Georginio Wijnaldum admitted he is "not completely happy" with a lack of playing time at Paris Saint-Germain but has vowed to fight for his place in the side.

The 30-year-old joined the Ligue 1 giants on a free transfer in June after failing to agree a new deal with Liverpool, where he had been a regular for the past five seasons.

Having started five of PSG's first seven games this term, Wijnaldum was named in the starting line-up just once in their five matches prior to the international break.

He has played a part in all but one of the French side's 12 fixtures in all competitions, but the midfielder is not pleased to be playing back-up to Marco Verratti, Idrissa Gueye and Ander Herrera.

"I can't say I'm completely happy," he said at a pre-match news conference ahead of the Netherlands' World Cup qualifier against Gibraltar.

"The situation is not what I wanted. I have played a lot in recent years, was always fit and also did very well. 

"This is something different and that takes getting used to. I was really looking forward to the new step and then this happens. It is very difficult.

"That's football and I'll have to learn to deal with that. I'm a fighter. I have to stay positive and work hard to turn it around."

 

Wijnaldum made 51 appearances for Liverpool in all competitions last season – his most in a single campaign since making his senior debut for Feyenoord in 2006-07.

The 502 minutes Wijnaldum has played this season is the 12th most among PSG players, behind the likes of Gueye (588) and Herrera (868).

Speaking last week, Netherlands head coach Louis van Gaal said he was "worried" by Wijnaldum's situation at the Parc des Princes.

"I already talked to him about that when he arrived here. But the alarm bells are not sounding just yet. I have lots of trust in certain players," Van Gaal added.

"You will remember I took him to the World Cup in 2014 when he was carrying an injury. I started with [Jonathan] De Guzman but Wijnaldum soon took over and did well."

Wijnaldum is in contention to start the Netherlands' home match with Gibraltar on Monday, with victory enough to guarantee a top-two finish in Group G should other results go their way.

Louis van Gaal is worried about Georginio Wijnaldum's lack of playing time with Paris Saint-Germain ahead of the Netherlands' next batch of World Cup qualifiers.

The 30-year-old joined the Ligue 1 giants on a free transfer in June after failing to agree a new contract with Liverpool, where he had spent the previous five seasons.

Having been a regular under Mauricio Pochettino at the start of the season, Wijnaldum has since lost his place in the side to Idrissa Gueye.

He has started just half of PSG's 12 matches since arriving and has featured a further five times from the substitutes' bench.

Wijnaldum's tally of 502 minutes is only the 12th most among PSG players in all competitions this term, with Gueye and Ander Herrera featuring more frequently in midfield.

But while having concerns over Wijnaldum's situation at the Parc des Princes, Van Gaal intends to stay loyal to his vice-captain.

"Of course I'm worried," he said at a news conference on Monday ahead of his side's qualifiers against Latvia and Gibraltar over the next week. 

"I already talked to him about that when he arrived here. But the alarm bells are not sounding just yet. I have lots of trust in certain players. 

"You will remember I took him to the World Cup in 2014 when he was carrying an injury. I started with [Jonathan] De Guzman but Wijnaldum soon took over and did well."

Wijnaldum is suspended for Friday's trip to Latvia as the Netherlands go in search of a third successive victory in Group G.

Van Gaal's side are above Norway on goal difference ahead of the games with Latvia and then Gibraltar three days later.

"This break is a bit calmer. Last time it was almost impossible with three matches," Van Gaal said. "We played those three games with a new group, new manager and new staff.

"I had to convince everyone of my plan, all within one and a half days. We then had one and a half days between each game."

Louis van Gaal praised the Netherlands for "completely outplaying" Montenegro and hopes his side's 4-0 win will fill them with confidence ahead of their crucial clash with Turkey. 

After being held 1-1 by Norway in van Gaal's first game in his third spell in charge, Oranje turned on the style in Saturday's World Cup qualifier with Montenegro at Philips Stadion.

Memphis Depay opened the scoring from the penalty spot and added a second just after the hour mark to put the Netherlands on course for a seventh straight home win.

That was the first time in 70 caps Depay had scored the first two goals for his country in a match, the Barcelona forward taking his goals tally to 30 across that period.

Captain Georginio Wijnaldum put the result beyond doubt with the hosts' third and Cody Gakpo rounded off the scoring 14 minutes from time with his first international goal.

Gakpo curled a sublime effort away from Matija Sarkic into the top-right corner, making him the fifth PSV player to score for the Netherlands in Eindhoven this century.

Montenegro wasted a number of chances throughout the contest, yet Van Gaal is pleased with the improvements made by his side in his short time in charge since replacing Frank de Boer.

"We started very badly, but in the end we were more careful than against Norway," he told NOS.

"In Norway we started well, but we were not very good throughout the game. Today, the 70 minutes after the opening phase were good.

"We had to win today. If we didn't we would have missed our target. I think that brought some pressure with it.

"We have completely outplayed Montenegro. We have had little time and still have to get to know each other better. 

"But if you can beat such a defensive team 4-0, it gives a boost to the next game."

 

That next game comes against Group G leaders Turkey in Amsterdam on Tuesday.

The Netherlands lost the reverse fixture 4-2 in March and trail Turkey by a point with five games remaining, while Norway are level on points with Oranje in third.

Buoyed by the dazzling attacking display and result against Montenegro, a side ranked 55 places below the Netherlands, Wijnaldum is already looking ahead to the Turkey match.

"Hopefully we can give Turkey, one of our director competitors, a slap," he told NOS.

"This was an important performance after our European Championship exit and the Norway game. We were disappointed with the result against Norway.

"It's difficult to explain why we started a bit slow today. They even got a few opportunities from our mistakes. That shouldn't happen and against another side it might have been 1-1 or 2-1 to them."

Depay was the star of the show with his two goals, while also leading the way by creating a game-high six big chances, albeit none of those opportunities leading to an assist.

"It's always special when I come here [to Eindhoven], and so I'm very happy to have scored twice," Depay told UEFA's official website.

"It felt like we had more creativity on the pitch than last time. It also felt like I received the ball more at the right time, so that I could be a threat or face an opponent. That was important."

Memphis Depay scored twice to help the Netherlands get their World Cup qualifying campaign back on track with an emphatic 4-0 victory over Montenegro in Saturday's Group G clash.

Louis van Gaal's first game in his third spell in charge ended in a 1-1 draw in Norway on Wednesday, but the Oranje produced a much improved display at Philips Stadion.

Depay fired the Netherlands into a deserved first-half lead from the penalty spot and doubled his tally just after the hour mark with a clinical finish.

Georginio Wijnaldum added a third and Cody Gakpo scored his first international goal as the Netherlands picked up a win that keeps them level with Norway and one point behind Group G leaders Turkey, whom they face next.

Montenegro entered the game level on points with their opponents and felt they should have had a penalty when Adam Marusic went down under pressure from Frenkie de Jong.

The Netherlands were otherwise on top and went close through a Davy Klaassen header that hit the crossbar before their breakthrough arrived seven minutes before half-time.

Dusan Lagator dragged down Depay in the box and the Barcelona forward blasted the resulting penalty towards the top-right corner, sending Matija Sarkic the wrong way.

Milutin Osmajic wasted a promising opportunity for Montenegro early in the second half and Stefan Mugosa blazed over after pouncing on a terrible Tyrell Malacia backpass.

Those misses proved costly as Depay sent a zipping low strike past Sarkic at his near post after being played in by fellow forward Gakpo.

It was a familiar story eight minutes later as Wijnaldum collected Steven Berghuis' pass and calmly converted just moments after Mugosa scuffed a shot at Justin Bijlow.

The goal of the match belonged to PSV youngster Gakpo, who curled a glorious shot out of Sarkic's reach from outside the box, capping a wonderful night on Van Gaal's latest homecoming.

Paris Saint-Germain capped a busy transfer window with the loan signing of highly rated left-back Nuno Mendes from Portuguese champions Sporting CP, with Pablo Sarabia moving in the other direction.

Mendes joins PSG on a season-long loan, while the Ligue 1 giants have the option to buy the Portugal international at the end of the season.

The 19-year-old had previously been linked with the likes of Manchester City and Liverpool, but he has made the move to PSG alongside fellow recruits Lionel Messi, Sergio Ramos, Gianluigi Donnarumma, Achraf Hakimi and Georginio Wijnaldum.

A product of Sporting's famed youth academy, Mendes played a key role as the club ended their 19-year title drought last season.

The teenager amassed a total of 47 appearances across all competitions, scoring once and tallying three assists for Sporting, who also won the Taca da Liga in 2020-21.

Last season, Mendes ranked fourth in the league in expected assists (3.44), third in duels won (186) and second in dribbles attempted (88).

Mendes made two Primeira Liga appearances this term, leaving an unbeaten Sporting side second in the standings and two points adrift of rivals Benfica through four rounds.

He joins a PSG team that standing two points clear at the top of Ligue 1 with four wins out of four and craving a first Champions League triumph.

Spain midfielder Sarabia will spend the remainder of the season on loan with Sporting.

The 29-year-old has scored 22 goals and provided 12 assists for PSG since his move from Sevilla in 2019.

Mauricio Pochettino hailed Georginio Wijnaldum as a "complete player" ahead of the Trophee des Champions clash against Lille, while also commending Achraf Hakimi's versatility.

Paris Saint-Germain disappointed last season as they finished runners-up in Ligue 1 and were beaten home and away by Manchester City in the Champions League semi-finals.

However, the French giants have had a busy transfer window, bringing in Hakimi, Wijnaldum, Sergio Ramos and Gianluigi Donnarumma as they attempt to reassert their authority.

Speaking ahead of Sunday's final, Pochettino praised the former Liverpool man, who he feels will significantly strengthen their midfield.

"We are very pleased to have him here. I think Georginio Wijnaldum can contribute going forward and also defensively", the head coach said. "He has the aggression that we need as a team."

"His experience and quality make him a player who can help in the same way, going forward and defensively. He can win the ball back [and] be aggressive, so I think he is a complete player."

Indeed, Pochettino's men missed that aggression in midfield to drive them forward and regain possession as they limped to a second-place finish in 2020-21.

Last season, PSG ranked 11th in Ligue 1 in terms of the number of possession recoveries and Pochettino has previously explained this is an area for improvement.

While PSG recorded 2,250 recoveries across the previous campaign, champions Lille were the hardest working, recovering possession 2,460 times. The signing of Wijnaldum, who ranked fourth in terms of recoveries for Liverpool in 2020-21, will likely help their cause.

 

Hakimi contributed seven goals and nine assists last season for Inter, a total bettered by only four defenders across Europe's top-five leagues.

"He offers many options to the team, especially going forwards," Pochettino said.

"He has attributes that not many others have in terms of his physical strength, quality and crossing. He is brilliant at cutting in.

"He is adapting well and we hope that he will quickly show that he is a key part of the squad."

On Thursday, Mauro Icardi suggested a win over Lille would inflict revenge, with PSG having lost the Ligue 1 title to them last year.

But Pochettino insisted that the focus was on in-house improvement and any success would serve to make amends for their underwhelming campaign, not Lille's triumph.

"This game won't be about getting revenge against Lille but against ourselves," he added. "The loss of the league title and our Champions League exit left a bitter taste.

"We will do everything to change that, we want to win every competition. We are Paris Saint-Germain, we want to win. We'll do everything to win this trophy, but it's not about revenge because Lille deserved their title."

New Paris Saint-Germain signing Georginio Wijnaldum says he "would love" for Paul Pogba to play alongside him in the French capital.

PSG have been linked with 28-year-old midfielder Pogba, who is off contract at Manchester United in 2022.

Wijnaldum, who joined PSG from Liverpool last month, added fuel to the speculation fire, labelling Pogba an "extraordinary player".

“I would love to have Pogba with us,” Wijnaldum told RMC Sport. “He’s fantastic. I have played against him several times – what a player!

“If you ask any player from another team if he would like Pogba to join him, everyone will say yes because he is an extraordinary player, full of qualities.

"He has it all, one of the best midfielders in the world.”

Pogba said earlier this month that United were yet to table a "concrete proposal" for a new deal yet the Red Devils are understood to be keen to tie him down beyond 2022.

PSG have been linked with a cut-price €58 million (£50m) swoop for ex-Juventus man Pogba.

The Parisians have already signed Wijnaldum, Gianluigi Donnarumma, Sergio Ramos and Achraf Hakimi this off-season after finishing as 2020-21 Ligue 1 runners-up.

Sergio Ramos, Achraf Hakimi, Georginio Wijnaldum and Gianluigi Donnarumma have all joined Paris Saint-Germain this transfer window - a haul of signings Mauricio Pochettino feels are befitting of the Ligue 1 giants.

Having been appointed in January to replace Thomas Tuchel, the Argentine led his side to semi-final elimination in the Champions League at the hands of Manchester City and they finished second to Lille domestically.

After bringing in numerous big names, Pochettino is preparing to bounce back in the 2021-22 season and has surrounded himself with some stars of European football.

"A club like Paris Saint-Germain deserves players of the highest level", Pochettino told the club's in-house media on Monday.

"And when you talk about players like Wijnaldum, Ramos, Hakimi or Donnarumma, these are all players who have shown their quality at other clubs and who have proven that they have the quality to play for Paris Saint-Germain."

Donnarumma, whose shoot-out heroics led Italy to their first European Championship triumph since 1968, will provide additional defensive solidarity - a characteristic synonymous with Ramos.

The former Real Madrid centre-back kept 206 clean sheets during his time with Los Blancos, while he is the only defender to score 100 goals in one of the top-five European leagues since the turn of the century.

Hakimi offers further quality at both ends for PSG. The wing-back contributed seven goals and nine assists last season for Inter, a total bettered by four defenders across Europe's top-five leagues.

 

And Pochettino appreciated the impact that experience could have on his team preparing for their next campaign.

"What we are looking for in all players that we want to see in the Paris Saint-Germain shirt is personality and a winning mentality," the former Southampton and Tottenham boss said.

"These players that we have signed have won things at different clubs, but most importantly, they haven't won anything here yet and they will do everything they can in order to do so."

Last season, PSG ranked 11th in Ligue 1 in terms of the number of times they recovered possession and Pochettino insisted this is an area that his team must improve if they are to succeed.

While PSG recorded 2,250 recoveries across the Ligue 1 campaign, champions Lille were the hardest working, recovering possession 2,460 times. The signing of Wijnaldum, who ranked fourth in terms of recoveries for Liverpool last season, may help their cause.

"The key lies in the way we recover the ball, the commitment and desire that each of the 11 players that are out on the pitch show when we don't have the ball", Pochettino added.

"That we have that aggression and collective effort in order to leave the opposition with very few options. I think that will be the key."

Georginio Wijnaldum struggled to explain the Netherlands' "off-day" against the Czech Republic as their Euro 2020 campaign ended at the last-16 stage.

Frank de Boer's side were the favourites to reach the quarter-finals after three wins from three games in the group stage, but they succumbed to a 2-0 defeat in Budapest as a red card to Matthijs de Ligt proved costly.

The Juventus man was sent off for a deliberate handball and the Czech Republic capitalised on their advantage, Tomas Holes and Patrik Schick scoring the goals to send them through.

The Netherlands failed to attempt a shot on target for the first time in a European Championship or World Cup match for the first time since at least 1980 as they struggled to replicate the attacking flair they showed previously in the tournament.

Captain Wijnaldum was an isolated figure throughout in the number 10 role, completing just 10 passes in the contest, the fewest of any Oranje outfield player in a Euros knockout match for at least the past 41 years.

Wijnaldum pointed to a good chance for Donyell Malen, which was missed barely 30 seconds before De Ligt's red card, as a key point in the contest but admitted his side deserved little for their performance.

"In the second half, we had a good chance and you have to finish that," he told NOS.

"The goals we gave away, the chances we didn't take... all that goes through your head. After the red card, we found it difficult to put them under pressure. Things just got more difficult for us.

"The whole match was tough going. Somehow we couldn't deal with the way they pressurised us. We couldn't create spaces. We fashioned a few chances in the first half, but not enough.

"Before the tournament, there was a lot of criticism around our way of playing, and we turned that around. Today was an off-day. I can hardly explain it. It's very difficult, but it's the reality."

The Czech Republic will face Denmark in the quarter-finals next Saturday.

 

The Netherlands are looking to win their opening four games of a European Championship for just the second time when they take on the Czech Republic in the last 16 of Euro 2020 on Sunday. 

Head coach Frank de Boer played every minute when they last achieved that feat in 2000, the Oranje ultimately losing on penalties to Italy in the semi-finals. 

The Netherlands, who will be without Luuk de Jong after he was ruled out of the tournament with a knee injury, do not have a successful record in the knockout stages of this competition, progressing from just two of their seven standalone games since they won the tournament in 1988. They beat Yugoslavia 6-1 in the 2000 quarter-final and overcame Sweden on penalties at the same stage in 2004. 

Standing in their way of a quarter-final clash against either Wales or Denmark is a Czech Republic side who have a miserable record of their own when it comes to European Championship knockout games. 

Jaroslav Silhavy's side have been eliminated in three of their last four games in the knockout stages of the tournament – versus Germany in the final in 1996, Greece in the semi-final in 2004, and most recently, Portugal in the quarter-final of Euro 2012.

They will be without left-back Jan Boril after he picked up a second yellow card of the tournament in the final group game against England, with Ales Mateju in line to deputise.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Netherlands – Georginio Wijnaldum

Wijnaldum made a reasonably slow start in finding the back of the net at international level, scoring 10 goals in his first 53 appearances for the Oranje. He has accelerated in recent years, though, with no player scoring more for the Netherlands than his 15 in 25 games since the start of 2019. 

The new Paris Saint-Germain midfielder scored three goals in the group stage, including a brace in the 3-0 win over North Macedonia. The Czech Republic have been warned.

Czech Republic – Patrik Schick

Schick lit up Euro 2020 with his stunning long-range strike against Scotland in his side's opening game in Group D. 

The Bayer Leverkusen forward was responsible for six of his side's nine shots on target in the group stage – the highest percentage of any player for his team in the tournament (67 per cent).

 

KEY OPTA FACTS

- This will be the first meeting between the Netherlands and the Czech Republic since October 2015, when the Dutch were beaten 3-2 in a Euro 2016 qualifier. Indeed, they have lost each of their last two games against the Czech Republic – both coming in qualifying for the previous European Championship in 2016.
- The Czech Republic and the Netherlands will face each other at the European Championship for the third time (excl. Czechoslovakia meetings), with both sides winning one game apiece previously. Their last meeting in the competition was a thriller at Euro 2004, in which the Czechs came from two goals down to win 3-2, following an 88th minute winner from Vladimir Smicer.
- The Netherlands completed more high turnovers (open play sequences that start within 40 metres of the opponent’s goal line) than any other side in the Euro 2020 group stages (44), while only Spain (60) forced more pressed sequences (sequences where the opposition has three or fewer passes and the sequence ends within 40m of their own goal) than the Dutch (58).
- Memphis Depay has been directly involved in 13 goals in his last 10 appearances for Netherlands in all competitions (nine goals, four assists), while only Robert Lewandowski (12) attempted more shots than Depay (11) in the group stage at Euro 2020.

With the group stage of Euro 2020 now over, we can get down to the important business: arguing over who have been the best players until now.

The first three matchdays produced some enthralling spectacles, a handful of shocks and one or two rather forgettable encounters of which there is no need to speak any more.

We have seen some rather obvious star turns, such as a certain Portugal striker equalling the record for international goals in men's football, while other standout performers have flown a little more under the radar.

Here, using Opta data for added insight, Stats Perform presents the Euro 2020 team of the group stage. Please do read on for a few explanations before starting on those angry comments...

 

 

GK: DANNY WARD

Wales battled their way into the knockout rounds after finishing second in Group A, ahead of Switzerland on goal difference. Much of that is down to Danny Ward's form.

The Leicester City man saved 86.7 of the shots on target he faced, the best record among keepers to make at least five saves.

 

LCB: DALEY BLIND

The Netherlands surprised a few people with three convincing wins in Group C, with Daley Blind's calm yet authoritative presence at the heart of their performances.

Blind completed 221 passes in the group stage, more than any other Oranje player, with more than half of those (115) coming in opposition territory.

 

CB: ANDREAS CHRISTENSEN

Quite rightly celebrated for that thunderbolt of a goal in Denmark's key victory over Russia, Andreas Christensen's all-round displays make him worthy of inclusion here.

The Chelsea defender won 79.2 of his duels in the first three rounds, a tally bettered only by Oleksandr Karavaev (80 per cent) and Thomas Vermaelen (90 per cent) among those to contest at least 10.

 

RCB: LEONARDO BONUCCI

Italy's 1.3 expected goals against was the lowest figure of any side in the group phase, underlining the imperious nature of their form not just at these finals but in the whole of their 11-game winning run in which they have not let in a single goal.

Leonardo Bonucci has been the rock at the back, particularly with Giorgio Chiellini battling injury. He has won possession 11 times, the most of any Azzurri defender, and has yet to be beaten by a dribble.

 

LWB: JORDI ALBA

Jordi Alba was Spain's standout performer until the rest of the team somewhat caught up on matchday three as they turned on the style to thrash Slovakia 5-0.

The Barcelona left-back completed 247 passes, the most of any defender after Aymeric Laporte (259), while leading the way for possession won (30 times).

 

CM: GEORGINIO WIJNALDUM

With three goals in three games, Georginio Wijnaldum surpassed the great Marco van Basten on the all-time Netherlands scoring charts to reach 25 for his country.

Enjoying a more advanced role at these finals, Paris Saint-Germain fans are being given a glimpse of what the midfielder could provide for them next season.

 

CM: PIERRE-EMILE HOJBJERG

Alongside Kevin De Bruyne, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg is one of only two midfielders to create nine goalscoring chances during the group stage.

The Tottenham man set up two Denmark's goals in the 4-1 hammering of Russia to move to three assists at these finals, a tally matched only by Switzerland's Steven Zuber.

 

CM: MANUEL LOCATELLI

His two goals against Switzerland were the highlight of his group-stage displays and made Manuel Locatelli just the third Italy player to score twice in a single European Championship match.

The Sassuolo star was rested against Wales, but the quality of his performances in the first two games prompted rumours that Juventus have redoubled their efforts to sign him.

 

RWB: DENZEL DUMFRIES

Full-back Denzel Dumfries became an unlikely goalscoring hero for Frank de Boer, becoming just the second Netherlands player to score in his first two European Championship games (the first was Ruud van Nistelrooy).

Denmark wing-back Joakim Maehle was the only nominal defender with more touches in the opposition box (20) during the group stage than Dumfries (17).

 

CF: ROMELU LUKAKU

Continuing his spectacular Inter form at these finals, Romelu Lukaku scored three times in Belgium's group games from a total of just four shots on target.

He would probably be the favourite for the Golden Boot were it not for the form of the only man to outscore him in Serie A last season...

 

CF: CRISTIANO RONALDO

With five goals in three games, Cristiano Ronaldo became the leading goalscorer at the World Cup and European Championship combined (21).

The Portugal captain needs just one more to surpass Ali Daei as the top-scoring international men's footballer of all time.

We had to wait an extra year, but the Euro 2020 group stage threw up drama and records – and in terms of goals it delivered magnificently.

With the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Romelu Lukaku hitting their stride, it was a feast for the strikers, with 94 goals scored across the 36 games.

That represented a massive raising of the bar after only 69 goals were netted at the same stage in the 2016 tournament.

Here, Stats Perform looks at the most eye-catching numbers that defined the first 13 days of this delayed tournament – ahead of the do-or-die knockout stage getting under way.

 

Ronaldo making up for lost time

Cristiano Ronaldo became the first player to score as many as five goals in the group stages of a single European Championship since Michel Platini bagged seven for France in 1984, on his way to a nine-goal tournament tally. Three of Ronaldo's goals for Portugal at this tournament have been penalties, while Platini netted just one spot-kick during France's run 37 years ago.

Impressively, Platini's goals in 1984 came from an expected goals (xG) rate of just 3.32, while Ronaldo has recorded his five from a total of 4.71 so far. Opta builds its expected goals data by measuring the quality of an attempt based on variables such as assist type, shot angle and distance from goal, whether it was a headed shot and whether it was defined as a big chance. It means Ronaldo has put away approximately the number of goals he should have expected to score.

Ronaldo scored twice from the penalty spot in Wednesday's 2-2 draw with France, the first game in the history of the Euros to see three spot-kicks scored, excluding shoot-outs.

Defending champions Portugal have been far from perfect, however, dropping a competition-high five points from winning positions.

While Ronaldo has the most goals of any player so far in these finals, he has not been able to keep up with the rising tide of own goals. There have been a staggering eight, as many as were scored between the 1980 and 2016 editions combined.

 

Firing range

Why wait until seeing the whites of the goalkeeper's eyes before offloading a shot?

Patrik Schick had one quick glance towards David Marshall's goal and let fly from 49.7 yards at Hampden Park to put the Czech Republic 2-0 in front against Scotland. That incredible moment gave Schick the longest-range strike on record at the European Championship, with such measured distances available from the 1980 tournament onwards.

There were 304 shots from outside the penalty area in the group stage, but only 12 goals scored from such long range. That ratio of one goal for every 25.3 shots from long distance was nevertheless an improvement on the Euro 2016 numbers, when just 16 goals from outside the area were scored from 638 attempts across the whole tournament – one every 39.9 shots.

 

Low Countries, tall targets

Belgium and the Netherlands are nations who have experienced mixed fortunes on the football field in the 21st century, but both will feel a big moment could be arriving.

The Belgian Red Devils were absent from all major tournaments between their appearances at the 2002 and 2014 World Cups, while the Dutch were conspicuous by their absence from Euro 2016 and the 2018 World Cup.

Lukaku, with three goals so far, has been a terrific spearhead of the Belgium side, netting 50 per cent of the goals their players have netted (excluding own goals) at Euro 2020 despite only taking 22 per cent of their shots – seven of 32 attempts.

If Lukaku keeps firing, with Kevin De Bruyne and co prompting from midfield, then Belgium, who have never won a World Cup or European Championship, have a strong chance to show why they are ranked by FIFA as the world's number one team.

Belgium exceeded their collective xG tally by 3.15 – scoring seven against xG of 3.85 – the highest number by which any side surpassed their expected goals in their opening three games.

Their neighbours, the Netherlands, have also caught the eye. Ronald Koeman lifted the Oranje from their doldrums and successor Ronald de Boer has guided the team through the group stage as top scorers and with a 100 per cent record.

That Group C success, with eight goals scored and two conceded, came on the back of Georginio Wijnaldum scoring three times. In doing so, he has overtaken Marco van Basten and Dirk Kuyt on the list of the Netherlands' leading international goalscorers, moving to 25, one ahead of the former Milan and Liverpool forwards.

Or, to put it another way, Wijnaldum is halfway to matching Robin van Persie's record haul of 50 international goals.

 

Boring, boring England?

England, by netting only twice, became the lowest-scoring side to ever finish top of a group at a European Championship. They did not so much storm through Group D as plod a methodical path through to the last-16 stage, although an xG of 4.45 suggests England have at least been creating chances, albeit not finishing as well as they might.

Yet England might yet go far. Germany visit Wembley next Tuesday and will encounter English players who have only been dribbled past 12 times in the group stage, the lowest number among all competing teams. England's expected goals against (xGA) tally is a miserly 1.33, the second lowest in the tournament behind an Italy side (1.3) who have got it right at both ends of the pitch to.

Turkey's players were dribbled past on 36 occasions, a group-stage high, and only North Macedonia (8.85) had a higher xGA than Senol Gunes' team (7.69), who failed to live up to 'dark horse' expectations.

 

Riding their luck? Or being all out of it?

Wales conceded just twice, defying an xGA total of 5.47, and reached the knockout stage on the back of that. The gap of 3.47 between expectation and reality with that metric was the highest among all competing teams.

Conversely, Scotland scored just once against an xG of 4.00 – with 3.00 the highest negative difference between xG and goals scored.

Russia bowed out, and could hardly blame anyone but themselves. Their players made three errors leading to goals – more than any other side and the joint-most by any nation at a finals going back to 1980, the point from which records are available.

Hungary also exited the tournament. They predictably finished last in the 'group of death' – adrift of France, Germany and Portugal – but Hungary were surprisingly ahead for more minutes and trailed for fewer than any other team in that Group F campaign.

Denmark squeezed through in second place behind Belgium in Group B, becoming the first team in European Championship history to reach the knockout stages of the competition having lost their first two group stage games. After the alarm of the Christian Eriksen situation, many would love them to go further.

Would you Luka that!

Luka Modric became the oldest player to score for Croatia at the Euros, netting a gorgeous strike in the 3-1 win against Scotland at the age of 35 years and 286 days. That made it an unusual double for the veteran playmaker, who also holds the record for being Croatia's youngest scorer at the tournament (22 years 73 days versus Austria in 2008).

Modric continues to marvel, and there was a slice of history for another midfielder in the group stage as Switzerland's Steven Zuber became only the third player since 1980 to register three assists in a single European Championship game – doing so against Turkey – after Portugal's Rui Costa in his rampaging 2000 display that tormented England and Denmark's Michael Laudrup in 1984 against Yugoslavia.

Georginio Wijnaldum will wear a rainbow-coloured armband when he captains the Netherlands against the Czech Republic in Budapest on Sunday and has declared that he and his team-mates could leave the field if they are subjected to any form of abuse.

Hungary has faced criticism over its treatment of LGBTQ people after passing a law that prohibits the sharing of content in schools that could be deemed to promote homosexuality and gender change.

Football's attempts to show support have also created controversy, with UEFA launching an investigation into Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer's use of a rainbow armband - a nod to the flag of the LGBTQ community - before acknowledging the motif as "a team symbol for diversity".

However, the governing body did not allow Munich's Allianz Arena to be lit up in those colours for Germany's final Group F game against Hungary on Wednesday, ostensibly due to its rules regarding political neutrality.

But that has not discouraged Wijnaldum from plans to wear an armband featuring the words "One Love" for the first time in the tournament when the Dutch head to the Hungarian capital.

"It is not just against Hungary," he said. "The armband means a lot because we stand for diversity – one love means everybody is a part of it and everybody should be free to be who they are.

"In our opinion [the right to be yourself] has been encroached upon. As players we have a podium to do whatever we can to help."

UEFA launched an investigation into allegations that France star Kylian Mbappe and Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo faced racist and homophobic abuse during their appearances in Budapest.

And Wijnaldum has warned that he will be ready to take his team off the pitch should any such incidents occur during Sunday's last-16 clash.

"UEFA should be there to protect the players and make the decision," he said. "It should not be left to the players. Players often get punished for protecting themselves so UEFA needs to take a lead role in this.

"I have said I don’t really know how I will react in such a situation. I thought first that I would walk off the pitch but maybe not now because maybe the opponent will think: ‘Let them [in the crowd] throw racist slurs and they will walk off the pitch'.

"It could be the case that I will walk off the pitch but I will speak with the players about it first."

Denmark lit up Euro 2020 on Monday as they thumped Russia 4-1 to finish second in Group B and progress to the last 16.

Belgium ran out winners in that group after a 2-0 win over Finland, with Markku Kanerva's side finishing third by virtue of an inferior goal difference to Denmark.

In Group C, the Netherlands sealed top spot with a 3-0 victory against rock-bottom North Macedonia, with Austria joining them in the knockout stages after overcoming Ukraine, who finished third. 

Using Opta data, Stats Perform takes a look at some of the best facts from Monday's games.

Russia 1-4 Denmark: Hjulmand's side progress in spectacular fashion

Denmark produced one of the standout displays of the tournament so far to set up a last-16 clash with Wales in Amsterdam on Saturday. 

The sensational win meant Denmark became the first team in European Championship history to reach the knockout stages of the competition having lost their first two group-stage games.

It also marked the first time Denmark had scored four goals in a major tournament game since a 4-1 victory over Nigeria at the 1998 World Cup.

Mikkel Damsgaard put Denmark ahead shortly before the interval to become his country's youngest ever goalscorer at a major tournament, with the forward also the first player born in the 2000s to score in the European Championship. 

Yussuf Poulsen added a second, the RB Leipzig man netting in consecutive games for Denmark for only the second time, also doing so in June 2018 against Mexico in a friendly and Peru at the World Cup.

Artem Dzyuba then scored his 30th international goal to move level with Aleksandr Kerzhakov as the all-time joint top-scorer for Russia – since the dissolution of the Soviet Union (USSR), but Andreas Christensen and Joakim Maehle wrapped up a memorable win for Kasper Hjulmand's side.

Finland 0-2 Belgium: Martinez's Red Devils march on in style

This latest victory means Belgium have won all three group games at back-to-back major tournaments, while it is the first time they have won all of their group fixtures at a single European Championship tournament.

Belgium went ahead in the 74th minute when Thomas Vermaelen's header from a corner bounced up onto the post and went in off the unfortunate Lukas Hradecky's hand.

Hradecky became just the second goalkeeper in European Championship history to score an own goal after Wojciech Szczesny for Poland against Slovakia earlier in the tournament.

Belgium's Romelu Lukaku then netted his third goal of the tournament seven minutes later.

Since making his major international tournament debut for Belgium in 2014, the Inter forward has scored 10 goals in such competitions – only Portugal superstar Cristiano Ronaldo and France's Antoine Griezmann have scored more major tournament goals for a European nation during this period (11 each).

Belgium's Jeremy Doku (19 years and 25 days), meanwhile, became the second youngest player to appear for the nation at a European Championship tournament after Enzo Scifo (18 years and 115 days).

North Macedonia 0-3 Netherlands: Oranje make history in third consecutive win

Memphis Depay and Georginio Wijnaldum starred as the Netherlands won all three of their group-stage games at the European Championship for the third time (also 2000 and 2008) – more than any other side in the competition.

Their latest win meant the Oranje have scored two goals in 10 successive games for the first time ever, while they now have 65 goals at the European Championship finals, leapfrogging France into second place to sit behind only Germany (76) in the competition's history. 

Barcelona-bound Depay got the Netherlands on their way with his 50th goal involvement in 67 appearances for the national team (28 goals and 22 assists). He has now been involved in 13 goals in his last 10 games for the Oranje in all competitions (nine goals and four assists).

In his 78th appearance for the Netherlands, Paris Saint-Germain recruit Wijnaldum scored his 24th and 25th goals. Fifteen of these strikes have been in his 25 games since the start of 2019, with no player scoring more for the Dutch during this time.

North Macedonia, meanwhile, are just the fourth team to lose 100 per cent of their matches at their first appearance in the European Championships, after Turkey in 1996, Denmark in 1964 and France in 1960.

Ukraine 0-1 Austria: Baumgartner seals last-16 spot

This win meant Austria progressed to the knockout stages of a European Championship for the first time in their history. 

They were in dominant mood against their meek opponents, taking 18 shots – a tally they have only bettered twice before in a European Championship game (23 against Iceland in 2016 and 20 against Croatia in 2008).

Austria only found the back of the net once, though, Christoph Baumgartner becoming the youngest player ever to score for the nation at the European Championship, aged 21 years and 324 days.

He was teed up by Real Madrid's David Alaba, who registered his third assist in six appearances for Austria in the competition – two more than any other Austrian. 

Ukraine, meanwhile, have failed to keep a clean sheet in any of their nine games at the European Championship – the most matches played in the competition by a team without having their defence breached.

Georginio Wijnaldum explained he joined Paris Saint-Germain as they were "faster and more decisive" after talks with Barcelona stalled.

Wijnaldum's Liverpool contract expires at the end of the month and his next move to PSG has been confirmed.

But the Netherlands captain, who led his team with eight goals in Euro 2020 qualifying, was expected to link up with former Oranje coach Ronald Koeman at Barca.

Following weeks of speculation, though, there was no deal, allowing PSG to make their move.

Wijnaldum said on Saturday: "I negotiated with Barcelona for four weeks and unfortunately we didn't [agree].

"Paris Saint-Germain were faster and more decisive. And the project they have there appeals to me very much.

"It was a tough choice. I have to say that I too thought I would go to Barcelona, also because Barcelona was the only club that was really interested at the time.

"But we couldn't [agree] and with PSG we did."

Wijnaldum is moving on after playing 235 times for Liverpool in five years, scoring 22 goals and assisting 15, but his focus is now on the Euros.

Facing Ukraine first up on Sunday, the Netherlands are aiming to win a finals match at the competition for the first time since 2008.

"I'm very happy to have been able to arrange it before the European Championship," Wijnaldum said of his move.

"With the European Championship, you just want to be 100 per cent focused on the tournament. It was a hectic week, though, where I had to make choices.

"But I'm glad that this doesn't play during the European Championship anymore."

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