Euro 2020: The tournament's most successful partnerships in the group phase

The link-up play between Germany's Robin Gosens and Kai Havertz against Portugal was a treat to watch. Similar notable partnerships in Euro 2020 are listed below:

Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci during Euro 2020. (Image: Twitter)

The group phase in Euro 2020 is done and dusted. The 24 teams have been reduced to 16 as they prepare for tense knockout matches. There are a few mouth-watering matches awaiting us in the round of 16, but first, let us examine the competition’s group stage, specifically the blossoming partnerships on the pitch. Football is a team sport, and while 11 players must execute their roles to win, the importance of players developing partnerships throughout the pitch cannot be overstated. So far, we’ve seen some fantastic link-up plays between specific sets of players. Germany’s Robin Gosens combined beautifully with Kai Havertz to demolish Portugal, while Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci have been rock solid at the back.

Let us look at the successful partnerships from the group phase of Euro 2020:

Robin Gosens-Kai Havertz (Germany)

Gosens enjoyed one of the games of his life in the thrilling come-from-behind 4-2 victory against Portugal in their second group match. Billed as one of the tournament’s favourites, Germany had a less than convincing start to the tournament after losing 0-1 to Euro 2016 finalists France. More than the result, it was the performance that sent shockwaves across Europe. With their knockout spot on the line, Joachim Low’s team demonstrated their potential with a fantastic performance against Portugal.

The Atlanta wing-back was their hero that evening, scoring one and creating another two. He had support in the attacking third in Havertz. The duo linked up well in the penalty box, making it near impossible for Portugal to stop them. The comeback began with Gosens’ drilled cross – intended for Havertz – was turned into his own net by Ruben Dias before the Atlanta wing-back set-up the Chelsea player for Germany’s third in the second half. Gosens himself got on the scoresheet, with his side’s fourth of the night. That evening, it was the Gosens-Havertz combination that proved too much for Portugal.

Paul Pogba- N’Golo Kante (France)

Reigning world champions France entered the Euro 2020 as one of the tournament favourites, but have struggled to exert their dominance in the competition till now. The Les Bleus, however, have done everything necessary to finish first in Group F, also known as the “Group of Death.” Teamed up alongside Germany, Portugal and Hungary, Didier Deschamps’ side started the tournament on a positive note. They edged past Germany 1-0, thanks to a Mats Hummels’ own goal. They could have scored more had it not been for the offside flag.

However, they were only able to secure draws in the other matches against Hungary and Portugal. Their performances and results might have varied, but one thing remained constant – Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante’s partnership in the middle of the park. The Manchester United and Chelsea midfielders’ combination has been the key in Les Bleus controlling the play better in the group stage. Kante largely assumes the role of the deep-lying or ball-winning midfielder, while Pogba dictates the play from the middle of the park.

The Chelsea man is known for his ability to close down the opponents and win the ball back from them. His tireless work rate releases Pogba, who plays with a lot of freedom. The Man United midfielder has an array of position options – he can go short, deep, release through ball, provide diagonal crosses among others. His physical strength and dribbling abilities allow him to get past the opposition defenders, to maintain France’s pressure in the final third.

On the rare occasion when Kante surges forward, Pogba covers the space left vacant by the 30-year-old. The partnership has been a key component in France winning the 2018 World Cup. Three years later, with both midfielders at the top of their game, Deschamps’ side might fancy another deep run in this competition.

Giorgio Chiellini-Leonardo Bonucci (Italy)

Italy are the in-form team in the Euro 2020. The Azzurri were impressive before the tournament began and have carried that form into this competition. Their foundation is, as expected, fortified with a strong defence. They were impressive in the qualifiers, conceding just the four goals from ten matches. It’s the same tale in the tournament, with Italy proving to be a difficult nut to crack. They are yet to concede a goal and have kept three clean sheets. It is largely down to the colossal presence of Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci.

The centre-back pair have benefitted from playing club football together with Juventus. The duo has been a rock at the back, positioning themselves brilliantly in the defensive third to deny opponents an opening. The understanding they share with each other and their incredible partnership in the backline plays a key role in Italy’s performances till now.

It is not a surprise to know that Italy have kept a clean sheet in each of their past 11 matches in all competitions. Infact the Azzurri are unbeaten in 30 matches in all competitions – 25 wins and five draws – since losing against Portugal in September 2018. Chiellini and Bonucci’s experience at the back is one of the main reasons behind this impressive run.

Sportslumo Desk

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