Euro 2012 'Team of the Tournament' - the best in the Eastern Bloc
Get ready to disagree with 7DAYS' 'Team of the Tournament'. Apologies to Sami Khedira, Mario Balotelli, Mesut Ozil, Philipp Lahm, David Silva & Pepe.
GIANLUIGI BUFFON (Italy) - The Italian stopper just edges out winning captain Iker Casillas. Both legends deserved to be in the team but we have to stick the Juve hero in between the posts rather than his rival - if only for the great gusto he showed when singing the national anthem - Paverotti would have been proud...
THEODOR GEBRE SELASSIE (Czech Republic) - Was unheard of at the start of the tournament but thanks to some fine performances he now has fans across the world. Only made his international debut a year ago but looked at ease on the big stage. He’s just moved to Werder Bremen but a good season could lead to another big move.
MATS HUMMELS (Germany) - Ok, so he wasn’t great against Italy but (i) name us a German player that was, and (ii) we’ll allow him one night off. Bar his sorry semi he was perfect and everything you’d want in a centre-back: good in the air and at ease coming forward with the ball at his feet - cultured...
SERGIO RAMOS (Spain) - The Spanish defence never gets the plaudits it deserves and once again the Real star was the main man at the back, dominant as ever. In the absence of the injured Carles Puyol, Ramos stepped up and marshalled the men at the back. Ten consecutive clean-sheets in knockout games in major tournaments says it all.
JORDI ALBA (Spain) - 7DAYS’ player of the tournament, Alba was simply superb. It’s scary how good Barca will be with Alba in the side as their new left-back, but also weird to think of him with defensive duties as he attacked down the flank at every opportunity. A great goal in the final was fitting reward for the new star.
XABI ALONSO (Spain) - It’s a testament to just how good the tournament was that Sami Khedira cannot find a place in our lineup. The German was brilliant throughout but is just pushed out by Alonso. While Iniesta and Xavi get all the praise (see left) you shouldn’t underestimate just how valuable Alonso is to Spain, he’s the silent heartbeat of the great side.
ANDREA PIRLO (Italy) - Quite simply utter class. The best praise we can give him is to say he’d get into the Spain starting XI. It was as if his precision passes, both short and long, were laser-guided. He epitomised the spirit and attacking verve Italy revealed over the past month and we’ll never tire of watching that penalty.
ALAN DZAGOEV (Russia) - Simply by being a Russian called Alan us lot in 7DAYS Towers were a big fans of his before the tournament even started. However, Dzagoev deserves his place for his attacking excellence in the group stages. He looks a fine prospect for the future and convinced us that not all the Russian team were old has-beens.
CRISTIANO RONALDO (Portugal) - Yes, he didn't take a penalty in the semi-final shootout when he should have, and yes, he's quite annoying. But there’s no denying he had a good tournament and nearly reached greatness by single-handedly taking Portugal all the way. However, we’d ban him from re-styling his hair at half-time...
ANDRES INIESTA (Spain) - Another player for whom no superlative is wasted on. Along with Alonso he was the one Spanish midfielder who played well throughout the tournament and will now rightly go down as an all-time great. And together with Xavi he personifies what the great side is all about and should be the player all kids want to emulate.
MARIO GOMEZ (Germany) We admit this might seem a weird choice. But this wasn’t a brilliant tournament for strikers and not just because of Spain’s new policy of ignoring their existence. But Gomez just gets the nod over Mario Balotelli for his great goals against the Netherlands.