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Euro 2012 - Best Breakthrough Players

Euro 2012 Best Breakthrough Players

 

There were a number of surprise packages in terms of breakthrough players at Euro 2012 this summer

The big international tournaments are usually so highly anticipated due to the presence of the star players who have already proved themselves at the top level for both club and country, earning a glowing reputation which they seek to continue and even build upon in the face of pressure and mass expectations.

But without fail, at every major competition, there are a number of those players who fail to hit the predicted heights whilst new, somewhat unknown players make a significant breakthrough and impact to announce themselves at the fore of the sport, ensuring that they are the ones to watch out for in the future.

And equally, whilst there were a handful of premier turns that disappointed at Euro 2012, there was also a select bunch of new players who propelled themselves into the spotlight, increasing their own personal value and subsequently giving on looking domestic manager’s potential targets in the European transfer market for the season ahead.

Croatia’s stay at the championship was brief despite their impressive performances and it was striker Mario Mandzukic who really stood out alongside Luka Modric as an integral part of Slaven Bilic’s side.

Nikica Jelavic was the man expected to provide the goals for the Croat’s following a strong campaign with Rangers and Everton but it was Mandzukic who assumed the lead role in attack, scoring three goals in the group phase and causing Spain, Italy and the Republic of Ireland a whole host of problems.

Such was Mandzukic’s eye catching display overall, he was snapped up by Bayern Munich from Wolfsburg almost immediately after Croatia were eliminated.

Michael Krohn-Delhi was only a prolific figure in Denmark and in particular Brondby, his club, prior to the start of Euro 2012.

The experienced midfielder had to fight for his place in Morten Olsen’s starting line-up for a daunting opener against Holland but his selection proved to be an excellent decision.

Krohn-Delhi announced himself on the European stage with a huge goal against the run of play which gifted the Danes victory over the Orange Army.

His trickiness, pace and vision in the middle of the field certainly caught a lot of admirers and his attacking ability was confirmed against Germany after he launched himself forward to bolt a stunning header past Manuel Neuer, which equalised the match at the time.

Denmark were to go out despite a bold effort in the group phase but Krohn-Delhi must surely be set for bigger things as he moves into the latter part of his career.

Both Mandzukic and Krohn-Delhi are worthy candidates for the best breakthrough player at Euro 2012, but overall that accolade arguably has to go to Joao Moutinho of Portugal.

The Porto playmaker was hardly a newcomer to the international stage prior to the tournament having already won 40 caps for his country but Ukraine/Poland really provided the 25-year-old with a platform to show his true class at a prestigious competition.

Mourinho’s contribution and control in midfield was vital towards Portugal’s run to the last four and his qualities, which seem to emulate former national legend Rui Costa, will be an integral to the Portuguese at major tournaments for the next few years.