Euro 2016: My Team Of The Tournament

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GK: Hannes Halldórsson (Iceland) – Despite conceding the most goals in the tournament (9), the Icelandic stopper also made the most saves (27). It was these saves, along with a formidable team spirit and the support of their passionate fans, which helped Iceland progress to the quarter-finals of their first ever major international tournament. Although they were put to the sword by France, with over half their conceded goals coming in this one game alone, Iceland, and in particular Halldórsson, should be immensely proud of their achievements.

Halldorsson - sportschau.de
Halldorsson – sportschau.de

DR: Alessandro Florenzi (Italy) – Although Florenzi did not play as a conventional full-back due to Italy’s three-at-the-back system, he was a real engine working down the right side for the Azzurri. As a versatile player, Florenzi was able to be effective both offensively, attempting 19 crosses in his four matches, and defensively, making 15 ball recoveries and 5 clearances. His energy and consistency were evident throughout his tournament, with his flying block against Germany regarded by some as the ‘block of the century.’

Italy v Norway - UEFA EURO 2016 Qualifier
Florenzi – forzaroma.info

DC: Pepe (Portugal) – Pepe is certainly not everybody’s cup of tea, especially a certain Gary Lineker’s, but there is no doubt that he is an exceptional defender. When he actually gets on with his job of preventing the opposition scoring, Pepe is incredibly effective and is up there among the best in the world. Throughout the tournament, the 33-year-old was a colossus at the heart of Portugal’s defence, leading by example. Although he missed the semi-final victory over Wales, Pepe accumulated the most clearances (60) and made seven blocks and 31 clearances. He truly deserves to be in the Team of the Tournament.

Pepe - lemonde.fr.jpg
Pepe – lemonde.fr

DC: Ragnar Sigurdsson (Iceland) – Alongside Pepe at the centre of the defence is Sigurdsson, who made the most tackles in this year’s Euros with seven. The Krasnodar defender was not only instrumental at the back in helping to limit Iceland’s Group F oppositions to just three goals during the group stages, but also proved to be critically important in an attacking sense, too. It was Sigurdsson’s goal, only his second for his country, that drew Iceland level in their Round of 16 tie against England, which of course they went on to win. Later in that game, Sigurdsson made one of the best tackles of the tournament with a brilliant challenge on Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy to prevent an equaliser.

Sigurdsson - zimbio.com 2.jpg
Sigurdsson – zimbio.com

DL: Ben Davies (Wales) – The Tottenham defender, who played on the left side of a three-man defence for Chris Coleman’s side, is traditionally a left-back and has hence been put in this position. Davies opened his tournament with a phenomenal, goal-line clearance to deny Slovakia’s Marek Hamsik in the third minute of Wales’ first match at a major tournament since 1958. Davies continued to go from strength to strength throughout the campaign as Wales reached the semi-finals. The 23-year-old missed the semi-final after picking up two yellow cards and was a big loss against Portugal but he still managed to make 40 ball recoveries, 28 clearances and the most blocks in the tournament, with eight.

Davies - express.co.uk.jpg
Davies – express.co.uk

MC: Toni Kroos (Germany) – Germany’s midfield maestro simply oozes class and he was once again in top form during Germany’s route to the semi-finals. The Real Madrid man racked up a staggering 608 passes, 209 more than anyone else, with a remarkable completion rate of 93%. 424 of those were ‘mid-range passes,’ 158 ahead of second-placed Mesut Ozil, Kroos’ Germany team-mate. Kroos used his wide-ranging passing ability to unpick defences throughout the tournament, dominating games from his deep-lying midfield role in a similar way to that of Andrea Pirlo over the past decade. A class tournament from the 26-year-old.

Kroos - zimbio.jpg
Kroos – zimbio.com

MC: Aaron Ramsey (Wales) – Ramsey did not enter the tournament in the best form having struggled somewhat with Arsenal towards the end of the season. However, the Gunners midfield was in superb form at the Euros and was instrumental in Wales reaching the semi-finals. The 25-year-old set up Hal Robson-Kanu’s winning goal in the opener against Slovakia then scored Wales’ first with a lovely chipped finish and set up the third in the 3-0 rout over Russia. It was against Belgium in the quarter-finals, though, that Ramsey was simply unstoppable as he provided two further assists in the historic victory for the Red Dragons. His influence was most notable when he was suspended for the semi-final defeat.

Ramsey - express.co.uk
Ramsey – express.co.uk

MC: Dimitri Payet (France) – West Ham’s magician sparked the tournament into life with his stunning 89th minute winner against Romania before he sealed the win over Albania with a 96th minute goal, another class finish. Payet scored his third of the tournament in the demolition of Iceland and also claimed two assists. He was undoubtedly the best player during the group stages of the tournament, but his spectacular performances were somewhat overshadowed by the brilliance of team-mate Antoine Griezmann during the knockout phases. West Ham will be desperate to keep hold of their set-piece master.

Payet - dailymail.co.uk
Payet – dailymail.co.uk

WR: Gareth Bale (Wales) – Wales’ star man was under immense pressure going into the tournament to deliver on the big stage for his country and the Real Madrid winger did not disappoint. Bale took just 10 minutes to open the scoring in Wales’ opening game with a freekick against Slovakia. The 26-year-old then scored another freekick in the encounter with England, thanks to further questionable goalkeeping; Bale, in just two games, became the most successful freekick taker in Euros history! Another goal against Russia meant that the Welshman was joint-top in the race for the Golden Boot after the group stages. Despite not scoring again, Bale continued to be Wales’ danger man and it was his wicked driven cross which Gareth McAuley turned into his own net in the Round of 16, sending Wales through. Although he faded towards the end of Wales’ run, Bale still had a fantastic tournament.

Bale - mirror.co.uk
Bale – mirror.co.uk

WL: Antoine Griezmann (France) – Griezmann was the Euro 2016 Player of the Tournament and rightly so. Following a slow start with a poor performance against Romania and being dropped alongside Paul Pogba for the Albania match, the Atletico Madrid forward was brought on and won the game for the hosts with a delicate header in the 90th minute. It was in the knockout stages, though, that the 25-year-old really shone. Griezmann scored two in quick succession to dump Ireland out in the Round of 16 before scoring the fourth in the rout of Iceland. In the semi-final, Griezmann kept his nerve from the penalty spot before tucking away a second to dispatch Germany. Although he was largely ineffective in a disappointing final, he was the tournament’s brightest spark and was unlucky to not win the tournament and the Golden Boot will be little consolation.

Griezmann - directmatin.fr
Griezmann – directmatin.fr

FC: Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal) – Everyone knows the talent of the Portugal captain and three-time player of the year and despite a hugely frustrating start to the campaign with no goals against Iceland or Austria (as well as missing a penalty against the latter), Ronaldo stepped it up in Portugal’s final group game against Hungary. The 31-year-old set up Nani for the first equaliser then scored an outrageous backheel and a powerful header to rescue a point for the eventual champions and send them through to the knockout phases. Ronaldo’s shot led to Quaresma’s winner against Croatia and led his team through the penalty shoot-out against Poland following a motivational call to Joao Moutinho. In the semi-final, Ronaldo produced when it mattered most with a towering header to open the scoring against Wales and then saw his shot diverted home by Nani three minutes later. Ronaldo was cruelly forced off after just 25 minutes following a hard tackle by Payet and was visibly distraught as flashbacks of Euro 2004 came flooding back. But the captain led by example from the touchline, acting as a second manager alongside Fernando Santos. No matter what you think of the player, it was difficult not to feel his pain at coming off and his ecstasy at full-time following Eder’s wonderful winner.

Ronaldo - dailymail.co.uk.jpg
Ronaldo – dailymail.co.uk

Substitutes:

Goalkeeper: Michael McGovern (Northern Ireland) – The former Hamilton goalkeeper was released at the end of last season as his contract expired but there will certainly be many managers looking at recruiting the 32-year-old following a string of fine performances for Michael O’Neill’s side, especially against world champions Germany.

McGovern - bbc.co.uk
McGovern – bbc.co.uk

Defender: Jerome Boateng (Germany) – A terrific defender, possessing all the required qualities which make him one of the world’s best. Boateng made a goal-saving clearance in Germany’s opening game against Ukraine but also helped in attack, too, with fine passing statistics and scoring a great goal against Slovakia in the Round of 16.

Boateng - sportal.co.nz.jpg
Boateng – sportal.co.nz

Defender: Raphael Guerreiro (Portugal) – The Portugal left-back had a fantastic tournament and was unlucky not to make the starting XI. The 22-year-old was brilliant both in defence and in attack and has an incredibly bright future ahead of him. Almost stole the headlines in the final with a freekick that crashed off the crossbar in extra time.

Guerreiro - 20minutes.fr
Guerreiro – 20minutes.fr

Midfielder: Ivan Perisic (Croatia) – After a promising group stage, Croatia fell disappointingly to Portugal in the Round of 16. Perisic scored two, including the late winner against Spain, and also grabbed himself an assist. Inter Milan will do well to hold onto the 27-year-old midfielder.

Perisic - telegraph.co.uk
Perisic – telegraph.co.uk

Midfielder: Andres Iniesta (Spain) – Another player who oozes class, making football look ridiculously easy at times. Had a phenomenal group stage, running the show for the nation looking to win a third successive European Championship. Despite being 32 now, Iniesta was Spain’s best player and unsurprising was near the top of all the passing tables.

Iniesta - sportmagazine.levif.be
Iniesta – sportmagazine.levif.be

Attacker: Eden Hazard (Belgium) – Following a terribly disappointing season at club level, Belgium’s captain turned up for the Euros. After claiming four assists in the tournament (joint-most with Ramsey), Hazard also scored a sublime goal against Hungary in the 4-0 victory, capping an exemplary performance.

Hazard - telegraph.co.uk.jpg
Hazard – telegraph.co.uk

Attacker: Olivier Giroud (France) – Led the line well for France at the tournament, despite the initial lack of support from the fans. Scored three goals and therefore finished tied second with Ronaldo, Bale, Morata, Nani and Payet.

Giroud - telegraph.co.uk
Giroud – telegraph.co.uk

Josh Jones

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