It’s not easy to choose a best XI when Europe’s top players are on display. Certainly people will be a bit disappointed if they don’t see their favourites in our Euro 2012 Team of the Tournament. But we have considered form, the ability to gel with the rest of the team, individual brilliance and tried to accommodate as many countries as possible in picking these eleven players. We have chosen the 4-5-1 or the 4-2-3-1.
Your comments on who could have been chosen and your own best XI are welcome.
IKER CASILLAS (GK): This was an easy one. Iker Casillas has not conceded in 990 minutes of knockout football and won his 100th international match when Spain defeated Italy in the final. His presence during penalties, a composed nature between the sticks and leadership skills made him favourite ahead of Gianluigi Buffon.
PHILIPP LAHM (RB): We know he plays at left-back for Germany, but Lahm is equally apt at steaming forward from the right. We had to accommodate Fabio Coentrao on the left and that means the Bayern Munich defender has to shift on the other side of the pitch. Lethal from crosses and possessing the long shot, Lahm was favourite ahead of Jerome Boateng and Alvaro Arbeloa.
FABIO COENTRAO (LB): This was a tough choice to make ahead of Jordi Alba, but the overall game from Coentrao was an added bonus. He possesses the attacking instinct of Alba and is maybe a notch better at defending. His display against Spain is what won him his place in our XI.
SERGIO RAMOS (CB): Jose Mourinho uses him in the middle of defence and Vicente del Bosque, without Carles Puyol had to continue with that. Ramos was assured in his position with Gerard Pique and his coordination with clubmate Casillas was evident when it came to making quick decisions. He scored a lovely chipped penalty in the shootout against Portugal and has made 25 clearances in all. He also made 394 passes in total— the most for a centre back.
PEPE (CB): Mourinho has a hand in curbing the fiery Portugal defender’s temper. He did not jump into tackles or make rash challenges in the tournament. If Cristiano Ronaldo was the man for them up front, then Pepe was the rock in defence. He made 27 clearances in the tournament.
ANDREA PIRLO (CM): He just had to be there. The lovely passes, the constant presence in midfield and the unforgettable penalty make him a must-have in the squad. Plus, he led the Italians in their change of style and tactics. Pirlo has two assists and the only freekick goal to his name. Pirlo is also only second to Xavi in crosses— delivering 34 of them.
BASTIAN SCHWEINSTEIGER (CM): Schweinsteiger has become a pivotal player for Germany under Joachim Loew. His role of playmaker has allowed the likes of Mesut Ozil and Lukas Podolski to roam all over the field. He set up two quality goals for Germany and is solid defensively too.
ANDRES INIESTA (AM-Centre): Iniesta will revel in his role as attacking midfielder ahead of Pirlo and Schweinsteiger. The Player of the Tournament needs no introduction. He made 455 passes in total and dominated midfield with Xavi and took 12 shots. In spite of not scoring, his creative genius cannot be left out.
DAVID SILVA (AM- Right): Silva starts out as a winger wide right but plays into a more central role. He also gets into the role of striker most times and his goals are proof of that. He also has three assists and was a player who was always involved in Spain’s goals. Mesut Ozil was also a choice here but Silva edged it with his goal in the final.
CRISTIANO RONALDO (Winger-left): You just cannot avoid Ronaldo charging down the left at every opportunity and taking a pop at goal from all sorts of distances. He took 27 shots (the most) in the tournament scoring three goals and carrying Portugal’s attacking responsibilities on his shoulders. He started off slowly but showed his class against Holland, Czech Republic and to an extent— Spain.
MARIO BALOTELLI(ST): Super Mario is our striker. He had close competition but at the end of the day, with so many assured players… you need a madman in the midst of it all. Balotelli’s three goals (all brilliant) and predatory instinct make him the perfect player to feed off Silva and Ronaldo. He was only second to total number of shots taken (19).
Substitutes: Gigi Buffon, Xavi, Mesut Ozil, Mario Gomez, Jordi Alba, Daniele de Rossi and John Terry.
We had to leave out Xavi and Mario Gomez. This is because the team otherwise would mainly consist only of Spain’s players. Xavi had a good tournament but his best was seen only at the end and Gomez failed miserably against Spain. Mesut Ozil was also a fine option on the left of midfield, but Silva was too good to be ignored.