The Athletic FC: Meet ‘Kvaradona’ in our 50 Euros stars to watch; USMNT apologise after rout

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Coming up:

⭐ Introducing The Athletic’s Euro 2024 player vault

😬 A defensive disaster class from USMNT

💬 Manchester United talk to Thomas Tuchel

🙅‍♂️ The Premier League’s out-of-contract ranks

On Our Radar: 50 players to watch at Euro 2024

0609 Radar scaled

Pictures: Getty Images; design – Eamonn Dalton

The starting gun at The Athletic for every major international tournament is the release of our Radar scouting file. It’s live today in anticipation of Euro 2024, and it’s as vast and informative as ever.

If you’re new to it, the Radar is a detailed breakdown of 50 players, all specially profiled by The Athletic’s squad of analysts. We’ve done our best to read the tea leaves: who we think will influence Euro 2024 most, who looks destined for a breakout tournament, and who might land a plum transfer at the end of it.

Needless to say, we’ll be back with a separate rundown for the Copa America as kick-off draws closer in the U.S.

The Radar goes right to the top, studying your Kylian Mbappes, Jude Bellinghams et al, but where it comes into its own (in my humble eyes) is in flagging up the more intriguing stars to look out for. To give you a flavour, I picked out a few:

Jeremy Doku (Belgium, aged 22): He slipped into Manchester City as effortlessly as a torpedo into water and you’ve got to laugh at this graphic (below): Doku on his own planet in racking up attempted take-ons and carries into opposition boxes per 90 minutes. What a machine.

doku take ons box entries 1

Florian Wirtz (Germany, 21): There’s a tradition of footballers attracting club offers on the back of international competitions (see Karel Poborsky to Manchester United in 1996). Wirtz isn’t likely to move this summer because he’s giving Bayer Leverkusen another year but if he flourishes at the Euros, the stampede won’t be far off.

florian wirtz chances created 1

Khvicha Kvaratskhelia (Georgia, 23): The hipster’s choice and 100 per cent in the category of quality players who could easily have failed to make it to a major finals (like Erling Haaland, presently). Georgia reached the Euros, though, and while they won’t go far in Germany, Napoli’s winger (Che Kvara to his friends) has the stage he deserves.

khvicha kvaratskhelia sca 1

News Round-Up 🗞️

Berhalter’s team left to apologise for Colombia rout

You have to go back to 2009 for the last time the USMNT conceded five goals in one game. Or you did before Saturday.

It’s nice for a coach to know his house is in order just before an event as prestigious as the Copa America. Poor Gregg Berhalter must feel like phoning the fire brigade.

The USMNT’s defending in a 5-1 friendly defeat to Colombia was unspeakably awful. Goalkeeper Matt Turner apologised afterwards. Berhalter described it as “a wake-up call”. The Athletic’s Paul Tenorio, sounds legitimately shocked.

We chose to GIF Colombia’s fifth goal but, to be brutally honest, any of the concessions would have summed up the shambles Berhalter witnessed at the back. The USMNT can play so much better — but defend like they did against Colombia, and the hotdogs at the Copa will last longer than them.


‘Like A Raging Bull’: Remembering Rooney’s genius in 2004

“His movement, his speed… he was not human.”

That’s Dario Simic, the former Croatia right-back, remembering Wayne Rooney smashing into Euro 2004 like a raging bull (or bull calf, given he was only 18).

Rooney roughing up Zinedine Zidane and Europe’s glitterati highlighted one of the best things about competitions like the Euros: footballers announcing themselves to the world with a swagger.

Present-day England could do with a touch of that genius after their 1-0 defeat to Iceland on Friday.

If you’re looking for a breakthrough act at this summer’s Copa, look no further than soon-to-be Real Madrid forward Endrick.

He wore No 9 for Brazil over the weekend, he scored for the third game running (a tidy 96th-minute winner against Mexico) and you can tell he’s got it. Stay tuned.

Man Utd fail in Tuchel talks

  • The wait goes on to find out what Manchester United intend to do with manager Erik ten Hag. They’ve spoken to Thomas Tuchel, without success. As planning goes, it smacks of incoherence.
  • As happens each summer, a host of Premier League players are about to reach the end of their contracts. Tosin Adarabioyo is a cracking freebie for Chelsea. And Everton must be thrilled to be shedding Andre Gomes’ £100,000-a-week wage.
  • Football clubs are under orders to release players for the Euros and the Copa America, but they’re under no obligation to do the same for the 2024 Olympic Games — which can cause a bit of club-versus-country friction.

Quiz Answer

Friday’s quiz question challenged you to name the missing club from this list: 1986, Everton; 1988, Everton; 1990, ????; 1992, Nottingham Forest

The answer? Rangers, as the club who provided the most players for England at that year’s major tournament. Gary Stevens, Terry Butcher, Chris Woods and Trevor Steven all went to the 1990 World Cup.

Catch A Match

International friendlies: Poland vs Turkey, 2.45pm ET/7.45pm UK — Fubo/Premier Sports 2; Netherlands vs Iceland, 2.45pm ET/7.45pm UK — Fubo/Premier Sports 1.

(Top picture: Image Photo Agency/Getty Images)

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