UEFA Euro 2024: Hojlund to Bernardo Silva and Mbappe, players to watch out for in all 24 teams

Every team has at least one bona fide star in its ranks

euro cup 2024 best players Kevin De Bruyne, Rasmus Hojlund, Luca Modric and Jan Oblak are among the players to watch out for at Euro 2024 | Agencies

Qualifying for the UEFA Euro and qualifying from Europe for the FIFA World Cup are tough tasks. Sometimes even giants, like Italy and the Netherlands, fail to do so. There is an argument, in Europe, that this leads to “good teams from Europe” missing out on World Cups while teams from other continents qualify. However, for the Euros, the tough qualifiers are an advantage. It ensures that only the best teams, or the teams playing the best football at the time, get through, setting the stage for a highly competitive event, far more so than the World Cup.

ALSO READ | UEFA Euro Cup 2024: Full squad list of all countries -- position, club of players and more

The case is no different in 2024. Indeed, looking at the squads, it seems that the 17th edition of the Euros could be one of the most competitive football tournaments ever. All 24 teams have at least one bona fide star in their ranks. Here is a look at every team's best player:

Albania: Berat Djimsiti

Berat Djimsiti atlanta reuetrs Berat Djimsiti | Reuters

Albania's most famous players are probably Chelsea striker Armando Broja and Lazio defender Elseid Hysaj. But, neither was in the best form this season. That is not the case with centre-back Berat Djimsiti. The 31-year-old had a stellar season at Atalanta, which finished fourth in Serie A and won the Europa League. He was rock solid at the back when the team beat Liverpool 0-3 at Anfield in the Europa League quarterfinals and in the final, when it ended Bayer Leverkusen's incredible unbeaten run. Djimsiti is a strong, honest defender, who is also comfortable on the ball. 

At the Euros, Djimsiti will have to play better than he has ever played to give Albania (FIFA rank 66) any hope of making it out of a tough group, which has Spain, Croatia and Italy. 

Austria: Marcel Sabitzer

Austria Marcel Sabitzer ap Marcel Sabitzer | AP

Talisman David Alaba and defensive midfielder Xaver Schlager are both out injured. This means that Marcel Sabitzer, 30, will have to take on more responsibility. But, the central midfielder, who can also play as a No 10, CDM,  as a false 9 or even on the flanks, has proven himself more than capable of doing just that. After a tough spell at Bayern Munich and an underwhelming loan move to Manchester United, he was back at his best after joining Borussia Dortmund last season. Sabitzer was key to the German club's run to the Champions League final and will be the most influential player for an exciting Austria team (FIFA rank 25), which is in a tough group with France, the Netherlands and Poland. 

Belgium: Kevin De Bruyne

Belgium's "golden generation" came and went, graying without a sight of silver, but the “Ginger Pele” (who has clarified that he is blonde) has stayed. 

belgium Kevin De Bruyne afp Kevin De Bruyne | AFP

Kevin De Bruyne, 32, still pulls the strings for the best team in world football—Manchester City. But, of late, injuries have started to become a concern. Also concerning was De Bruyne's end to the season. After returning from a long-term injury to play a key role in City's title win, he was ineffective in the FA Cup final. World number three Belgium is unbeaten since its loss to Morocco in the group stage of the 2022 World Cup. At the Euros, the team is in an easy-looking group alongside Slovakia, Romania and Ukraine. But, it could start looking a lot tougher if the Belgian talisman is not at his best. 

Croatia: Luca Modric

Croatia's greatest-ever player, Luca Modric, 38, is rated among the finest players to have graced the field since the turn of the millennium. Though no longer a guaranteed starter for Real Madrid, Modric continues to be a vital member of the squad, playing over 40 times for the Spanish and European club champions last season. 

croatia captain Luka Modric | Reuters Luka Modric | Reuters

The only reason there needs to be any discussion about why the Croatian captain is still his country's best player is because of the value a couple of his younger teammates—Manchester City duo Mateo Kovacic and Josko Gvardiol—bring to the national team. But, for now, at least, Modric remains the main man for Croatia (rank 10).

Czech Republic: Ladislav Krejci

The most well-known, active Czech player is probably Leverkusen's Patrik Schick, especially after the greatest season in the club's history. The striker will no doubt be key at the Euros, along with West Ham United's Vladimir Coufal and Tomas Soucek. But, the most well-rounded player in the squad is a 25-year-old who has played only 10 games for the national team. 

Ladislav Krejci | AFP Ladislav Krejci | AFP

Ladislav Krejci plays primarily in defence for the Czech Republic (FIFA rank 36), but is also capable of playing in the midfield. Athletic and technically sound, he is also a goal threat, having netted over 40 times in the last four seasons for the country's most successful club, Sparta Prague. The club captain is also an accomplished penalty-taker. Admittedly, he is yet to be tested at the highest level, but the Euros could be just what he needed. A group comprising Portugal, Turkey and Georgia could be the perfect test for his range of skills and temperament. 

Denmark: Rasmus Hojlund

Denmark has no dearth of quality. Among others, Barcelona's Andreas Christensen, Sporting Lisbon's Morten Hjulmand and Tottenham Hotspur's Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg are all expected to be key. Manchester United's Christian Eriksen has fallen off, but could still turn it on for his country. But, despite the obvious talent in the squad, there do not seem to be many players, at the moment, who can be outstanding. Eriksen's United teammate Rasmus Hojlund has the potential to be just that. 

denmark manchester united Rasmus Hojlund Rasmus Hojlund | AFP

The 21-year-old endured a difficult first season in England but finished as a disgraceful United's top scorer with 16 goals. He was also Denmark's top scorer during Euros qualifying with seven goals. Most importantly, his Denmark teammates create chances for the striker, instead of blindly running into trouble like his United teammates. Hojlund will have the opportunity to silence haters in England—Denmark (FIFA rank 21) is in the same group as the Three Lions, along with Serbia and Slovenia. 

England: Harry Kane

england captain Harry Kane afp Harry Kane | AFP

England has the best attack at the Euros, just ahead of France. Phil Foden and Bukayo Saka are expected to start on the wings and can dazzle any defence in the world. And, Jude Bellingham was the best player in La Liga last season. However, England's best player is still captain Harry Kane, 30. And he is why England's attack looks better on paper than France's. With Robert Lewandowski slowly declining, Cristiano Ronaldo on an extended vacation in Saudi Arabia and Erling Haaland still incomplete in his overall game, Kane is currently the best striker in the world. After a truly phenomenal debut season with Bayern Munich (44 goals and 12 assists in 45 games), he still did not win a trophy with his club last season. Kane will be hoping to set that right with England (rank 4) at the Euros.

France: Kylian Mbappe

france captain Kylian Mbappe | AFP Kylian Mbappe | AFP

France has the best squad in international football. The exciting Eduardo Camavinga and Aurelien Tchouameni, the resurgent Ousmane Dembele, the evergreen Antoine Greizmann and the excellent William Saliba would all be the best players in dozens of national teams. But, France also has, arguably, the best player in world football today in Kylian Mbappe. Though there is a feeling the 25-year-old has not achieved what his talent deserves at club level so far, that is likely to change after his recent move to the biggest club in world football. Moreover, the new Real Madrid No. 9 has always stepped up for his national team (FIFA rank 2), which he now captains.

Georgia: Khvicha Kvaratskhelia

georgia Khvicha Kvaratskhelia | Reuters Khvicha Kvaratskhelia | Reuters

Big surprise. The only Georgia player who is genuinely famous is also the country's best footballer. Kvaratskhelia, 23, has been spoken about with excitement for a few years now (at least by those who can pronounce his name). And, he showed what the hype was all about in the 2022-2023 season, when he was instrumental in Napoli's first Italian league title since the heady Maradona days. In the process, he earned the nickname “Kvaradona” from the Napoli faithful. But, last season was a sobering one with Napoli falling to a 10th-place finish. 

Georgia, who are making their Euros debut, have been given no chance of progressing beyond the group stage, but if Kvaradona is at his devastating best, he could help Georgia (FIFA rank 75) exceed expectations.

Germany: Florian Wirtz

germany Florian Wirtz Florian Wirtz | AP

Toni Kroos, 34, had announced his retirement from international football in 2021, but made his return against France in March, creating a goal within seven seconds in the 0-2 win. He has announced that he will retire after the Euros, but is coming off the back of a fantastic season for Real Madrid. While Kroos will be key, it is the man who scored from his assist against France that looks like Germany's best player this time around. 

Florian Wirtz, 21, was in inspired form for Leverkusen, scoring 18 and assisting 20 goals in all competitions. Arguably among the top five playmakers in the world now, Wirtz has great vision, speed and technical ability. He has a fantastic shot on him and is one of the best dribblers Germany has produced. The home team, currently ranked 16, is in a tricky group with Scotland, Hungary and Switzerland. Die Mannschaft will need all of Wirtz's dynamism to ensure it does not slip up.

Hungary: Dominik Szoboszlai

hungary captain Dominik Szoboszlai | Reuters Dominik Szoboszlai | Reuters

Hungary were remarkable in the last Euros, where they were in the group of death with Portugal, France and Germany. And, they still nearly made it out. This time, the team is a popular pick as the dark horse, and with good reason. While Hungary was a coherent and resolute unit at Euro 2020, it is so much more today, especially in terms of creativity and attacking play. Key to this new Hungary (FIFA rank 26) is Liverpool star Dominik Szoboszlai. 

The 23-year-old was made captain in 2022 and the team has lost only once since then. A recurring theme in Hungary's game seems to be to give the ball to its midfield maestro and let him do his thing. Szoboszlai had scored the last-minute winner that secured Hungary's place in Euro 2020, aged 20. But, he had to withdraw from the tournament because of injury. This time, the stage is well and truly set for the Szoboszlai show.

Italy: Nicolo Barella

italy Nicolo Barella | AP Nicolo Barella | AP

The holders are much changed from Euro 2020, with retired stalwarts and injured key players. Goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma, the new captain, will be vital. Attacker Federico Chiesa and center-back Alessandro Bastoni will also be important players for the team. However, midfielder Nicolo Barella edges out those three as Italy's best player for now. A two-time Serie A champion with Inter Milan, the 27-year-old does the work of two men. The midfield dynamo is going to be at the heart of everything the ninth-ranked Italy do at Euro 2024.

Netherlands: Virgil van Dijk

The Dutch team's three most important players are captain and defender Virgil van Dijk, midfielder Frenkie de Jong and attacker Memphis Depay. FDJ is out of the Euros with an injury. The Barca star was pivotal for the Dutch team in its transition from defence to attack. Therefore, talented attackers such as Depay and Cody Gakpo may struggle to make the expected impact at the tournament. The Dutch may then have to fall back on their backline to win matches. Luckily, the defence is dependable, more so than the attack this time around. 

netherlands Virgil van Dijk Virgil van Dijk | AFP

Virgil van Dijk had a brilliant season with Liverpool after taking over the club captaincy. The 32-year-old rediscovered the form that made him the world's best defender in 2019 and will have to be at his best to guide his country (FIFA rank 7) through tricky waters. 

Poland: Robert Lewandowski

Aged 35, the Polish captain is no longer the force he once was. But, as usual, almost every mention of the Poland team will include a reference to the world's best striker. Factually, Lewandowski may have been overtaken by Kane, but his numbers are still impressive. He had 26 goals and nine assists in 49 games for Barcelona last season. Moreover, it is difficult to ignore the pedigree of a man who once occupied the same echelons of the game, in terms of his goal/assist output, as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. 

poland Robert Lewandowski | AP Robert Lewandowski | AP

The problem will be that in this Poland team, he can be isolated easily by opposition defences. This has been the case in past tournaments. Lewandowski still managed seven goals and one assist in three Euros and two World Cups.

Portugal: Bernardo Silva

portugal Bernardo Silva | AP Bernardo Silva | AP

While Cristiano Ronaldo was toying with defences in Saudi Arabia (the 39-year-old scored a remarkable 50 goals last season), Bernardo Silva has been competing at the highest level for Manchester City. Notably, Ronaldo, disputably the greatest goalscorer in the history of football and undisputably the top scorer in men's international football with 130 goals, has maintained a brilliant goalscoring record for Portugal despite playing his club football at a lower level—12 goals in 11 games since the disappointment of Qatar 2022. But, he may no longer be a machine that can carry teams singlehandedly. Thankfully, he does not have to be. Sixth-ranked Portugal has one of the best squads at the Euros with several players capable of match-winning performances. Silva is the most important among them and apart from his obvious talent, he is also one of the hardest-working players in all of football.

Romania: Nicolae Stanciu

romania captain Nicolae Stanciu ap Nicolae Stanciu | AP

The Romanian captain, attacking midfielder Nicolae Stanciu, 31, also plays in Saudi Arabia. But Romania are not blessed with the same wealth of talent as Portugal. While there are no Gheorghe Hagi's in this team, Hagi's son, Ianis, is a part of the squad. But, the gifted 25-year-old, who is an attacking midfielder, just like his legendary father, is not expected to start ahead of Stanciu despite playing his club football at a higher level in La Liga last season. 

While Stanciu is certainly no “Maradona of the Carpathians”, on his day, he is capable of taking on the best defences. Such days are sadly not frequent enough. Creative, hardworking and capable of shooting from range, dictating the play and dribbling past opponents, Stanciu is still the most important player for Romania (FIFA rank 46), narrowly ahead of Tottenham Hotspur centre-back Radu Dragusin.

Scotland: Andy Robertson

Scotland is much more than the sum of its parts and midfielder John McGinn can be even more important than captain Andy Robertson. But, the Liverpool left-back is by far Scotland's best player, and his leadership and drives down the left will be vital. The source of goals is likely to be varied as Scott McTominay showed by popping up with crucial goals during qualifying. However, Robertson, 30, who is one of the best left-backs in the world, is the only irreplaceable player in the Scotland (FIFA rank 39) squad.

Serbia: Dusan Tadic

Dusan Tadic | Reuters Dusan Tadic | Reuters

Serbia's strength is in the attack. With Dusan Vlahovic, Aleksandar Mitrovic, Dusan Tadic, Filip Kostic and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic in its ranks, the Serbs are capable of troubling any defence at the Euros. 

The team's best player is still 35-year-old captain Tadic. A Ballon d'Or nominee with Ajax in 2019, Tadic now plays for Fenerbahce in Turkey. He contributed 16 goals and 16 assists for the Turkish league runners-up last season. A technically gifted and intelligent playmaker, Tadic has the implicit trust of the coach, Serbian legend Dragan Stojkovic, who was once known as the “Maradona of the Balkans”. Tadic, who has made over 100 appearances for Serbia (FIFA rank 33), has proven himself to be the successor to Stojkovic's No. 10 jersey.

Slovakia: Milan Skriniar

Two 29-year-olds, Paris Saint-Germain defender Milan Skriniar and Napoli central midfielder Stanislav Lobotka, are Slovakia's best players. Lobotka joined Napoli in 2020 and has become one of the best midfielders in Serie A. He was key to Napoli's title win in 2022-2023. He is good at winning the ball back and playing line-breaking passes and is the country's most important player going forward. But, captain Skriniar is even more important for the team overall. 

Milan Skriniar | Reuters Milan Skriniar | Reuters

He has been the a top-class centre-back for the best part of a decade, having played over 190 games for Inter Milan before his move to Paris. A strong tackler, who is good in the air and on the ball, with positional intelligence, Skriniar has to lead from the back as 48th-ranked Slovakia attempt to beat the odds. 

Slovenia: Jan Oblak

Jan Oblak | AFP Jan Oblak | AFP

Benjamin Sesko is one of the best young strikers in the world today. The 21-year-old finished the season strongly for RB Leipzig in Germany and is now a target for more than one top club. At the Euros, he can trouble any defence. But, it remains to be seen whether Sesko's teammates can give him the service he needs to thrive. Therefore, the team's most important player and by far the best, as of now, is captain and goalkeeper Jan Oblak. The 31-year-old, who is among the best keepers in the world, had a stellar season for Atletico Madrid. And, his presence will be a strong base for Slovenia (FIFA rank 57) to build from.

Spain: Rodri

spain cdm Rodri | AFP Rodri | AFP

La Roja may not be the team it was when it dominated world football from 2008 to 2012, but it still has a collection of outstanding players, with 16-year-old Barcelona sensation Lamine Yamal being the most exciting of them. But, Rodri, 27, who is the best defensive midfielder in world football today, stands head and shoulders above his teammates as the best player for eighth-ranked Spain. He was deployed as a defender at Qatar 2022, but now plays in his best position and he can have a significantly higher impact on the team's overall game. 

Switzerland: Granit Xhaka

Granit Xhaka | AP Granit Xhaka | AP

19th-ranked Switzerland has a brilliant record at recent tournaments. They reached the knock-outs of the last three World Cups and the last two Euros. Their elimination of France at Euro 2020, after a penalty shootout, was particularly memorable. The best players such as Leverkusen's Granit Xhaka, Manchester City defender Manuel Akanji and Inter Milan goalkeeper Yann Sommer are in great form. 

Midfielder Xhaka, 31, has just had his best-ever season. A technically gifted player, the former Gunner who captains Switzerland, is also a natural leader on the pitch. However, he has at times been criticized for his temperament. No one is likely to write off the Swiss, but how far they go at Euro 2024 may come down to how well Xhaka performs.

Turkey: Hakan Calhanoglu

turkey football guler and Hakan Calhanoglu | Reuters Hakan Calhanoglu | Reuters

Undoubtedly Turkey's star man, 30-year-old Hakan Calhanoglu had an outstanding season for Serie A title-winning Inter Milan. He contributed with 15 goals and three assists from midfield. Calhanoglu is a free-kick specialist and is renowned for his striking from distance. Though he has played on the wing and in more offensive midfield roles, his best position is as a deep-lying playmaker. He is also a brilliant penalty-taker. At Euro 2024, Calhanoglu, who captains the Turks, will be ably supported by his teammates, including Real Madrid's exciting teenager Arda Guler, as world number 40 Turkey look to overcome the disappointment of Euro 2020.

Ukraine: Artem Dovbyk

Russia's invasion could not stop Ukraine from qualifying for Euro 2024. In the last Euros, it had seemed as if Ukraine, which reached the quarterfinals, was on the cusp of a golden generation. The country had won the under-20 World Cup in 2019 and had a group of highly regarded young players coming through. But, it is a player who was not part of that U-20 triumph—striker Artem Dovbyk—who has emerged as the nation's best player ahead of Euro 2024. 

girona ukraine Artem Dovbyk Artem Dovbyk | X

He contriubted 25 goals and 10 assists in all competitions to Girona's incredible season, in which they finished third in La Liga. He was also the top goalscorer in the league with 24 goals. Ukraine (rank 22) has a good squad and two impressive goalkeepers in Real Madrid's Andriy Lunin and Benefica's Anatoliy Trubin, but Dovbyk's performance will be key to the team's hopes.

Join our WhatsApp Channel to get the latest news, exclusives and videos on WhatsApp