The excitement for UEFA Euro 2020 continues to build as we’re exactly a week away from the tournament’s opening match. Earlier this week, I ranked the top 10 playmaking midfielders who are set to take over in the coming weeks.
Today is the final list of my series covering groups of players at specific positions who are set to shine at the Euros this summer. When it comes to grabbing the headlines, these will probably be the players who do it the most.
Whether it be lining up as a natural striker or on either side of that position as a winger, these are the ten best goalscorers who will be depended upon by their respective national teams to light up the scoreboard and lead them to European glory this summer.
For the final time, here’s who I think deserves a spot:
- Timo Werner, Germany (Chelsea)
I got you for a second, didn’t I? I’m not that biased of a Chelsea fan. Now for the real list:
Lorenzo Insigne, Italy (Napoli)
Insigne gets the nod here over a lot of other top talents based on the season he just had as well as his ability to create almost as many goals for others as he does for himself. Having scored at least eight goals and contributed at least six assists in each of the past six seasons, the Italian winger has settled nicely at Napoli in Serie A. He’s coming off of a career best 19 goals this season, which placed him just outside the top 20 among players from Europe’s Big 5 leagues. Insigne is extremely active on the offensive end, trailing only Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo this past season in shots taken with 136. At 5’4”, Insigne uses his speed and leverage to beat his opponents and cause chaos in the box. Italy will install him out on the wing with the hopes that his current form transfers over to national team success this summer.
Antoine Griezmann, France (Barcelona)
The pandemic, along with the pressure of living up to a big money transfer, put an end to Griezmann’s streak of seven consecutive seasons with double-digit goals last year in his first season with Barcelona. This season, the French striker brought his tally back up to 13 goals while also chipping in seven assists. A good passer in his own right, Griezmann’s best skill is making the proper run in behind the defense in order to unlock it. Even at age 30, he still possesses the speed that makes defenders sweat when having to cover him one on one. While maybe not the focal point of the French national team anymore, he tends to play his best ball when he links up with them. He was their leading goal scorer at Euro 2016 and their joint top scorer during their World Cup win in 2018. If teams focus too much on the other talent France has, he’s going to make them pay.
Gareth Bale, Wales (Real Madrid)
It seemed like Bale was properly buried at Real Madrid last year when he only made 12 starts and scored only two goals. Loaned out to his former club Tottenham Hotspur to begin the season, Bale bounced back with his first double-digit goal tally (11) in three seasons, including scoring twice on the final matchday vs. Leicester City to eliminate them from UEFA Champions League contention. At age 31, health has always been the main concern for the Welshman, followed by his attitude. He’s still a pretty fast player, albeit not as much as he once was, and his shooting prowess in front of the net is still top notch. The last time Wales was at the Euros in 2016, Bale was a big part of helping them qualify for the tournament and their subsequent run to the semifinals. While he may have to turn back the clock a little bit, Bale is perfectly capable of once again putting Wales on his back and carrying them past where people expect them to finish.
Karim Benzema, France (Real Madrid)
“Guess who’s back, back again. Benzema’s back, tell a friend.” After years away from the French national team due to an ongoing trial involving an incident with one of his former teammates, Benzema has made amends with manager Didier Deschamps and has been recalled for the Euros this summer. The striker’s form has made it impossible to ignore him any longer, as he is coming off of his third straight 20 plus goal season and has been the main reason for Real Madrid’s success in the post-Cristiano Ronaldo era. The Frenchman is adept at creating space for himself to get off his shot, which he did 122 times this season, which was the sixth most in Europe. Benzema is used to throwing around his weight in the box while also possessing the skills to be a quality passer, highlighted by his nine assists this past season. While France have been dominant the past few years, they’ve missed Benzema’s presence at the top of their formation. With him back in the fold, France are set to be firing on all cylinders this summer.
Ciro Immobile, Italy (Lazio)
While Immobile may not be known to the casual soccer fan, he’s a name that should be on everyone’s radar. After leading Serie A with 36 goals last year, Immobile followed that up with 20 goals this year, which was the sixth time he hit that mark in his career. Still going strong at age 31, the Italian striker placed inside the top 10 with 114 shots this past season. While he isn’t a big guy or the fastest player on the pitch, Immobile gets his goals by being instinctual and by being clinical with his chances. His last appearance for Italy at a major tournament was at Euro 2016, where he only played 89 minutes total in two appearances. This time around, he’ll be one of the main components of a team many consider to be a dark horse candidate to win the Euros this summer.
Romelu Lukaku, Belgium (Inter Milan)
Much maligned at different points of his career for some reason, Lukaku is coming off the second-best goal total of his career (24) and his eighth straight season of posting double-digit goals. He even found the time to chip in a career best 11 assists as he helped lead Inter Milan to a league title in only his second season with the club. At 6’3½” and just over 200 pounds, Lukaku might be one of the toughest guys to mark in the box. The Belgium striker pairs that strength with above average speed for someone his size, using both skills to be an exceptional outlet for whatever team he’s playing for. He also doesn’t waste many chances, as he scored a goal on nearly 27 percent of his shots this past season. Lukaku hit seven goals for Belgium during Euro 2020 qualifying and is favored to repeat that same high level of success when they first take the field vs. Russia.
Harry Kane, England (Tottenham Hotspur)
The best natural striker in the EPL, Kane joined Lukaku as the only players across the Big 5 leagues in Europe to finish in the top 10 in both goals and assists. His 23 goals was his seventh straight double-digit tally while his 14 assists were a career best and the second highest mark in Europe. Even when he’s missed a few matches due to injury, Kane has been a consistent source of goals for Spurs, having not scored less than 17 since the 2013-2014 season, when he only appeared in 10 matches at the age of 20. Kane’s best attribute is the power he’s able to generate behind his shots, making it tough for opposing goalkeepers to stop or control the rebound. The Englishman also uses his somewhat gangly figure to create space in the box while also being a tough cover on set pieces. Kane is also used to shouldering the scoring load for both Spurs and England, as he was their top scorer in qualifying and at their last major tournament in 2018 when they placed fourth at the FIFA World Cup. Reports state that Kane is looking for a transfer this summer, so he’ll be properly motivated to shine on the biggest stage in order to make that happen.
Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal (Juventus)
We’ve reached the point in this list where any of the next three gentlemen have an excellent case to be number one. At age 36, Ronaldo continues to keep Father Time at bay and remain one of the top players in the game. His 29 goals was the third best total in Europe this season, but somehow only the ninth best total in his career. While his other skills, such as his passing and ability to beat defenders, have lessened over the years, the Portuguese goal-scoring machine keeps on chugging. Ronaldo still puts the fear of God in opposing defenses, being able to create space to unleash his full fury behind each one of his shots. At the same time, he still possesses an amazing ability to connect with balls in the air on headers despite his age. Most soccer fans will remember a heartbroken Ronaldo having to be subbed off early due to injury at the Euro 2016 final, only to cry tears of joy when Portugal were able to beat France. Now surrounded by an improved cast of offensive talent, Ronaldo has an excellent opportunity to be the focal point all the way through as his team attempt to defend their title.
Kylian Mbappé, France (PSG)
Even before going on to win the Best Young Player Award at the 2018 World Cup with France, Mbappé was already pouring in the goals as a teenager in Ligue 1. Still only 22-years-old, Mbappé is already over 100 league goals in his club career and is coming off of a 27-goal campaign with PSG, which was the fifth best mark in Europe. Mbappé gets the nod over Ronaldo due to his youthfulness and his otherworldly speed. The French winger successfully beat 98 players in league play this season, which was the tenth best total in Europe. He was also fourth in Europe in Goal-Creating Actions, which includes the second most fouls drawn leading to a goal. Mbappé is impossible to defend in the open field and also has a knack of finding a way to latch onto balls into the box, no matter how difficult. Having had to deal with the spotlight on him for basically his whole career, the Frenchman isn’t going to shy away from his responsibility as the focal point of the team’s attack. If he’s able to even come close to his World Cup performance, France are going to be almost impossible to stop this summer.
Robert Lewandowski, Poland (Bayern Munich)
Lewandowski was brought into this world to do one thing: score goals. The Polish striker has failed to score double-digit goals just once in his 13-year career and his coming off of his best season at age 32. He scored 41 league goals for Bayern Munich this past season, breaking Gerd Müller’s 49-year-old single season goal scoring record in the German Bundesliga, and it only took him 28 starts to do it. He had the fifth most shots in Europe with 130, but he scored a goal on 31.5 percent of them. Lewandowski has everything you want in a striker, other than above average speed. If you put the ball within in his radius, he’s usually going to find a way to control it and put it on net. Despite working with less talent on the national team, Lewandowski still maintains a great goal-scoring record and helped lead Poland to a quarterfinal finish at Euro 2016. He was coming off of his best season with Bayern at that time as well, so is history set to repeat itself? Either way, rest assured that Lewandowski will find his way onto the scoreboard this summer. However, Poland’s fate at the Euros is tied directly to how often he does.
That will do it as far as player rankings are concerned. Be on the lookout next week for my full team-by-team preview of Euro 2020, which will include my predictions for how far each team will advance. For more of my soccer coverage, check out “Atletico TV” on Facebook and the “Gateway to Soccer Show” on YouTube.