Euro 2016: Cristiano Ronaldo, Thomas Muller Among Top 5 to Watch Out For

Updated: 08 June 2016 15:59 IST

Having shone for their clubs, it's is time for the Ronaldos and Mullers to make their country proud as Euro 2016 kicks off in France.

Euro 2016: Cristiano Ronaldo, Thomas Muller Among Top 5 to Watch Out For
Cristiano Ronaldo will once again be the key for Portugal in Euro 2016. © AFP

Individual talent has impacted the UEFA Euros in the past. Marco van Basten in 1988, Peter Schmeichel in 1992 and Xavi in 2008 are examples of standout campaigns from star men who have inspired their teams to achieve glory.

This time round, there are a number of world-class footballers looking to have their name up in lights -- for some, a final shot at glory, while a chance to secure a summer move for others.  NDTV.com takes a look at the top five players to watch out for in Euro 2016 in France.

1.    Cristiano Ronaldo

While his footballing genius may have come to define this generation, alongside the exploits of Lionel Messi, both all-time greats have failed to secure major silverware at the international level.

Portugal's captain and leading goal scorer, Ronaldo netted 51 goals in 48 appearances for Real Madrid last season, before scoring the winning spot kick to seal the Undecima for Los Blancos.

Memories of a heartbreaking loss to Greece in the Euro 2004 final at Lisbon and a semi-final loss on penalties to Spain at Euro 2012 loom large over his international career. However, Ronaldo performed throughout those campaigns -- making it to the team of the tournament on both occasions.

Possessing the capability to win a game on his own, Euro 2016 may well be the 31-year old's chance to redefine his Portugal legacy.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic Sweden 0806
Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored 50 goals for Paris Saint Germain in the French Ligue 1 recently.

© AFP

2.    Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Few men in football are great goalscorers. Fewer are scorers of great goals. Only one, however, is Zlatan. Scorer of arguably the best goal at both, Euro 2004 and Euro 2012, Ibrahimovic is a footballing behemoth and serial winner at the club level. Despite being 34-years old, the Sweden captain had his best ever campaign, scoring 50 goals for Paris Saint-Germain and 11 for Sweden in the Euro qualifiers.

With most footballers in terminal decline and looking for a final payday at his age, Ibrahimovic continues to defy the normal, as he looks set to become Jose Mourinho's blockbuster signing at Manchester United.

Having created some defining moments at the Euros, and international retirement looking imminent, Ibrahimovic could truly set the world alight on his Sweden swansong.


Gareth Bale Wales 0806
Gareth Bale has won two Champions League trophies and he will be Wales' talisman at Euro 2016.

© AFP

3.    Gareth Bale

Scoring seven goals and assisting two in a historic Euro qualifying campaign, Gareth Bale played like a man possessed -- sealing participation for Wales, their first major tournament in 58 years. After a dream start to his Real Madrid career, Bale endured a difficult spell, before clawing his way back. His fighting attitude was epitomized at the Champions League final.

Bale, suffering a severe cramp, limped his way to the penalty spot, before slotting past the goalkeeper to keep Real Madrid's Undecima dream alive. His two Champions League wins in three seasons are testament to his undoubted quality. Searing pace, strength and now, the chance to make history have cemented Bale as one of the tournament's true dangermen.


Paul Pogba Juventus 0806
France will be hoping that Paul Pogba repeats his Juventus heroics.

© AFP

4.    Paul Pogba

A lot can happen between two editions of the Euro. In 2012, as Europe's elite gathered at Poland and Ukraine, Paul Pogba was a largely unknown quantity in world football. He had undoubted potential but his fringe-player status at Manchester United defined his identity. With his future at United far from certain, Pogba made headlines solely due to his reported transfer to Juventus.

That was then. Today, Pogba is up there with the very best. Having established himself as the star man at both club and country, his frightening ability has many labeling him a future Ballon D'or winner.

With hosts France touted as favorites to win the Euros, a lot is expected from the young midfielder, who is the latest to dawn the famous No. 10 at Juventus. With rumours of an 80 million pound price tag, Pogba is being eyed by top clubs over the summer, with the Euros his chance to prove his worth.

Thomas Muller Germany 0806
Thomas Muller scored 10 goals for Germany during their victorious campaign in the 2014 World Cup.

© AFP

5.    Thomas Muller

Described as an ugly footballer by some, and 'unorthodox' by his coach, the term perhaps most befitting the German forward is prolific. Having burst onto the scene at the 2010 World Cup, scoring five goals in six appearances, Muller took his tally to 10 World Cup goals in 2014, as Germany were crowned world champions.

On the back of his best ever season; Muller scored 32 goals for Bayern Munich and a further nine goals in Germany's Euro qualification campaign. Having played second fiddle to Mario Gomez at Euro 2012, and to Robert Lewandowski at club level, the stage is set for Muller to take the role of star forward and win it for Die Mannschaft -- a feat that would place him alongside the all-time German greats.

Topics : Cristiano Ronaldo Dos Santos Aveiro Zlatan Ibrahimovic Gareth Bale Paul Pogba Thomas Muller Euro 2016 Football
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