Sports Pundit's Team Of The Euros
The 2012 European Championships are over, but Sports Pundit has decided to reflect and select a Best XI from the tournament.
Goalkeeper Iker Casillas (Spain) The Spanish skipper didn’t have a whole heap much to do during the Euros, but whenever called upon he was reliable. In fact, it’s incredible to consider he only conceded one goal for the whole tournament, in his side’s opening game, meaning he kept five consecutive clean sheets. He also made a famous penalty save from Joao Moutinho in the shootout against the Portuguese.
Right-back Philipp Lahm (Germany) The German captain was his typical influential self during Die Mannschaft’s run to the semifinals, with Lahm netting a fine goal in their quarterfinal triumph against Greece which broke the deadlock. Lahm wasn’t able to fully blitz down the right flank as he has in the past, but he was a livewire and a good outlet for the Germans.
Centre-back Pepe (Portugal) The 2012 Euros may be the tournament the Portuguese centre-half will be remembered for, after producing several steely displays in the backline to help his country reach the semifinals. The Real Madrid man was commanding in defence alongside Bruno Alves and also didn’t give up as many fouls as his reputation suggests he normally does.
Centre-back Sergio Ramos (Spain) Yet another Real Madrid member, Ramos had a wonderful tournament for the triumphant Spanish. It’s strange to think he’d typically play for his country at right-back, however Carles Puyol’s absence opened up an opportunity which he grabbed with both hands. Spain’s stingy defence wasn’t merely down to Casillas; Ramos had a huge effect, playing his part as a leader and even converting a crafty penalty in the semifinal against Portugal.
Left-back Jordi Alba (Spain) This was the tournament the young left-back arrived, and he had a huge final week too, signing a deal with Barcelona and scoring in the European Championship final. Alba’s marauding runs down the left flank were a big feature for Spain and a key part of their success early in the tournament while many were criticising their tiki-taka style. Completed more passes than anyone else in the tournament.
Centre midfield Andrea Pirlo (Italy) The Italian legend had a wonderful tournament, playing a majestic role in the Azzurri’s run to the final. Pirlo’s good form with Juventus, where he won the Serie A title after leaving AC Milan, continued on in Ukraine and Poland, where his composure and control in midfield was there for all to see. The veteran’s dominance against England in their quarterfinal was arguably his highlight.
Centre midfield Sami Khedira (Germany) Yet another Real Madrid man in our Best XI, Khedira had a fine tournament where he filled many roles for his country and even popped up with a sublime volley in the quarterfinal triumph over Greece. While the likes of Bastian Schweinsteiger toiled hard but ultimately struggled, Khedira was a big tick for Germany, with the job he did on Cristiano Ronaldo in the group stage proving his versatility.
Left winger Andres Iniesta (Spain) The guy is a marvel, end of story. His quick incisive passing and instinctive runs off the ball were a sight to behold. The Barcelona man contributed may not have contributed assists but he was always involved at some stage of a move. Iniesta struck up a fine relationship with full-back Jordi Alba on the left flank for Spain, which must make many Barcelona fans excited for next term as they seek to reclaim the La Liga title from Real Madrid.
Right winger David Silva (Spain) The wizardry Manchester City winger had a delightful tournament, providing three assists and two goals, including netting the crucial opener of the final with his head. The Spaniard was a consistent performer for his country, providing an assist for Cesc Fabregas in their opening draw with Italy, while always getting at opponents and trying to find space. Silva truly had a marvellous tournament and proved he’s full of substance and style.
Striker Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal) For some time in this tournament Ronaldo was criticised by many, before soon after being lauded as the player of the tournament, and eventually falling short along with Portugal. It was an event of ups and downs for the Real Madrid superstar but ultimately he proved he is an international star. His failure to take a penalty in the semifinal loss to Spain may be long remembered, but his stellar performances deserve to earn their place in history.
Striker Mario Balotelli (Italy) It’s amazing to think Balotelli is still only 21-years-young, but the Manchester City man has been making headlines for some time now and he created a few new ones during the 2012 Euros with his football doing the talking. Balotelli netted three goals for Italy on their way to the final, with his double in the semifinal victory over Germany the big highlight.
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