Euro 2016: Team of the tournament

Formation: 4-2-3-1

Goalkeeper: Gianluigi Buffon

At 38-years-old, has once again defied his age to produce a number of excellent performances. One of the few remaining players from the World Cup triumph of a decade ago, Buffon’s experience has been invaluable in helping his team perform so admirably in the tournament. Just the one goal conceded in four games at the tournament, including impressive clean sheets against Belgium and Spain. Made a number of crucial saves against Germany and was very unlucky to be on the losing side in the quarter-final. Still one of the greats.

Right-back: Joshua Kimmich

The 21-year-old Bayern Munich player came into the side against Northern Ireland and kept his place for the remainder of the tournament. Solid at the back, good on the ball and gets forward well, the full-back fitted in seamlessly with the German’s efficient style of play. Showed real guts in the penalty shoot-out against Italy and unlucky not to score against France in the semi-final. Is it too soon to call him the new Lahm?

Centre-back: Leonardo Bonucci

The best defender at the tournament. Ever-present throughout for the Azzurri, the Juventus defender was excellent throughout at the heart of an impregnable Italian defence. Old-fashioned defender who loves the physical battles, performed marvellously against dangerous attackers of Belgium and Spain and even held his nerve from the spot against the Germans. Narrowly beats out Germany’s Jerome Boateng who was superb throughout.

Centre-back: Pepe

A class act – when he isn’t trying to con referees. The Real Madrid defender was the rock at the back of a strong Portuguese defence who were particularly effective in knockout stages where they conceded just one goal in four matches. Missed the match against Wales through injury but returned with excellent display in final against France. Honourable mentions must go to Wales trio Ashley Williams, Ben Davies and James Chester who also enjoyed fine tournaments.

Left-back: Raphael Guerreiro

Recently signed for Borussia Dortmund and has shown why he is such a promising young talent. Sticks to his defensive duties well and provides great attacking option with pace from the back. Went agonisingly close to scoring in final with free-kick. A future star.

Centre-midfield: Joe Allen

Hard to think this is the same player who has struggled to get into the Liverpool side. Instrumental in helping Wales get all the way to the semi-final, Allen excelled throughout the championship with his wonderful range of passing and protected his defence well when needed. Ran his socks off for the team and looked very adept at this level.

Centre-midfield: Renato Sanches

Very difficult to leave the peerless Toni Kroos out, but this young man had to be included. Just 18-years-old but has played like a seasoned veteran. So much energy to his game, Sanches has grown into the tournament with every passing game. Provided man-of-the-match display in quarter-finals against Poland including a thunderous strike for equaliser. Strong, quick and has bags of skills, Bayern Munich have signed one hell of a player.

Right-wing: Gareth Bale

The Welsh talisman. Rounded off a fantastic couple of months with a memorable campaign for his country. Three goals in three group stage games including two smashing free-kicks and provided the one moment of class which proved to be the difference against Northern Ireland in last-16 tie. Was quieter against Belgium and Portugal but was still a real threat going forward. A remarkable tournament for a remarkable player.

No.10: Aaron Ramsey

Looked a completely different player from the one who at times struggled for Arsenal last season. Brilliant throughout, whether it be from his beautifully-taken clipped finish against Russia to his expert ball control and cross for Robson-Kanu’s stunning strike against the Belgians. Was a real miss for Wales in semi-final and fans may be thinking what might of been had he been there, such was his form. One goal and four assists, a great return for any player at a major tournament. Player of the tournament.

Left-wing: Dimitri Payet

Taken his wonderful Premier League form into the tournament. Was phenomenal in group stages with two goals and one assist from first two  group games. Came off the bench against Switzerland and came agonisingly close to scoring one of the goals of the tournament as his volley hit the bar. Continued his mesmeric form throughout with another goal against Iceland in quarter-finals. Was very quiet in final but still provided a threat out wide. A pleasure to watch.

Striker: Antoine Griezmann

Top goal-scorer with 6 goals. Atletico forward got better as tournament wore on particularly impressing in knockout stages. Was the hero against Ireland and Germany with two braces. Scored a range of great goals that showcased different parts of his game. Difficult year with final defeats in both Champions League and Euros, but was born to play on this stage.



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