the Premier League with Bournemouth in 2019-20, scoring seven goals as the Cherries were relegated, while last term he was on loan with Championship side Cardiff City. 

Wilson has been capped 29 times by Wales and featured for the Dragons in their Euro 2020 campaign, receiving a red card in the closing stages of their 4-0 last-16 defeat to Denmark. 

Fulham also announced the signing of goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga on Saturday after he left Tottenham last month, the 29-year-old Argentine signing a two-year deal.

Alun Wyn Jones is "monumental" for the British and Irish Lions, according to former South Africa wing Bryan Habana.

Jones, the most-capped player of all time with 157 international appearances across his career with Wales and the Lions, has made a remarkable comeback to return to the Lions' squad for their tour of South Africa.

The 35-year-old suffered a dislocated shoulder in a pre-tour match against Japan in Edinburgh and did not travel with Warren Gatland's squad and seemed unlikely to be able to feature in the three-match Test series against the Springboks.

Yet he has made a rapid recovery and will link up with the Lions ahead of Saturday's game with the Stormers.

Jones will be on the bench for that match, putting him firmly in contention for a start in the first Test against the reigning world champions on July 24.

Habana represented South Africa against the Lions in 2009, helping the Springboks to a series victory, and he believes Jones is not only an inspiration to Gatland's team, but to all athletes who aim to draw out their careers.

"It's monumental," Habana told Stats Perform. "All of under-40s, recently retired players, are sort of vicariously living through what he has become in terms of an iconic figure.

"It's astounding, mind-blowing, to think how far he's come over the course of the last 14-15 years since making his debut, that he's still able to produce efforts on a weekly basis that warrant not only his selection in the squad, but warrant his selection as captain of a prestigious side like the Lions.

 

"All of us around the world have an immense amount of respect for him. To go on and break Richie McCaw's Test cap record, but do it in a manner in which people still advocate for him being involved in the side, it tells you the status of the man.

 

"And I, having played the game, not remotely physically as close to what Alun has been doing in the forwards, just have a huge amount of respect for what he's achieved for the game, the manner in which he has played the game, but [also] the respect that he commands both from his own team-mates and from opposition."

The Lions perhaps missed Jones' leadership as they suffered their first defeat in eight matches on Wednesday.

A South Africa A side littered with 2019 World Cup winners won 17-13 in Cape Town, with the Lions losing for the first time in the city since 1980.

It was the lowest points tally the Lions have managed in a game since their 12-3 win over the Crusaders in the third match of their 2017 tour of New Zealand.


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Alun Wyn Jones could yet feature for the British and Irish Lions in South Africa, having made a "remarkable" recovery from a dislocated shoulder.

The 35-year-old, who was set to captain Warren Gatland's touring party in South Africa, suffered the injury against Japan at the end of June but could still fly out on Tuesday, subject to medical confirmation.

The Lions face South Africa A, a side packed with 11 World Cup winners, on Wednesday and Gatland revealed in Monday's news conference that Jones could well return.

"A few weeks ago we didn't think there was an option," the Lions head coach said. "We're waiting for medical reports from him to see what happens with that.

"He's been back fully training with Wales – he's training this week with them. I think he's doing a double session with them tomorrow and we'll see what the outcome of that is."

Conor Murray, who is yet to start a game on tour for the Lions, came in to act as Jones' replacement in the captaincy role.

However, Gatland appreciates the invaluable role the Welshman could play if fit.

"He has made a remarkable recovery in terms of that injury, which wasn't as bad as they first thought," he added.

"It would be a boost to the squad having someone of his experience and calibre to come back into the squad."

Experience is exactly what Jones brings, as he represents the only member of the current touring squad to have faced the Springboks with the Lions previously, while also being the most-capped international of all time.

Having triumphed comfortably in the three pre-test matches against South African club sides the Lions and the Sharks, Gatland's team face South Africa A in what is being billed as an unofficial fourth test.

A subsequent fixture against DHL Stormers will follow before the three showpiece clashes with the Springboks get underway on the 24th July, by which time Gatland will be hoping Jones is fit.

Gareth Bale put talk of international retirement to bed following Wales' Euro 2020 exit, saying he will play for his country until his professional career comes to an end.

Bale had previously said he would make a decision on his international future after the delayed tournament but walked out of a BBC interview when asked if he had played his last game for Wales following their 4-0 last-16 loss to Denmark in Amsterdam on Saturday.

However, speaking to S4C, he made it clear he will not be calling time on his Wales career.

"I want to continue to play. People ask stupid questions all the time, but obviously I love playing for Wales," said Bale.

"I'll play for Wales until the day that I stop playing football.

"We've just started the World Cup campaign, and we need to take this experience into that.

"I feel like we have a very good way of playing when we play well and we need to keep that confidence high, keep playing football and I think we can qualify for the next World Cup."

Wales are third in Group E of UEFA qualifying for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar having taken three points from their opening two games. Belgium are top with seven points with Czech Republic in what would be a play-off spot in second.

They return to action with a qualifier in Belarus on September 5 but before then Bale will likely seek to clarify his club future.

He spent last season on loan at Tottenham, who are still without a permanent replacement for former manager Jose Mourinho, but is due to return to Real Madrid, where his contract expires at the end of the 2021-22 campaign.

Bale fell out of favour with Zinedine Zidane but it remains to be seen whether he will have a chance to revive his Madrid career under Carlo Ancelotti, who returned for a second spell at the club this month having delivered a long-awaited 10th Champions League crown for Los Blancos back in 2014 in his first stint. 

On target in the 4-1 win over Atletico Madrid in the 2014 final, Bale has since won a further three Champions League titles under Zidane with Madrid.

The opening two fixtures of the last-16 stage of Euro 2020 played out on Saturday with Denmark and Italy triumphing in contrasting matches.

There were seven goals scored across the two fixtures with Denmark easing to a 4-0 victory Wales thanks to two goals from Kasper Dolberg to become the first team to reach the quarter-finals.

Italy followed them into the last eight later on the day, although their progress was much more hard fought via a 2-1 extra-time win over a spirited Austria at Wembley courtesy of substitutes Federico Chiesa and Matteo Pessina.

Stats Perform reflects on a day of youthful confidence and omens for later in the tournament.


Wales 0-4 Denmark: A landmark double for Dolberg 

Denmark have won each of their last four competitive meetings with Wales in a run stretching back to June 1999, and they swaggered to victory again in the first meeting between the sides in a major tournament.

The Danes showed their prowess from long range when Dolberg put them ahead with a curling shot from distance - and they have netted more goals from outside the penalty area (three) than any other side at Euro 2020. Indeed, since 1980 only France (five in 1984) and Belgium (four in 2016) have scored more from distance in a single edition of the competition.

Since the start of 2019, only Christian Eriksen (11) has scored more goals in all competitions for Denmark than the eight Dolberg has so far. At the age of 23 years 263 days, Nice striker Dolberg became the youngest player to score for Denmark in the knockout stages of the European Championship.

Dolberg also became the second Denmark player to score two goals in a knockout game at a major tournament (World Cup and Euros) after Henrik Larsen against the Netherlands at Euro 1992 when the Danes went on to win the tournament.

Another youngster making his mark for Denmark was Mikkel Damsgaard, who, at 20 years and 358 days, became the youngest player to assist a goal in Euros knock-out game since Cristiano Ronaldo in 2004 against the Netherlands.

It was a miserable game for Wales who suffered their biggest defeat in a competitive match since a 6-1 thrashing by Serbia in September 2012. Wales had Harry Wilson sent off in Amsterdam and, following the dismissal of Ethan Ampadu against Italy, became the first team to receive two red cards in a single edition of the European Championship since Russia and Switzerland in 2004.

 

Italy 2-1 Austria: Mancini's side finally let one in

Italy have won four consecutive games at the European Championship for the second time, which bodes well for them going far, having previously done so at Euro 2000 when they ended up as losing finalists.

Chiesa and Pessina gave them a 2-1 win over Austria, and it was the was just the second time two different substitutes have scored in a European Championship game for Italy after Alessandro Altobelli and Luigi De Agostini did so in 1988 against Denmark.

Sasa Kalajdzic's goal for Austria was the first Roberto Mancini's side have let in since October 2020, ending a run of 19 hours and 28 minutes without conceding for the Italians.

Although Austria have now lost all five of their meetings with Italy in major international tournaments (World Cup and Euros), netting just two goals in these matches.

This was Italy’s eighth game at the European Championship to go to extra time, more than any other side in the history of the competition. Their two goals were their first goals in the additional 30 minutes.

Despite playing 157 minutes at Euro 2020 so far, Marco Verratti has created more chances than any other player for Italy (nine).

Kasper Dolberg described his two-goal haul against Wales as "completely crazy" after helping to fire Denmark into the quarter-finals of Euro 2020 with a 4-0 win.

The Nice forward scored either side of half-time to put the Danes in control of Saturday's last-16 tie at the Johan Cruijff ArenA, where he previously spent three years with Ajax.

In doing so, Dolberg became only the second Denmark player after Henrik Larsen against the Netherlands in 1992 to score two goals in a knockout game at a major tournament.

Further goals from Joakim Maehle and Martin Braithwaite followed, either side of Harry Wilson's red card, as Kasper Hjulmand's side ran riot in Amsterdam.

Dolberg, who is Denmark's youngest scorer in the knockout stages of the Euros, received the man of the match award and struggled to sum up his emotions after the match.

"It's completely crazy. I actually don't know how I feel. This is total madness. It's surreal," he told Danish television station DR.

"It was here it all started for me with Ajax, and to play here again in this setting was insane."

 

Since the start of 2019, only Christian Eriksen (11) has scored more goals for Denmark than the eight Dolberg has managed.

He had more shots (four) and shots on target (three) than anyone on the field, despite having just five touches in the Wales box before being taken off after 70 minutes, and scored his two goals from an expected-goals (xG) return of 1.1.

"It had to end this way with him scoring on his old home ground. I had a good feeling about him, and he was fantastic," Denmark boss Hjulmand told DR.

After thrashing Russia 4-1 to book their place in the last 16, Denmark are the first side ever to score four or more goals in successive European Championship matches.

It is also the first time they have won back-to-back matches at a single major tournament since the 1986 World Cup, and a meeting with either the Netherlands or the Czech Republic awaits in next week's quarter-finals.

"It's hard to believe that this is reality. I admire the boys and the fact that we can keep fighting," Hjulmand added. "No matter who plays, they play very well. The guys are true warriors.

"We showed today we are able to be flexible. Not everything was perfect during the game but we improved and that's something we've done several times."

Gareth Bale refused to answer questions over his future after Wales crashed out of Euro 2020 with a 4-0 thrashing at the hands of Denmark.

Kasper Dolberg scored twice before late goals from Joakim Maehle and Martin Braithwaite sent Denmark into the quarter-finals with an emphatic win in Amsterdam.

It brought up the first time Wales have lost successive matches at a major tournament – after their defeat to Italy in the group stage – with Robert Page's team also having Harry Wilson sent off late on.

Indeed, Wales were on the receiving end of a result which saw Denmark become the first team to score four or more goals in consecutive matches in European Championship history.

After a bright start in which he went close with a long-range strike, one of three attempts he managed in total, Bale was a peripheral figure following a clever tactical tweak from Denmark coach Kasper Hjulmand, whose team will face either the Netherlands or the Czech Republic in Baku next Saturday.

The 31-year-old – who is due to return to Real Madrid after spending 2020-21 on loan at Tottenham – said before the tournament that he had made a decision on his future, though he would not reveal it until Wales' campaign was over.

 

However, asked to expand on that in a pitch-side interview on BBC Sport following Wales' defeat, Bale walked immediately out of shot.

Prior to the refusal to discuss his next move, both domestically and internationally, Wales' record goalscorer said: "Of course, not how we wanted the game to go.

"We started very well the first 25 minutes. Conceded a goal and the game changed a little bit. We came out in the second half trying to play but unfortunately made a mistake to concede the goal which I guess killed the momentum on our side.

"To finish the game how we did was disappointing. The boys are frustrated and angry but I’d rather us go out like that kicking and screaming than laying off and doing nothing.

"Of course we missed an opportunity but one thing we can't fault is the effort, that's the minimum requirement of this group."

Wales were furious when Denmark's second goal was allowed to stand despite what seemed to be a foul on Kieffer Moore in the build-up.

"If you play the ball through the back of someone it's a foul," Bale added.

"I thought like the referee was being influenced by a lot of supporters here but I guess it is what it is, there's no point making excuses now. It's disappointing, that's all I can say."

Denmark know a thing or two about winning against all odds. While their 4-0 victory over Wales on Saturday may not fall into that exact category, it's fair to say their Euro 2020 campaign is very much built on such a platform.

After all, the Danes' greatest moment on the international stage, winning Euro 92, only occurred because of Yugoslavia's disqualification that came about to the breakup of the country.

This year they've had to cope with the stress of Christian Eriksen's health emergency in their group opener against Finland, the Inter midfielder suffering a cardiac arrest.

While Eriksen is on the mend, there's no doubt Denmark's inner resolve and desperation to honour the efforts of their team-mate have played a role in their performances – even if their second group game after the incident saw them suffer a slender defeat to Belgium.

The 4-1 win over Russia that followed saw Denmark become the first team in Euros history to lose their first two games but still qualify for the knockout phase. Qualification against all odds?

While Wales wanted to embrace a similar kind of 'nothing is impossible' attitude, just as they did when reaching the semi-finals of Euro 2016, they were always going to be up against it versus Denmark – who essentially had a home crowd behind them in Amsterdam.

"We're playing at Christian's old home and we're so excited to give it our all against Wales," coach Kasper Hjulmand said in the build-up. "There is a huge connection between Amsterdam – and especially Ajax – and Danish football."

Wales defender Connor Roberts had suggested "99 per cent of the world" would be cheering on Denmark, a situation that Danny Ward said helped in creating a "siege mentality" in the Welsh ranks.

And there was certainly evidence of that fired-up attitude throughout, such as Wales' promising start that had them 7-1 up on the shot count (even if several were blocked) after the 18th minute, the fact Chris Mepham and Joe Rodon looked to be picking scraps wherever possible, and then there was the late red card for Harry Wilson.

Yet Wales seemed unable to tap into that adrenaline for long and Denmark began to look every inch a home side, with the fans – whether they were Danish or Dutch – seemingly responding to Hjulmand's request for the Johan Cruijff ArenA to be more red-and-white than orange.

It was only fitting, then, that Kasper Dolberg was the man to take the match by the scruff of the neck.

 

The former Ajax prodigy was considered one of the world's biggest young talents after coming through the academy in Amsterdam. While his career probably hasn't hit the heights some would have expected during his breakout in the Netherlands, there's no doubt he will have made plenty sit up and take note on Saturday.

He opened the scoring in the 27th minute, receiving a pass inside from the left courtesy of Mikkel Damsgaard, taking a touch to his right to open up a little space before rifling a gorgeous effort into the bottom-right corner from 20 yards.

The Nice forward almost certainly wouldn't have started were it not for an injury to Yussuf Poulsen, but here he was, back where he made his name, doing it all over again.

His subsequent celebration, as he stood where he shot with his arms stretched outwards at his sides, reminiscent of Russell Crowe in Gladiator. "Are you not entertained?"

Well, as it happened, he would get another just after the break.

Neco Williams' clearance from Martin Braithwaite's low cross summed up much of Wales' play – panicked and utterly lacking in conviction.

Dolberg was on hand to slam an unstoppable effort into that bottom-right corner again, and from there it never looked like being anything other than a comfortable Denmark win.

In truth, Wales' setup in the group stage provided little inspiration that they would've been able to chase any kind of deficit. They only forced six high turnovers, the joint-fewest of any team, while their expected goals against of 4.8 was only lower than four other teams, all of whom finished bottom of their groups.

To maintain that level and succeed against a Denmark side who were among the most-effective sides in terms of pressing (37 high turnovers, second only to the Netherlands) and also capable of mixing up their play (more 'direct attacks' than anyone else but also only bettered by Spain and Italy in terms of 'build-ups) was going to be a tall order.

While Wales made some desperate forays forward towards the end, late goals from Joakim Maehle and Braithwaite were just rewards for Denmark's excellent game management. 

But as good as Atalanta star Maehle was (again), the day belonged to Dolberg.

Back in Amsterdam, where both he and Eriksen set out on their journeys, Dolberg's brace sent Denmark on their way to a first quarter-final at a major tournament since 2004.

 

Kasper Dolberg starred on his former stomping ground in Amsterdam as Denmark stormed to a 4-0 victory over Wales to progress to the Euro 2020 quarter-finals.

In for the injured Yussuf Poulsen, ex-Ajax striker Dolberg became the first Denmark player to score twice in a Euro knockout game since Henrik Larsen in 1992 with two clinical finishes.

With the backing of a partisan crowd at the stadium where the absent Christian Eriksen made his name, Denmark hit the front midway through the first half before Dolberg – on his first start of the tournament – doubled his tally shortly after the break.

Mathias Jensen, Martin Braithwaite and Joachim Andersen all hit the woodwork, though those near-misses mattered little when Joakim Maehle made sure of an emphatic Danish victory.

Wales' misery was then compounded with Harry Wilson's harsh sending off and Braithwaite's strike in the fourth minute of added time.

 

Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey took the glory, but Wales would not be through to face Denmark in the Euro 2020 last-16 stage on Saturday without the saves of Danny Ward.

On Saturday, Ward will line up for Robert Page's side, with the man who is keeping him out of the Leicester City team, Kasper Schmeichel, in the Denmark goal.

The 28-year-old Wales shot-stopper made 13 saves across his team's three group games, which is a total that was only bettered by Finland's Lukas Hradecky (15) and Turkey's Ugurcan Cakir (18).

He made on average 6.5 saves per goal conceded, the best record of all goalkeepers who were beaten at least once (Gianluigi Donnarumma and Jordan Pickford both kept three clean sheets), with Wales shipping just twice in three games.

That tight defensive record came despite Wales having an expected goals against (xGA) total of 5.47, and it meant Wales had the largest differential (3.47) between their goals-against tally and their xGA. Opta tallies expected goals figures on a formula that looks at variables including the type of assist, angle of the shot and its distance.

Bale and Ramsey unpicked Turkey to impressive effect in the second group game, but Ward's overall importance cannot be overestimated.

Now Ward and Schmeichel will be on show in Amsterdam in the opening knockout game, with Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers sure to be taking an interest.

Ward said this week: "Kasper's a good goalie and Denmark are a good team. It's going to be tough, you have to respect people, but we've got to believe in what we want to do. We fancy ourselves against anyone."

Bale, stuck in a 14-game goal drought for his country, may fancy facing Schmeichel, having scored twice against him when Tottenham beat Leicester 4-2 on the final day of the Premier League season.

Denmark have come through a testing first fortnight in the tournament, enduring the horror of seeing Christian Eriksen suffer a cardiac arrest in their opening game against Finland.

Eriksen's steady recovery – to the point where he has been able to leave hospital – has been uplifting, and coach Kasper Hjulmand is now able to focus firmly on matters on the pitch, with an emotional 4-1 win over Russia seeing the Danes through to this stage.

Hjulmand says too much emphasis has been placed on who starts games for the Danes, insisting their squad depth is a major plus point.

"We have been so strong in the second half in many matches," Hjulmand told UEFA.com. "We have been so strong in the last 20 minutes of every match. And it's just as important who is on the field when the match ends as who starts."

 

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Wales - Aaron Ramsey

Driving runs from midfield behind opposition lines are such a strength of Ramsey's game, and Denmark will be wary of the Juventus man. Indeed, he has had 16 of Wales' 97 shot attempts across their Euro 2016 and Euro 2020 campaigns to date, beaten only by Bale's 33.

Denmark - Mikkel Damsgaard

The Sampdoria youngster shot into the spotlight with his supreme strike against Russia. Damsgaard has been directly involved in six goals in his five appearances for Denmark in all competitions, scoring three and assisting three. The goal against Russia made him Denmark's youngest goalscorer in a World Cup or European Championship, at the age of 20 years and 353 days.

KEY OPTA FACTS

– None of the 10 previous meetings between Wales and Denmark in all competitions have finished level, with Wales winning four to Denmark’s six. This is the first meeting between the sides since November 2018, with Denmark winning 2-1 in a Nations League match on that occasion.
– Denmark have won each of their last three competitive meetings with Wales in a run stretching back to June 1999. This is the first meeting between the sides in a major tournament.
– Denmark became the first team in European Championship history to reach the knockout stages of the competition having lost their first two group games.
– Wales have only lost two of their last 16 competitive matches in all competitions, although those two defeats have arrived in their last five games, including last time out against Italy. They have not suffered consecutive competitive defeats since June 2019.
– Denmark recorded 59 shots in the group stages, with the average of 19.7 shots per game their highest on record in a major tournament (Euros and World Cup).
– Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg has three assists in his three games so far at Euro 2020, with no Denmark player recording more at a single edition of a World Cup or European Championship before.

Gareth Bale is "one of the great players in Europe" according to Florentino Perez, but the Real Madrid president did not offer any assurances on the Wales international's future.

Bale fell out of favour with Zinedine Zidane at Madrid and spent last season on loan in the Premier League with former club Tottenham.

Zidane's second departure as head coach paved the way for a return to the Santiago Bernabeu for Carlo Ancelotti, who was in charge during Bale's maiden season in the Spanish capital in 2013-14 that culminated in Madrid's 10th Champions League crown.

In an interview with El Transistor on Onda Cero, Perez referenced Bale scoring a key goal during extra time of that final triumph over Atletico Madrid, along with his similarly decisive contributions in the 2014 Copa del Rey final against Barcelona and 2018 Champions League final win over Liverpool.

Although he was not always first choice for ex-Spurs boss Jose Mourinho last season, Bale scored 16 times in 19 starts and 34 appearances overall.

Of Premier League players to score 15 goals or more in all competitions during 2020-21, none did so at a better rate than Bale's one every 104.4 minutes. Leicester City's Kelechi Iheanacho was the next most efficient in that regard, with 19 goals at one every 118.8 minutes.

Overall, Bale has 105 goals in 251 appearances for Madrid.

"He's a great player. The way I see him, he is one of the great players in Europe," Perez said of Bale, who has impressed on Wales' run to the last 16 of Euro 2020 and has a contract at Madrid running until June 2022.

"Each one is as he is and has his personality. The last thing I remember from him is in Kiev [against Liverpool]. He throws a scissors [overhead kick] and scores a goal. And then he scores another.

"And the header in Lisbon [against Atletico Madrid]. That race against Barcelona in Valencia in the Copa del Rey.

"Would I would like him to stay? I love all [the Madrid players]."

 

The most notable outgoing at Madrid this close season, arguably more so than Zidane, is long-serving captain Sergio Ramos.

The veteran defender bade a tearful farewell to the club last week and has claimed he did not want to leave Madrid, only to be told a contract offer that was on the table for him had expired.

"I have adoration for Sergio and I am not going to talk about it. He has been a Real Madrid legend," Perez said.

"We offered him a contract, we told him that he had a deadline and he did not admit it. He thought otherwise."

Perez added that there would be a role for Ramos at Madrid when the 35-year-old's playing days conclude, if he so desires.

"I love Sergio as a son. I bought him in 2005. Of course, I'm sorry," Perez said.

"He will return, this is his house. It has happened to me with other players. I love him as if he were my son and I wish him the best.

"I am not going to talk here about who is right and who is not. There are no nuances."

With the group stage of Euro 2020 now over, we can get down to the important business: arguing over who have been the best players until now.

The first three matchdays produced some enthralling spectacles, a handful of shocks and one or two rather forgettable encounters of which there is no need to speak any more.

We have seen some rather obvious star turns, such as a certain Portugal striker equalling the record for international goals in men's football, while other standout performers have flown a little more under the radar.

Here, using Opta data for added insight, Stats Perform presents the Euro 2020 team of the group stage. Please do read on for a few explanations before starting on those angry comments...

 

 

GK: DANNY WARD

Wales battled their way into the knockout rounds after finishing second in Group A, ahead of Switzerland on goal difference. Much of that is down to Danny Ward's form.

The Leicester City man saved 86.7 of the shots on target he faced, the best record among keepers to make at least five saves.

 

LCB: DALEY BLIND

The Netherlands surprised a few people with three convincing wins in Group C, with Daley Blind's calm yet authoritative presence at the heart of their performances.

Blind completed 221 passes in the group stage, more than any other Oranje player, with more than half of those (115) coming in opposition territory.

 

CB: ANDREAS CHRISTENSEN

Quite rightly celebrated for that thunderbolt of a goal in Denmark's key victory over Russia, Andreas Christensen's all-round displays make him worthy of inclusion here.

The Chelsea defender won 79.2 of his duels in the first three rounds, a tally bettered only by Oleksandr Karavaev (80 per cent) and Thomas Vermaelen (90 per cent) among those to contest at least 10.

 

RCB: LEONARDO BONUCCI

Italy's 1.3 expected goals against was the lowest figure of any side in the group phase, underlining the imperious nature of their form not just at these finals but in the whole of their 11-game winning run in which they have not let in a single goal.

Leonardo Bonucci has been the rock at the back, particularly with Giorgio Chiellini battling injury. He has won possession 11 times, the most of any Azzurri defender, and has yet to be beaten by a dribble.

 

LWB: JORDI ALBA

Jordi Alba was Spain's standout performer until the rest of the team somewhat caught up on matchday three as they turned on the style to thrash Slovakia 5-0.

The Barcelona left-back completed 247 passes, the most of any defender after Aymeric Laporte (259), while leading the way for possession won (30 times).

 

CM: GEORGINIO WIJNALDUM

With three goals in three games, Georginio Wijnaldum surpassed the great Marco van Basten on the all-time Netherlands scoring charts to reach 25 for his country.

Enjoying a more advanced role at these finals, Paris Saint-Germain fans are being given a glimpse of what the midfielder could provide for them next season.

 

CM: PIERRE-EMILE HOJBJERG

Alongside Kevin De Bruyne, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg is one of only two midfielders to create nine goalscoring chances during the group stage.

The Tottenham man set up two Denmark's goals in the 4-1 hammering of Russia to move to three assists at these finals, a tally matched only by Switzerland's Steven Zuber.

 

CM: MANUEL LOCATELLI

His two goals against Switzerland were the highlight of his group-stage displays and made Manuel Locatelli just the third Italy player to score twice in a single European Championship match.

The Sassuolo star was rested against Wales, but the quality of his performances in the first two games prompted rumours that Juventus have redoubled their efforts to sign him.

 

RWB: DENZEL DUMFRIES

Full-back Denzel Dumfries became an unlikely goalscoring hero for Frank de Boer, becoming just the second Netherlands player to score in his first two European Championship games (the first was Ruud van Nistelrooy).

Denmark wing-back Joakim Maehle was the only nominal defender with more touches in the opposition box (20) during the group stage than Dumfries (17).

 

CF: ROMELU LUKAKU

Continuing his spectacular Inter form at these finals, Romelu Lukaku scored three times in Belgium's group games from a total of just four shots on target.

He would probably be the favourite for the Golden Boot were it not for the form of the only man to outscore him in Serie A last season...

 

CF: CRISTIANO RONALDO

With five goals in three games, Cristiano Ronaldo became the leading goalscorer at the World Cup and European Championship combined (21).

The Portugal captain needs just one more to surpass Ali Daei as the top-scoring international men's footballer of all time.

Italy head coach Roberto Mancini was delighted his side maintained a high level of performance, despite making eight changes to the starting XI in the 1-0 win over Wales at Euro 2020.

The Azzurri qualified for the last 16 with a perfect record of three wins from three matches in Group A, scoring seven goals without conceding against Turkey, Switzerland and Wales.

Atalanta midfielder Matteo Pessina, who was a late addition to Italy's European Championship squad after a groin injury to Stefano Sensi, netted the winner against Wales on Sunday, showcasing the squad's depth.

Mancini made eight changes to the starting line-up for their final group game, after back-to-back 3-0 victories, insisting he needed to inject "fresh strength" ahead of the knockout phase.

"I really like to see that we made eight changes to the team and played very well," Mancini said during a post-game news conference.

"We deserve to score more goals. And it wasn't particularly easy because they defended very well but that's what I was pleased with. The players performed really well to a man."

Italy equalled their best unbeaten run of 30 consecutive games without defeat between 1935 and 1939 under Vittorio Pozzo, while Mancini's men have won 25 and drawn five of their last 30 fixtures since last losing to Portugal in September 2018.

He added: "I would have changed even if the game had been decisive, I needed fresh strength in the game. We had to gain some minutes.

"We are 26 [players], we need them to play and have time to play. It will be a little more difficult to make the choices, yes.

"A lot of players are used to playing big matches, it will be a shame to leave some aside, but we can count on a lot of players, that's the most important thing."

Manuel Locatelli, who scored a double in the 3-0 win over Switzerland, was one of the players to make way against Wales, with Paris Saint-Germain star Marco Verratti getting his first start of the tournament on the left side of midfield.

"I think it's better to have them both available for selection, unfortunately, one of those two good players won't start," Mancini said.

"But that's been the case ever since day one and unfortunately the same goes for the players that didn't make the squad. And that does hurt us all, and the same will go for when we have to make team selection decisions now."

Italy have kept a clean sheet in each of their last 11 matches in all competitions, only going on a longer run once before in their history – 12 games without conceding between 1972 and 1974.

Juventus forward Federico Chiesa, who was named man of the match, said Italy's best was still to come ahead of their last-16 clash with the runners-up in Group C at Wembley Stadium on Saturday.

"We are very excited," Chiesa said. "We're here in the here and now and we're delighted to be here.

"And of course, we will be a test for whoever we come up against in the last-16 and the best is yet to come."

Italy wrapped up a wonderful Group A campaign on Sunday as they overcame Wales 1-0 in Rome. 

The win ensured Italy finished top of their Euro 2020 group, while Wales claimed second place ahead of Switzerland, who eased past Turkey 3-1 in the day's other game.

Vladimir Petkovic's Swiss side will have to wait until the group stage finishes on Wednesday to know if they progress to the last 16 as one of the best third-placed finishers, but a fine display in Baku has put them in a strong position.

Using Opta data, Stats Perform takes a look at some of the best facts from the two games.

Italy 1-0 Wales: Azzurri match historic record

Italy's superb start to Euro 2020 continued as a third win in as many games sealed top spot in Group A.

Roberto Mancini's side are now unbeaten in 30 matches in all competitions (W25 D5) since losing against Portugal in September 2018, equalling the longest unbeaten run in their history, which was set between 1935 and 1939.

The decisive goal against Wales came in the 39th minute, Matteo Pessina becoming the youngest Italian player to score on his first start at a major tournament since Antonio Cassano at Euro 2004.

Welsh hopes of clawing their way back into the game were hit in the second half when Ethan Ampadu saw red.

Aged 20 years and 279 days, Ampadu became the second-youngest player to be sent off in a European Championship match after John Heitinga (20 years 217 days) for the Netherlands against Czech Republic in 2004, while Ampadu is the outright youngest to be shown a straight red.

Wales' failure to find the back of the net means Italy have kept a clean sheet in each of their last 11 matches in all competitions, only going on a longer run once before in their history – 12 games without conceding between 1972 and 1974.

Wales, however, had cause for celebration as they have now reached the knockout stages in all three of their appearances at major tournaments.

Switzerland 3-1 Turkey: Shaqiri gives Swiss hope of last-16 spot

Switzerland left it late in the group stage but belatedly turned on the style to give their chances of progressing to the knockout stages a significant boost.

It was a wonderful game, full of attacking threat from both sides, and 42 shots were attempted – a record for a group-stage game at the European Championship.

Two of those shots saw Switzerland go in at the break with a healthy lead. Haris Seferovic and Xherdan Shaqiri both scored from outside the penalty area, becoming the first Swiss players to do so at any European Championship, with each of their nine goals in the competition before Sunday coming from inside the area.

Irfan Can Kahveci pulled one back for Turkey, but Shaqiri scored again to become Switzerland's outright top scorer at major tournaments (seven – four at the World Cup and three at the European Championship).

Steven Zuber was the provider for all three of Switzerland's goals, meaning he became only the third player since 1980 to register three assists in a single European Championship game, after Portugal's Rui Costa in 2000 (v England) and Denmark's Michael Laudrup in 1984 (v Yugoslavia).

Turkey, meanwhile, became just the second nation to lose all three group-stage matches at more than one edition of the competition, having also suffered this fate at their debut tournament in 1996. Denmark were the first to suffer that fate, in 1988 and 2000.

Italy's squad are well aware of the different task they will face in the Euro 2020 knockout stages, so says Roberto Mancini.

The Azzurri maintained their perfect start to the tournament with a 1-0 win over Wales in Rome on Sunday – Matteo Pessina's first-half goal proving the difference, while the visitors also had Ethan Ampadu sent off.

Italy are now unbeaten in 30 matches in all competitions (W25 D5) since losing against Portugal in September 2018, equalling the longest unbeaten run in their history, which was set between 1935 and 1939.

Mancini's team have won their past 11 games and kept a clean sheet in each match, only going on a longer run once before in their history – 12 games without conceding between 1972 and 1974.

With top spot in Group A sealed, Italy will face either Ukraine or Austria at Wembley in the last 16 on Saturday, and look well placed for a deep run in the competition.

However, Mancini knows complacency cannot set in.

With his suit jacket held casually over his shoulder, Mancini told ITV Sport: "We are happy but we know that after the group stage we start a new European Championship. Now it will be different.

"The guys are very clever. They wanted to win every game, they have a good mentality. I am very happy also for this reason because we changed eight players and played a very good game.

"It is always difficult, I think we played against a good team. Wales are a good team, but it was a deserved win."

Italy had 23 attempts, with six hitting the target – Danny Ward pulling off some fine stops late on to help ensure Wales claimed second place in the group on goal difference.

Gareth Bale missed a golden chance to equalise, but it did not prove costly, and Aaron Ramsey was thrilled to have secured a last-16 berth.

"It was tough, for long periods of that game. We were up against a great team, to go 30 games unbeaten is some achievement, so fair play," the Juventus midfielder told ITV Sport.

"Again, we showed great character This team, you can never question our character. We always give absolutely everything out there.

"We dug in for Ethan, we feel sorry for him, but we had each other's backs out there and finished the job.

"We have a lot of attacking threat, keep games really tight and work hard for each other, so we have a good balance.

"In the first half, we showed glimpses of what we can do against good opposition, kept the ball well, created a couple of opportunities. We just need to be consistent throughout the game in doing that because we have the quality to do it.

"It's just about having the belief to go out there and do that, but we're through in second place, so we're delighted."

Bale added: "We knew it was going to be a very difficult game from the start, a lot of defending, a lot of running, very tight. But I'm proud of the boys, we wanted to try and get a result but it made no difference, we've finished second anyway.

"We have to just recover again now, we've got a bit of a break. Five days to patch everyone up and get going again."

Wales will face whichever team finishes second in Group B in Amsterdam on Saturday.

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