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Best XI of Euro 2016

Charlie Palmer takes a look back at Euro 2016 to select his dream side

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Goalkeeper

Hugo Lloris only conceded five goals through seven games at Euro 2016, as well as picking up three clean sheets. What earned him his spot on the team is not just his record in keeping the ball out of the net at the tournament as other keepers conceded fewer goals (Neuer conceded three) but also the quality of saves the Frenchman produced. Lloris is known for his reflexes and agility and both were on show throughout the tournament.

Defence

Defence provided an issue when selecting this team as there was a real lack of standout performers from both full back positions. A traditional back four was maintained and as a result Boateng has been placed on the right.

Jérôme Boateng established himself as a leader for the German national team and led from the back through his passing and defensive organisation. It is noteworthy that Germany only conceded their first goal from open play when Boateng was forced off the pitch due to injury.

Bonucci performed very well at the back for Italy. Image: wikimedia.org
Bonucci performed very well at the back for Italy. Image: wikimedia.org

Leonardo Bonucci is in the team of the tournament for many of the same reasons as Boateng; he was a vocal leader on the field who marshalled arguably the best defence seen at the tournament – and who can forget his 60-yard assist for Giaccherini’s opener against Belgium.

Ashley Williams played with the lack of fear fans of the Premier League have come to expect making a huge number of blocks (seven) and clearances (43). Williams’ performances typified the Welsh effort; huge amounts of heart and passion mixed in with genuine skill and talent.

Raphael Guerreiro is the final player in the back four. As stated earlier there was a lack of quality full back play in the tournament as a whole, although Guerreiro played very well, improving as the time wore on. The 22 year old appeared defensively solid as well as offering a genuine threat going forward demonstrated by his free kick against Germany that unfortunately rattled off the crossbar.

Midfield

Kroos proved to be an anchor in the German midfield. Image: wikimedia.org
Kroos proved to be an anchor in the German midfield. Image: wikimedia.org

Toni Kroos anchors the midfield following a tournament in which his passing range and ability to dictate a match was on full display. The Real Madrid man controlled all of the games he played in, never allowing the opposition to truly get going.

Aaron Ramsey ran tirelessly throughout the tournament linking up play and providing a touch of class all over the field for the Welsh. Wales deeply missed his box-to-box play against Portugal as they struggled to truly question their opponents. Welsh fans can only wonder what might have happened had he not been suspended for the semi-final.


Mesut Özi
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performed a similar role for the Germans, slightly higher up the pitch. Özil’s creativity and ability were on full display in the final third throughout the tournament, however he was let down by his attackers who failed to capitalise on the numerous chances he created.

Attack

Ronaldo performed when Portugal needed him. Image: wikimedia.org
Ronaldo performed when Portugal needed him. Image: wikimedia.org

Cristiano Ronaldo takes up his traditional place on the right wing, as while he didn’t have a stellar tournament as a whole he turned up when Portugal needed him most: scoring twice against Hungary to earn Portugal a draw and qualification from the group stages. He also scored a towering header against Wales to see Portugal through to the final. Ronaldo also became the first player to score at four European Championships, demonstrating his class.

Gareth Bale was the talismanic figure Wales needed him to be. He scored in every group game, including two free kicks, as well as being the focal point for every Welsh attack. Unfortunately he couldn’t quite do it all for Wales, however he came very close.

Antoine Griezmann, for many the player of the tournament, completes the team. Griezmann scored six goals at Euro 2016, the most goals scored at a European Championships since Michel Platini scored nine in 1984, however it wasn’t enough to guide the home nation to victory. Having lost the Champions League and Euro final in one year, it will be interesting to see if Griezmann is able to up his performances further and lead both his teams to greatness over the next few years.

Subs: Neuer, Chiellini, Krychowiak, Allen, Payet, Nani.

EURO2016XI

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