Football Features

Who are the best full-backs left at Euro 2024?

By Harry Edwards

Published: 22:49, 8 July 2024

Euro 2024 is at the semi-final stage and we’ve seen some top-quality full-backs on display.

It feels as though this has been a defence-heavy tournament which hasn’t been fun for those hoping for goals. But those who appreciate the defensive side of the game will have definitely enjoyed some of the full-back performances across the tournament.

The question is, who are the best full-backs left at Euro 2024?

5. Kieran Trippier

Before Euro 2024 started there was a lot of conversation about who would start on the left of England‘s defence. Gareth Southgate named Luke Shaw in his squad but the Manchester United man hasn’t been fit, only making his first appearance in the quarter-finals. In his place has been Kieran Trippier, a decision that hasn’t gone down well with England fans.

However, Trippier hasn’t done too badly, even with the restrictions that come with playing on your weaker foot. The Newcastle man has averaged 4.85 ball recoveries per 90 minutes at Euro 2024, more than any full-back left in the tournament. He also sits second for aerial duels won (1.54) and the top three for passes into the final third and passes into the penalty area.

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4. Theo Hernandez

France haven’t been exciting going forward but they have been stellar defensively. Their centre-backs have received a lot of praise, but France’s full-backs have been putting the work in too. Theo Hernandez is one of the top full-backs in Serie A, creating 44 chances and being directly involved in nine goals last season.

Hernandez has played every minute for France in their run to the Euro 2024 semi-final, beating Ferland Mendy for Les Bleus‘ left-back spot. He has attempted 2.06 take-ons per 90 minutes, the second-most of any full-back left at Euro 2024 and also ranks second for touches in the opposition box (2.06). Defensively, Hernandez has made eight tackles and been dribbled past three times, while committing just one foul. He’s also won possession 12 times in the defensive third.

3. Denzel Dumfries

Denzel Dumfries may be seen more by some as a flying wing-back, not least because he plays that role for Inter Milan. As the Nerazzurri won the league title last season, Dumfries was directly involved in eight goals in 1,640 minutes. He’s also thrived in that role for Netherlands in the past. But Ronald Koeman has reverted to a back four, so how would Dumfries manage in a more orthodox defence? Quite well.

Netherlands’ back four hasn’t limited Dumfries going forward, as he is more advanced than the man on the left, Nathan Ake. Dumfries stays extremely wide too, allowing those further forward to push inside without costing Netherlands their width. Unsurprisingly, Dumfries has averaged more touches in the opposition box than any other full-back left in the competition (3.25). He has also attempted 5.35 passes into the final third at Euro 2024, while winning 4.25 duels.

2. Jules Kounde

Our second French full-back, and you can understand why. Les Bleus have kept four clean sheets in five games, only conceded to a retaken Robert Lewandowski penalty. On the opposing flank to Theo Hernandez sits Jules Kounde, who has really grown into the role. When Kounde signed for Barcelona in 2022, he was a centre-back who sometimes played on the right, but now he is more of a right-back that can also play in the centre. His experience at centre-back has certainly helped his game, being tough to beat on the right.

Of defenders left at Euro 2024, Kounde has made more tackles than any other player, totalling 15. Even when you take into account the fact that both of France’s knockout games have gone all the way to penalties, Kounde still averages a high 2.81 tackles per 90 minutes, second among full-backs left at Euro 2024. But that doesn’t mean he isn’t involved offensively either, with Kounde averaing 5.44 passes into the final third per 90 and 1.5 passes into the penalty area, on top of 0.38 big chances created.

1. Marc Cucurella

No one could have predicted this. Marc Cucurella’s time at Chelsea has made him something of a caricature, a laughing point for opposition fans and a player to bemoan for Blues supporters. The Spaniard always looked to have a mistake in him, even on his best days. But towards the end of the campaign he started to pick up form, earning him the spot as Spain‘s first-choice left-back at Euro 2024.

And Cucurella has been brilliant. He’s started all but one of Spain’s games so far, rested for their 1-0 win over Albania when top spot was already secured. Exactly half of Cucurella’s Spain appearances have been at Euro 2024, showing how late his rise has been. So far this tournament, Cucurella has averaged 1.48 interceptions per 90 minutes, won 2.21 aerial duels and 6.89 total duels, the latter two both highs for full-backs left in the competition. He’s definitely more defensive than he has been for Chelsea, but that’s because Spain have the talent in midfield and attack to control games and create chances. But he has still created 0.49 big chances per 90 minutes. Cucurella has also averaged 4.18 ball recoveries and 2.7 tackles per 90 minutes, both in the top three for semi-final full-backs.