European football fans have now settled back into their seats after a roller-coaster ride through the most unpredictable, unnerving and frankly unbelievable group stages that any European Championships has ever seen.
And while the quality of football has been far from opulent, entertainment value has been available in abundance.
From England’s late show against Wales, to Ireland’s shock victory over the Italians and the unfancied teams of Hungary, Northern Ireland and Iceland all progressing to the latter stages; this has arguably verified the controversial decision to expand the tournament to 24 teams.
With so many surprising performances, it is a hard task to select exactly which players have stood out from the rest. However, we have given it a go.
Here are the Five Stars of Euro 2016 so far…
The man who has ignited Euro 2016 perhaps more extraordinarily than any other player, Dimitri Payet has become the face of the host nation’s campaign and seems to have handled the pressure with consummate ease.
The West Ham playmaker has netted twice, set up one and been the outlet in which nearly every French attack has stemmed from.
Should the Frenchman continue his form into the knockout stages, expect some of Europe’s elite throw some audacious transfer bids West Ham’s way this summer.
The somewhat surprise player of the tournament for England so far, Kyle Walker has looked in phenomenal form, providing a constant attacking threat down the right wing and justifying his selection over Nathaniel Clyne.
While the Three Lions campaign has been unsurprisingly average, Walker has looked a cut above the rest and few would argue that there is a better right-back in the tournament or perhaps Europe right now.
Despite sitting out the final group game against Spain, Luka Modric has been an inspired leader for Croatia, scoring a stunning goal in their opening match and providing a constant threat from the middle of the park.
Many now consider Croatia to be the dark horses of the competition, and with Modric in his current vein of form, you wouldn’t bet against them going a very long way.
While Gareth Bale has yet to produce a performance worthy of being classed as one of the world’s best, he has still had an immense impact on Wales and their impressive performances in Group B.
Three goals from three games indicates just how valuable the Real Madrid star is for Chris Coleman’s men and with a relatively favourable draw in the round of 16, Bale could be set for an incredible July.
Three games, three clean sheets, job done.
If the world wasn’t aware already, Jerome Boateng has displayed yet again why he is the best defender in world football right now.
Calm, composed, strong, fast; the superlatives are endless. Germany have yet to hit top gear in this tournament but may not need to if the Bayern Munich man repeats his immense performances in the knockout rounds.