Euro 2012: The team of the tournament
Goalkeeper – Iker Casillas
A number of goalkeepers staked a claim to be the best at Euro 2012. Joe Hart was consistently impressive while Manuel Neuer pulled off a number of decent saves.
However, how can you fault a man who conceded one goal and made important saves on the rare occasions he was called into action?
Right back – Glen Johnson
Although England had a disappointing tournament, Glen Johnson was a rare bright spark in the team.
Along with Steven Gerrard, Johnson had a great tournament.
Always happy to come forward, the Liverpool full back also added some encouragingly good defensive play to his game, which contributed to a relatively solid English defence.
Centre back – Gerard Pique
Like Casillas, if a team keeps five consecutive clean sheets, the defence probably should be thanked.
Although Pique wasn’t called into action too much, whenever he was, he never looked like letting strikers though.
He shackled the dangerous Mario Balotelli superbly and just about edged out teammate Sergio Ramos.
Centre back – Mats Hummels
For most of the tournament, Germany’s defence was very solid indeed.
However, it was blown apart by Italy in the semi-final. That said, very little blame can be attributed to the German centre back.
He made a number of crucial blocks and it was arguably the lack of defensive care employed by the German full backs which cost the team.
Left back – Jordi Alba
Simply put, the player of the tournament. I’ve written a fair bit about Jordi Alba today, so let me briefly say why he is a certain player in the team of the tournament:
Defensive midfield – Sergio Busquets
I wasn’t Busquets’ biggest fan before Euro 2012 and I still think elements of his game leave a lot to be desired.
However, as a midfielder, he was excellent at mopping up loose balls, moving the ball to other midfielders, and he was constantly available for a pass from teammates. Without him, Spain may not have been as successful.
Central midfield – Sami Khedira
Although Germany never hit their usually high standards, Khedira (pictured) had a really good tournament for Germany.
Combining defensive solidity with attacking flair, Khedira was arguably Germany’s player of the tournament, especially as he often had to cover for Bastian Schweinsteiger, who was anything but 100% fit.
Central midfield – Andrea Pirlo
Italy’s only player in my team of the tournament. It tells a bit of a story.
While it would be silly to call Italy a one man team, Pirlo controlled the games against Spain in the group stage, much of the clash against Croatia, and utterly dominated the game against England.
Sitting at the base of a strong midfield, he provided so much service to the attacking players.
Left attacking midfield – Andres Iniesta
Voted by UEFA as the player of the tournament and although I disagree, he clearly had a great few weeks.
His assist against Croatia was typically selfless, while he played big roles in Fabregas’ equaliser against Italy, and most of the goals against Ireland in that 4-0 victory.
In the latter stages, Iniesta played well against France and Portugal, but his performance against Italy in the final was particularly impressive. Himself and Xavi kept Spain in control of the game, and he deserves his recognition.
Right attacking midfield – David Silva
It says a lot that Silva was arguably not at his best throughout Euro 2012 and still does enough to get into my team of the tournament.
The Manchester City playmaker opened the scoring in the final and also added a goal against Ireland.
His assist in the group stage against Italy was excellent and his all round play was important in providing width and guile to a Spanish team which often suffered from a lack of penetration in an over-crowded midfield.
False nine – Cristiano Ronaldo
Yes, I too am going to use the Spain system and employ a “false nine”.
Ronaldo ended the tournament with three goals and was by far Portugal’s best performer at Euro 2012.
It will be a source of enormous frustration to the Real Madrid man that he was not able to take a penalty in the shootout loss to Spain in the semi-final, and that he was not able to influence the game as he would have liked.
Neverthless, against the Netherlands and Czech Republic, Ronaldo was talismanic, displaying his usual mix of skill, vision and athleticism to inspire a limited Portugal side to the semi-finals.
By Doug Elder - Follow me on Twitter @DouglasElder2