Five extraordinary players who flopped in Euro 2016 group stages
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Five extraordinary players who flopped in Euro 2016 group stages

Players who had a lot riding on them failed to deliver spectacularly in the group stages of the coveted Euro 2016. HT looks at 5 such players who failed to live up to their billing.

euro 2016 Updated: Jun 24, 2016 17:31 IST
Aurko Mahapatra
Aurko Mahapatra
Hindustan Times
Euro 2016,European Championship,Harry Kane
Germany's midfielder Thomas Mueller during the Euro 2016 group C football match between Northern Ireland and Germany at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris.(AFP Photo)

Between the genius of Dimitri Payet’s last minute screamer in France’s opening game to Gareth Bale’s masterful freekicks that kept Wales’ dreams alive, Euro 2016 group stages have witnessed disappointing performances too. Players who had a lot riding on them failed to deliver spectacularly in the group stages of the coveted championship. HT looks at 5 such players who failed to live up to their billing:

Thomas Müller

The Bayern Munich icon came to the Euros with a lot of hype surrounding him. Having played an instrumental role in Germany’s Fifa World Cup success two years ago, and coming from a season where he partnered with Robert Lewandowski to score 32 goals in all competitions, the 26-year-old attacker was expected to light up the tournament. But he is yet to find the back of the net having played on the right wing. On the plus side, Müller still has time to make amends, and if Germany are to live up to their favourites tag, they will need the Bavarian at the top of his game.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic

He famously claimed that he had not missed out on the World Cup in 2014 but that the WC had missed out on him. His comments were met with a positive reaction from fans around the world but the same can’t be said about the knockout stages of Euro 2016. Ibrahimovic barely managed to leave his mark in the group stage matches, with Sweden finishing bottom of the barrel. There’s always the argument that he didn’t have the best of teams to support him. But even when on the ball, Ibrahimovic never looked comfortable and failed to cater to expectations.

Sweden's forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic (right) arrives at the pitch before the Euro 2016 group E football match between Sweden and Belgium at the Allianz Riviera stadium in Nice. (AFP Photo)

At 34, the Swede has bowed out of international football and it makes us wonder how long his club career will last after he moves out of Paris Saint Germain.

Robert Lewandowski

It seems, both the Bayern Munich attackers need each other to terrorise defences the way they did in the 2015-16 season. The Polish star’s Euro story hasn’t been very different from that of Thomas Müller, with a frustrated Lewandowski failing to shine at all. He has been selfish with the ball and failed to assist his teammates, along with scoring. After scoring a personal best of 42 goals across all competions last season, he was widely touted as the best player in the qualifying phase for Euros. Here’s hoping Lewandowski will rediscover his form if Poland progress beyond the Round of 16.

Poland's forward Robert Lewandowski takes part in a training session in La Baule. (AFP Photo)

Raheem Sterling

This is the name most English fans may have been waiting for. After a season of fervent booing, the confidence of the 21 year-old seems to be at an all-time low. After what seemed to be a promising start at Manchester City at the start of the 2015-16 season, the Barbados-born leftwinger has endured a terrible 2016 for his club and country.

He has brought that form into the Euros, with the pinnacle of this bad patch epitomised in his first half miss against Wales during the group stages. Sterling was substituted for Sturridge, who eventually scored the winning goal for England against Wales. At this point, it looks like Sterling needs to find his way back into England coach Roy Hodgson’s first team plans. Till then, he must play the role of a super sub for England in the games to come.

England's Raheem Sterling reacts after missing a chance to score. (Reuters Photo)

Harry Kane

The Tottenham Hotspur star Harry Kane was meant to be leading the line of this reformed England squad, brimming with young talent. His Spurs teammates Dier and Alli have brilliantly lived up to that billing but the same can’t be said for the towering striker. Coming off from a season where his goals ensured Uefa Champion’s League qualification for Tottenham and the Golden Boot for himself, Kane came to France full of confidence and support. But after a dismal and an uninspiring performance against Russia and Wales, that confidence seems to have disappeared. There is mounting pressure on the Spurs frontman to find his club form in the England shirt if he features in the First Team.

England's Harry Kane sits on the pitch during the Euro 2016 Group B football match between Slovakia and England at the Geoffroy Guichard stadium in Saint-Etienne, France. (AP Photo)

First Published: Jun 24, 2016 17:30 IST