6 players who shone brightest in Group D at Euro 2024

6 players who shone brightest in Group D at Euro 2024
6 players who shone brightest in Group D at Euro 2024

When the groups were drawn for Euro 2024, not many predicted that Austria would top Group D ahead of France and the Netherlands.

After an exceptional and dramatic final matchday in a fiercely contested group, Ralf Rangnick's side lived up to their tag as dark horses with victories against the Dutch and Poland. While France and the Netherlands did make it to the knockout stages, they have remarkably had to settle for second and third respectively, having struggled to get out of second gear.

While not all matches in Group D were belters, there were plenty of magical moments from some sensational stars. Well, except for Poland, who were pretty awful as expected.

Here are the six players who shone brightest in Group D.

Nicolas Seiwald (Austria)

Austria were the surprise package of Group D. Their intensity and energy proved difficult for their opposition, with Rangnick's high-octane approach certainly making them the most enjoyable side to watch at Euro 2024 so far. One reason for their exceptional displays was Nicolas Seiwald.

The RB Leipzig man anchored Austria in midfield and hardly put a foot wrong over three impressive displays. He set the tone in the engine room and covered every blade of grass, but also managed to create six chances in Group D - the most among his teammates.

Having played every minute of every game, he has proven indispensable in an industrious midfield, partnering Florian Grillitsch effectively at the base of midfield in a 4-2-3-1.

Cody Gakpo (Netherlands)

Cody Gakpo has certainly taken his end-of-season form with Liverpool into Euro 2024. He managed two goals and an assist in his final three Premier League games for the Reds and continued his fine goalscoring form in Group D, netting against Poland and Austria.

With two similar strikes after cutting in from the left-hand side, Gakpo has certainly shown new Liverpool boss Arne Slot that his best position is on the flank. He has been brave in possession, constantly taking on his full-back, and leads the way for chances created (eight) and big chances created (two) for the Oranje.

He deservedly earned himself the Player of the Match award for a magnificent display against Poland and has been the Netherlands' deadliest threat.

Mike Maignan (France)

With France having underwhelmed at Euro 2024 to date and scoring just twice - an own goal and a penalty - their defence has stood tallest. William Saliba has been impressive, as has Jules Kounde at right-back, but Mike Maignan has been surprisingly busy in Group D.

The Milan stopper produced some strong saves in clean sheets against Austria and the Netherlands, with his commanding presence inside his own penalty area proving significant. He has averaged three saves per match so far, saving 90% of the shots on target that France have conceded.

Maignan also saved a penalty against Poland, although the goalkeeper was slightly off his line when Robert Lewandowski's spot kick was taken. Unfortunately for France, he couldn't quite deny the Barcelona forward when the kick was retaken.

Marcel Sabitzer (Austria)

Having suffered heartbreak in the Champions League final with Borussia Dortmund at the end of the 2023/24 season, Marcel Sabitzer has bounced back with a bang. In a relentless Austria side, his energy alongside fellow Bundesliga stars Seiwald and Konrad Laimer in central areas has been key.

Asked to play in a more advanced position by Rangnick, often drifting into wider areas, Sabitzer has been a box-to-box threat. He has averaged more shots than any of his teammates, finding the back of the net with a wonderful late strike against the Netherlands that won Group D for Austria.

Like he has done for much of the season with Dortmund, Sabitzer has been effortlessly impressive in Germany.

N'Golo Kante (France)

N'Golo Kante's inclusion in France's Euro 2024 squad did raise a few eyebrows. Now plying his trade in the Saudi Pro League, the former Leicester and Chelsea midfielder is 33 years of age and no longer testing himself against Europe's elite. Could the Frenchman still perform at the highest level?

Well, Kante provided an emphatic response to any doubters. Player of the Match in the 1-0 win over Austria with a vintage Kante display, the Al Ittihad man collected the accolade in France's second tournament game against the Netherlands too. It was another unabating display from the indefatigable midfielder.

Bar Kylian Mbappe, Kante may now just be the first name on Didier Deschamps' team sheet.

Christoph Baumgartner (Austria)

With France and the Netherlands having failed to convince in Group D, Austria have produced the standout performances. One of those that shone among Rangnick's cohort was Christoph Baumgartner.

Another one of Austria's Bundesliga boys, Baumgartner was particularly effective in his side's 3-1 win over Poland. The RB Leipzig midfielder netted a beautiful effort to complete the scoring in that clash, while adding an assist to his tally for Sabitzer's winner against the Dutch with a neat pass beyond the backline.

Playing just behind a central striker, his pace and directness has caused opposition defenders all manner of problems.