How difficult and thankless it is to shine when the spotlight points elsewhere. A knockout tournament is always full of surprises, although more in its results than in its protagonists. The spotlight is usually focused on the strikers (the goal predators), the playmakers (the creators of play and chances), or even the goalkeepers when their performances are close to excellence. However, what if in such an atypical year and in such a unique competition, the protagonists were others?
A plot so irreverent and unpredictable that not even Quentin Tarantino himself would have filmed it. On this occasion, the spectacle was provided by players who play a position that is as sacrificed as it is underrated, the full backs.
Dumfries, Spinazzola and Maehle: who would dare to predict their explosion or even give them a fundamental role in the tournament? All of them have more than fulfilled their role and have emerged as the cornerstones of their teams, providing depth, pace and flexibility when necessary.
Dumfries was a dagger in the right side of the Clockwork Orange, becoming a nightmare for those who dared to cross his path. The early elimination of his country will not forget the enviable physical build of the hitherto PSV player.
Rome has always been a home for the best warriors and Spinazzola is one of those braves enough to go into battle without armor. Italy has always been known for its defensive play and the Roma full back is one of its best attacking players.
Christian Erikssen’s incident foreshadowed a dark future for the Danes and left a team full of empty hopes in check. Far from falling back, the arrival of Maehle gave the Nordic team an injection of optimism, and through order and sacrifice they have earned a place in the top four.