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UEFA EURO 2016: The Sports Lowdown’s Best XI

(Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
(Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

GK: Hugo Lloris (France)

Hugo Lloris proved to be the best goalkeeper amongst so many quality goalkeepers. His consistency helped France reach all the way to the final but was left undone. The captain played every minute of France’s run and made some great saves along the way including a few in the final. He also brought along his ‘sweeper-keeper’ reputation to the tournament and put it into good use.

DEFENCE: Joshua Kimmich (Germany), Pepe (Portugal), Giorgio Chiellini (Italy) and Jonas Hector (Germany).

Germany’s Joshua Kimmich had a brilliant tournament after a stellar debut season with Bayern Munich. The right full-back was set to play second fiddle to Benedikt Howedes but got his chance against Northern Ireland and he took it well. He proved to be equally good in defence as he was in attack with his presence proving to be troublesome for his opponents.

Kimmich seemed suprisingly unfazed with this being his first major tournament for Germany, further forming a reputation as a possible replacement to Phillip Lahm.

Pepe was one of the more experienced figures in this young Portuguese side that went on to make history. In a side based on defensive solidity and organisation, Pepe was a key man in protecting Portugal’s hopes. His 19 interceptions – joint most in the tournament – 6 blocks and 20 successful aerial duels shows what he meant to the team. Pepe played in all but one of the games in Portugal’s road to glory. He put on a mammoth man of the match performance in the final and was one of the best players in the competition.

Giorgio Chiellini was a rock at the back for Antonio Conte’s Italy side with his bravery and commitment being a huge factor in Italy’s success. Many cited this Italy team as the worst in recent memory but Chiellini was important in proving those doubters wrong. His fearless tackling combined with his willingness to put his body on the line for the team showed the true art of defending as Italy did what they are best at to reach the quarter-finals of the tournament.

Jonas Hector was another one making his major tournament bow after a good season with F.C.l Koln in the Bundesliga. Linked with a move to Liverpool and Everton in recent times, his performances at EURO 2016 surely enhanced his reputation. Having layed up several key chances for his teammates, Hector made a huge name for himself and was one of the best full-backs in the tournament.

MIDFIELD: Aaron Ramsey (Wales), Renato Sanches (Portugal), Gareth Bale (Wales), Dimitri Payet (France), and Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal).

Aaron Ramsey imposed his talents on the grand stage in Wales’ fantastic run. His 4 assists were joint most with Belgium’s Eden Hazard and played a grand role in Wales stunning tally of 11 goals in France. Ramsey was able to control the tempo and quality of football that Wales sorely missed when he was suspended in the semi-final against Portugal.

After a relatively poor season in Arsenal, Ramsey has re-ignited his worth at the Euros.

Renato Sanches was ineligible to play in last year’s u21 Euros because he was deemed to be too young. His fearlessness was selected for this Euros and it worked a treat. Voted as the tournament’s best young player, Sanches eclipsed the likes of Kingsley Coman, Anthony Martial and Paul Pogba and showed why Bayern Munich paid 35 million euros to sign him up. The 18-year-old only made his breakthrough for Benfica earlier this season and is set to be a mainstay in the Portuguese side.

Gareth Bale was able to handle expectations of being Wales’ main man as he starred in Wales’ run to the semi-finals. He scored 3 goals in 3 group games including two free-kicks against Slovakia and England.

Although he failed to score after that, he did prove to be a real threat in attack alongside both Sam Vokes and Hal Robson-Kanu. His speed combined with his direct dribbling abilities had all the opponents in a spot of bother.

Dimitri Payet’s stunning performances were a Coup de Grace to those who doubted whether or not he could replicate his West Ham form on the international stage.

He scored three goals, one of which was a fantastic late winner against Romania on the opening day of the tournament along with his 2 assists which were all major contributions in France’s run to the final. West Ham fans will be hoping his performances don’t earn the attention of other clubs looking to buy him.

Captain, Icon, Hero. Cristiano Ronaldo’s wait for a major tournament win with his country ended after Portugal beat France. Despite missing out on almost the entire game after catching a poor tackle from the aforementioned Payet, he was still able to celebrate as his contribution was invaluable. His penalty miss against Austria was a blessing in disguise as it placed Portugal in the seemingly ‘easier’ bracket in the tournament and his contributions after that game (3 goals and 3 assists) which earned him a silver boot were worthy of the accolade he earned at the end of the competition.

ATTACK: Antoine Griezmann (France)

The top scorer of the tournament with 6 goals earns the final place in the team after some scintillating performances. With 5 goals in the knockout rounds, including 2 in the semi-final against World Champions Germany, Griezmann was France’s standout performer.

Linking up well in attack with Giroud and Payet, Griezmann’s pace and skill was able to open up defences and put his opposition to the sword. The result in the final made the golden boot just a mere consolation, though.

About Karan Tejwani

Football fan with massive interest in Europe. Also cover youth football from across Europe.

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