Three Best Player of the Tournament contenders after the group stage

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The group stages of the Euros have drawn to a close in a dramatic fashion, with a 3-3 goal fest between Portugal and Hungary, tiny Iceland getting through with a 2-1 victory over Austria, and the Republic of Ireland also making their way through after beating a much changed Italy, 1-0.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic bowed out of the international stage, Cristiano Ronaldo returned to goal scoring form, the last day seemed to have all the tragedy and joy of a classic piece of theatre.

Every play has a protagonist, and in this case, who that will be could decide the winner of player of the tournament. There are plenty of players in the running, and here's a look at the likely contenders.


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Gareth Bale is a sensation for Real Madrid, a sensation for Wales, and now, a sensation for Euros fans. Three goals in three games is plainly a perfect record, making him the current top scorer, which if he retains the title, will tip the odds of claiming player of the tournament in his favour.

The Welshman has lightning pace, a thunderous left foot, which he can use to hammer home from range, or for the deftest of finishes. Although dodgy goalkeeping has played a part, Bale has shown his set pieces are a danger to any team, with two of his goals coming from dead ball situations.

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Bale also has the unique position of having a team built around him, to cater for his skills. Much like Ibrahimovic for Sweden, Bale is a standout superstar among hard working individuals with less quality.

Unlike Zlatan and Sweden though, Bale's support team has the likes of Aaron Ramsey and Joe Allen, pulling the strings in midfield, meaning Bale can play his game, making pacey runs in behind or into the box, and expect the kind of defence-breaking balls so often played by Toni Kroos and Luka Modric at Real Madrid.

The biggest potential stumbling block for Bale picking up the award could be Wales' ability to continue in the competition. They have a great team spirit and work ethic, but despite this, teams like Belgium and Croatia will fancy their chances with their star studded line ups. Drawing Northern Ireland gives them a good opportunity to make the most of this Euros, but after that, the Dragons' dreams may be crushed.

England v Wales - Group B: UEFA Euro 2016

Whilst watching the first game of the Euros, highly anticipating the weeks of football ahead, one man stood out above the rest as France faced off against Romania - Dimitri Payet. What a player he is. In that game, when his compatriots lacked the expected quality and desire, Payet controlled the game.

Every positive piece of play was the result of him finding a lovely pocket of space, or using his masterful control of the ball to drift past players. Sometimes it was something as simple as a great cross but he stood out all the same and looked like a man playing amongst boys.

Payet is another set piece specialist, and another man in goal scoring form, with two brilliant goals in three games. With France many bookies' favourites to win the competition, it looks like the way is paved for the Frenchman to make the player of the tournament his to lose.

The only obstacle surprisingly, would be France's quality. Player for player, France have one of the best squads at the competition, with the likes of Paul Pogba, Antoine Griezmann, and other world class players.


These players didn't really show up in the group stages, but as the tournament goes on, you can expect the big players to pull out big performances, possibly taking the spotlight away from Payet.

Wayne Rooney for player of the tournament - it is obviously a stretch. Before the squads were released, some would have laughed in your face at the proposition, as media were heavily scrutinising Rooney's importance to the squad.

Oh, how times change. Given the man of the match from the BBC for the first two games, and brought on on the third - much to the delight of the fans chanting his name until his substitution - Rooney has changed from leading England's line, to creator supreme.

Slovakia v England - Group B: UEFA Euro 2016

Countless switches straight to the feet of Kyle Walker have been the crux of England's attacks, and it looks like the Manchester United man has found his signature bullish strength and mixed it with Paul Scholes passing.

This is a pretty outside bet, as Rooney hasn't scored yet, or even registered an assist, but if England get within touching distance of the final, much of the praise will be directed towards the Three Lions' captain.

If he can chip in with a goal or two, and England finish well, he may not be the first name that comes to mind but no-one could argue it would be undeserved.

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Wayne Rooney
Gareth Bale
Euro 2016
England Football
Dimitri Payet

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