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Cristiano Ronaldo and Kylian Mbappe Aim to Return to Form in Euro 2024 Round of 16


The Euro 2024 Round of 16 kicks off with Switzerland vs Italy on June 29. Hosts Germany face Denmark later that day. With exciting football and vibrant fans lighting up cities across Germany, Euro 2024 has thrilled even though the European game’s biggest stars have failed to take the tournament by storm.

Ronaldo and Mbappe Struggle to Shine

Between injury struggles, shaky form, and bad luck, many of football’s leading lights have underwhelmed in the group phase. Portugal striker Cristiano Ronaldo, playing at a record sixth Euros, is yet to strike in three appearances. If he manages to score, the 39-year-old will become the oldest ever goalscorer at the tournament.

Arguably the best player in the world, Kylian Mbappe is only off the mark for France with a penalty against Poland in a disappointing 1-1 draw that resulted in the favorites finishing second in Group D. Mbappe spurned a golden opportunity against Austria, missing a draw against the Netherlands with a broken nose before returning with a mask in Les Bleus’ third outing.

France coach Didier Deschamps is hopeful the forward will quickly find his devastating best with a last 16 clash against Belgium beckoning. “He’s hungry to play and the game would have done him some good,” said Deschamps.

Other Struggling Stars

Poland’s talisman Robert Lewandowski could not feature in their opening defeat against the Netherlands because of a thigh problem. The Barcelona striker and his country were eliminated as he was ineffective when he came off the bench against Austria, before he netted a penalty in the France draw.

England duo Jude Bellingham and Harry Kane scored from open play against Serbia and Denmark respectively but have vastly under-performed after thriving at Real Madrid and Bayern Munich this season. England coach Gareth Southgate hooked Kane in a drab 1-1 draw against Denmark, but the subsequent 0-0 against Slovenia was even more dour. “Not every player is going to star in every game,” said Southgate afterward.

France’s Antoine Griezmann and England’s Phil Foden have also fired blanks after strong seasons for Atletico Madrid and Manchester City. “Sometimes (Griezmann’s) generosity means he doesn’t have as clear a head as he should have,” said Deschamps, who benched the midfielder in the final group match.

Belgium’s all-time top scorer Romelu Lukaku is also without a goal, albeit not for want of trying, having had three disallowed by VAR as his team slunk through in second from Group E. Veteran Luka Modric, 38, usually a key figure in Croatia’s frequently impressive exploits, did score against Italy but only after missing a penalty and struggling in the first two matches, with his country eventually eliminated.

Surprises and Highlights

Remarkably, there have been seven own goals, making up 26 percent of the 27 inadvertently netted in the competition’s history. Even the players who have shone thus far have largely been surprises for one reason or another. N’Golo Kante is proving key for France despite moving a year ago to play in Saudi Arabia, while talented youngster Jamal Musiala has been hosts Germany’s leading light ahead of veteran stars Toni Kroos, Ilkay Gundogan, and Kai Havertz.

Target man Niclas Fullkrug has scored twice for Germany like Musiala, while Slovakia’s Ivan Schranz and Romania’s Razvan Marin also have a pair of goals to their name. Netherlands forward Cody Gakpo finished neatly for his second goal in a 3-2 defeat by Austria, in a performance their coach Ronald Koeman labeled “appalling”.

Current Top Scorers and Top Teams

The tournament’s current top scorer is debutants Georgia’s Georges Mikautadze with three goals, two of those from the penalty spot. Spain qualified top of Group B with a game to spare and have arguably been the team of the tournament so far, but two of their key players have been unlikely candidates in Fabian Ruiz and Marc Cucurella.

With 15 matches still to play before one of the 16 remaining sides is crowned champions in Berlin on July 14, fans are still waiting for the tournament’s star names to join the party. As the knockout stages approach, the world will be watching to see if Cristiano Ronaldo and Kylian Mbappe can return to form and lead their teams to glory.