Euro 2016: Sport360's Team of the Tournament

Sport360 staff 12/07/2016
Do you agree with our XI? Have your say on social media.

UEFA selected their best XI of Euro 2016 but here’s our own dream team of 11 starters plus seven substitutes who were the premier performers in their positions over the last month.

We took into consideration: overall contribution to their team, consistency and impact on matches…

Starting XI (4-3-3)

Hugo Lloris (France) – Until the semi-final against Germany, Lloris’ brilliance had largely gone unnoticed but he was there every time to make crucial saves that kept his side in games. His stop from Joshua Kimmich in the last four was stunning.

Darijo Srna (Croatia) – The Croats limp last 16 exit to Portugal was deeply disappointing, but throughout it all Srna was their best defender and an inspirational force as he bowed out from international duty.

Pepe (Portugal) – A colossus at the back for Portugal – the area of the pitch so integral to their play. His crowning moment was the final where he intercepted possession 17 times and made a series of crucial tackles and blocks.

Leonardo Bonucci (Italy) – You’ll struggle to find a better, more complete defender in the world. Dominant in the air, His reading of the game is also exceptional while his long passing was crucial to Antonio Conte’s overall strategy.

Raphael Guerreiro (Portugal) – At 22, Portugal have their left-back position sorted for the rest of the decade. Although his attacking play catches the eye, what was most impressive is that when he lost the ball or his man, he always tried to recover.

Jakub Blaszczykowski (Poland) – He slipped under the radar a little due to Poland’s largely dour approach but ‘Kuba’ was their best player, scoring two goals and delivering an assist. At least a 7/10 in each of their games.

Toni Kroos (Germany) – You can probably count on one hand the amount of passes wasted by Kroos in this tournament. An absolute midfield masterclass, with his display in the first half against France particularly outstanding.

Nani (Portugal) – While Cristiano Ronaldo drifted in and out of the tournament, Nani was a constant threat, showing the dribbling and finishing skills that marked him out as such a talent in his youth.

Aaron Ramsey (Wales) – You don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone… Ramsey’s absence was a huge blow for Wales in their semi-final against Portugal and they were simply unable to compensate for his energy and craft in the middle of the park.

Thanks for taking the time out to come yesterday. What a day!

A video posted by Aaron Ramsey (@aaronramsey) on

Antoine Griezmann (France) – Had a strange tournament as he started poorly, was dropped and then came alive emphatically, becoming the posterboy for France. Six goals is the most for any player at one Euros since Platini’s nine in 1984.

Gareth Bale (Wales) – His goals were vital in securing Wales top spot in Group B, but most of his good work largely went unseen as his mere presence on the field saw defenders drawn to him like limpets, opening up the space for team-mates.

Wish my team mates @cristiano and @official_pepe good luck tonight! Head to @sportconvo for updates #Euro2016

A photo posted by Gareth Bale (@garethbale11) on

Euro2016-Team-of-Tournament

SUBSTITUTES: GK: Gianluigi Buffon (Italy), CB: Ragnar Sigurdsson (Iceland), CB: Jose Fonte (Portugal), MF: Renato Sanches (Portugal), MF: Birkir Bjarnason (Iceland), AM: Dimitri Payet (France), FWD: Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal).

Most popular

#360view: Why Santos was Portugal's key man

James Piercy 12/07/2016
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • Mail
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • WhatsApp
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
Fernando Santos guided Portugal to a remarkable win.

It was English football’s great anti-intellectual Harry Redknapp who once said of management: “The truth is, it is all about players, and if you have good players then this job is not that difficult.”

Granted, Portugal have possessed one of the two best players in the world for the last seven years, but there was little in their squad to suggest at the start of Euro 2016, bar a mediocre group, they were champions-in-waiting.

That view was only enhanced during a turgid opening round where they failed to beat Iceland, then Austria before conceding three goals to Hungary. On June 22, Ronaldo or not, this was not a team ready to be continental kings.

Which is why their victory at the Stade de France on Sunday is a triumph for coaching and the work of Fernando Santos, who superseded Ronaldo – no mean feat in itself – to become the most important individual in that Portugal squad.

International football management must be a curious task as you’re working with a small group of players – with maybe 10-15 of the same faces – for around six weeks in non-tournament years.

These players are drawn from a multitude of clubs – 16 in Portugal’s case – so therefore are accustomed to a number of different training exercises, tactical approaches and come from very different dressing rooms, in terms of atmosphere and team dynamic with a whole range of personalities.

It’s why, against this fractured and complicated backdrop, the coaches who tend to succeed at international level, are the ones who can foster the best teamwork.

Marc Wilmots has dined out on the individual brilliance of the stars within his Belgium team for four years but when it’s come to the crunch in major tournaments, the faultlines that have always existed have been brutally revealed.

With every Belgian defeat, members of the squad were lining up to point the finger of blame at their coach. That’s not the work of a man who has created a unified squad behind one common goal.

It was the same with England; Roy Hodgson reduced from a previously well-respected manager to a figure of fun amid leaks from within the camp at his apparent archaic training methods.

At the other end of the scale, it says a lot about Joachim Low and Didier Deschamps’ standing among their players that despite their own failures – albeit of a slightly lesser magnitude – little to no criticism has, so far, come from within.

As his rivals fell by the wayside, though, Santos was the last man standing with yet another divine defensive performance to keep the tournament’s best attack at bay.

Critics will point to the fact Portugal are European champions having won just one of their seven games inside 90 minutes.

Ignoring the uniqueness of tournament football, that’s looking at things from the wrong way; Portugal are European champions having gone seven games unbeaten.

It may be a sad indictment of football in the modern age that a team blessed with attacking players of the potency of Ronaldo, retreated to a pragmatic style but then you weren’t paying attention during the group stage.

A simple statistic to emphasise the change of approach is that during the three group games Ronaldo took 30 shots at goal; in the preceding four knockout matches (admittedly with just 25 minutes in the final) he attempted just 15.

For Santos to convince an ego the size of Ronaldo’s to take a backseat and assume a secondary role to that of the collective, is quite an achievement. But that reveals not only Ronaldo’s own selflessness, but the skill of Santos to have recognised where his team’s true strengths lay – in defence and a midfield unit of hard-working and industrious players – then convey his message with little opposition.

Every successful coach is, to some extent, a lucky one, and had Antoine Griezmann taken at least one chance or Andre-Pierre Gignac rolled his shot inside, rather than onto the post, then we would perhaps be bemoaning about what a missed opportunity it was for Ronaldo and the Seleccao.

But while Redknapp’s not necessarily wrong, as the best teams throughout history have tended to contain the world’s best individuals, Portugal have shown football very much remains a team game and why having a good coach can take you to special places.

Most popular

Euro 2016: The best stats

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • Mail
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • WhatsApp
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
Portugal won their first major trophy in Paris.

Portugal recorded a historic win to lift their first major international trophy when they beat France in the Euro 2016 final on Sunday night.

The tournament produced some fine performances from individual players and teams as a whole.

Here, we look at some of the best statistics from the competition as presented by uefa.com.

TOP INDIVIDUAL PERFORMERS

euro-2016-player-stats

TOP SCORER – ANTOINE GRIEZMANN

Cristiano Ronaldo walked away with the trophy but he was one of four players who were second to Antoine Griezmann in the scoring charts. The Atletico de Madrid forward scored six goals in the competition, twice as many as Ronaldo, Olivier Giroud, Dimitri Payet and Gareth Bale. Griezman was also named player of the tournament.

MOST ASSISTS – EDEN HAZARD/AARON RAMSEY

Eden Hazard produced some good moments during the tournament and managed to register four assists. Meanwhile, Aaron Ramsey matched the Belgian’s tally and was considered a major miss in Wales’ semi-final defeat to Portugal. The duo were closely followed by Ronaldo (3).

FASTEST PLAYER – KINGSLEY COMAN

Kingsley Coman wasn’t deemed worthy of a regular starting berth under Didier Deschamps but when he did take to the field, he left defenders for dead on a few occasions. The Bayern Munich winger clocked a top speed of 32.8 km/h while the likes of Yannick Carrasco (32.3), Eric Johansson (32.1), Sime Vrsaljko (31.9) and Albin Ekdal (31.9) weren’t too far behind.

MOST SAVES – HANNES HALLDORSSON

Iceland went on the most memorable run at Euro 2016, all the way to the semi-finals. That would’ve never happened though if it wasn’t for their man between the posts, Hannes Halldorsson. The 32 year-old was put under plenty of pressure and did well to deny oppositions time and again.

TOURNAMENT OVERVIEW

euro-2016-stats

The tournament wasn’t exactly a goal glut. During the first couple of rounds in the group stages, teams appeared to draw blanks or win by the odd goal. Several games from the knockout rounds needed extra-time or even penalties. It all resulted in an underwhelming goals per game average of 2.12, the least in the European Championship since Euro 1996 (2.06).

euro-2016-stats-1

The bulk of the goal scoring was done on either side of half-time with teams often starting games cautiously. Meanwhile, the tournament did see plenty of late goals as well with a total of 28 being scored between the 76th minute and the end of regulation time.

BEST TEAM STATS

euro-2016-stats-passing

It’s no surprise that Spain and Germany dominated the passing statistics although Switzerland registering pass completion percentage of 91% does raise a few eyebrows. Spain were hardly at their best while Germany never really got out of third gear either. England sneak in with 59 % possession, the third best in the tournament.

euro-2016-stats-shots

France were the favourites to win the tournament and from the above stats, you can see why. Les Bleus had the most attempts and the highest goals per game average, which was boosted no doubt by their 5-2 win over Iceland in the semi-finals.

Tournament winners Portugal matched the hosts in terms of attempts while it’s not surprising that they lead the way in shots off target, considering the eagerness of a certain Cristiano Ronaldo.

Most popular