These two have a point to prove...

7 big-name ballers who can redeem themselves in Euro 2024 knockout stages

Euro 2024 has been full of incredible twists and turns so far, but we’re still waiting on a few of the game’s biggest names to truly announce themselves at the tournament.

Nobody remembers the little things in a tournament. It’s all about moments. Specifically, moments that change games.

Trying to look for that big moment can backfire and result in a howler, be it an own-goal, a red card, a glaring miss or similar, but the flip side of the coin is becoming your nation’s hero.

There are several players we’d have banked on to have turned up in a big moment for their country by now, but haven’t quite come to boiling point just yet.

With the group stages out of the way, though, and the lights shining brighter on the knockouts, we’re backing the following seven players to clutch up and redeem themselves.

Cristiano Ronaldo

It’s been a strange start for Portugal who finished top of Group F with two wins, but also were beaten 2-0 by Georgia in their final matchday and have been subjected to criticism thus far, with many people expecting more from the potential winners.

That most likely comes as a result of Ronaldo’s start to the tournament, having failed to score in the group stage of a major tournament for the first time since 2008.

The stats don’t make for pretty reading around the 39-year-old, who was substituted as Portugal lost to Georgia, but this is Ronaldo we’re talking about.

A man with 130 international goals to his name and now with it all to prove, you’d be insane to write him off. A big, clutch moment feels inevitable.

Ronaldo hasn't always swept opponents aside at international level.

TRY A QUIZ: Can you name the 24 international teams Cristiano Ronaldo hasn’t scored against?

Kevin De Bruyne

De Bruyne and Belgium’s ugly group stage campaign was summarised by an equally ugly exit from the field as they were booed off by their own fans following a 0-0 draw with Ukraine, finishing second behind Romania in a seriously bizarre Group E.

All four sides finished on four points, but with Belgium currently ranked number three in the world by FIFA, finishing second behind Romania, drawing with Ukraine and losing to Slovakia isn’t good enough.

The Manchester City midfielder has epitomised that tough start, failing to leave his mark on the group stages with just one goal scored in three largely lacklustre performances, unlike his usual self.

However, with a huge tie against France awaiting them, and having taken his players off the field as they were booed, it’s now on the captain to deliver a stellar performance in the round of 16.

Jude Bellingham

Given just how imperious he’s been for club and country over the last few years, it’s easy to forget that Bellingham is still actually only 20 years old and still actually more than eligible for the Young Player of the Tournament award.

His performances and potential have put him on the table with football’s elite already, though, thus he’s held to much higher standards.

Winning La Liga and the Champions League in his first season at Real Madrid, he’s yet to showcase that big-game ability for England in Germany, with the Three Lions stuttering into the knockout stages.

Bellingham has looked tired at times, but he also appears to be suffering due to the system Gareth Southgate is deploying.

Get him back in the number eight role and watch him influence play far more consistently throughout the knockout stages. It’s only a matter of time before we see that iconic celebration.

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TRY A QUIZ: Can you name every goalscorer from the Euro 2024 group stages?

Harry Kane

Sticking with England, much more should be expected of the nation’s leading scorer, who’s just put together a 44-goal debut season with Bayern Munich.

Kane has scored just once so far at Euro 2024 and has looked seriously off the pace, often dropping too deep to retrieve the ball and not being in a position to finish. Again, though, this feels down to an imbalance in Southgate’s side as he figures out his most effective XI.

There were positive signs in a goalless draw against Slovenia, though, and with the pressure ramped up in the knockout stages, Kane only needs one chance to make a defence pay. Write him off at your peril.

Virgil van Dijk

Liverpool’s captain hasn’t had the start he’d have hoped for at the tournament and looked particularly rough around the edges against Austria, but knockout football is a different beast and experience pays in the big games.

The 32-year-old is now coming down the other side of the mountain when it comes to his peak, but with the Oranje through by any means necessary, the cobwebs have been dusted off.

Van Dijk will thrive on the challenge of Germany and – if he’s on the ball – there’s no reason Ronald Koeman’s side can’t knock out the hosts.

Kai Havertz

Alternatively, Havertz similarly has a point to prove for Germany, with fans desperate to see more of Niclas Fullkrug – and for good reason.

Two goals in three games for Borussia Dortmund’s big lad has undoubtedly put Havertz under pressure to perform and improve on his one singular goal so far.

But what Fullkrug provides in crash, bang, wallop, Havertz makes up for with crucial link-up play and use of space in the final third, making incredibly neat runs to pick holes in otherwise watertight defences.

He might not be the most consistent in front of goal, but there are few with a profile like Havertz. He’s also scored the winner in a Champions League final, so he knows what it takes.

The group stages are over and our rankings are in.

READ: Euro 2024 Group Stage Power Ranking: Spain top, Austria 3rd, England below Georgia…

Antoine Griezmann

A favourite under Didier Deschamps for good reason, Griezmann rarely lets his manager down, even if his performances on the pitch aren’t always the most consistently lethal these days.

He was the hero at Euro 2016 and turned into a midfield creator at the 2022 World Cup, playing a new role to perfection, but has so far flown a little bit under the radar in Germany. It won’t be for long, though. He’s just getting warmed up.

The focus has been on the huge chance he missed against the Netherlands, but with France set to do battle against Belgium in the round of 16, don’t be at all surprised if Griezmann – who’s been wearing the armband for Les Bleus – comes alive with a show-stealing performance with all eyes on them.