Euro 2016: Team Of The Tournament So Far

Copyright - Andrew Gibney

Copyright – Andrew Gibney

So that’s the first round of fixtures finished at Euro 2016. With that in mind I thought it would be a good idea to select a side that has impressed me.

I have went for a 4-3-3 formation. 

The standout players, so far, have been midfielders with the forwards taking more time to impress. teams like Hungary and Switzerland have impressed greatly as units without maybe a real standout player.

Anyway here is my selection. Feel free to fill up the comments section with any players that I may have missed.

Goalkeeper: Hannes Þór Halldórsson (Iceland)

The Icelandic keeper impressed in his country’s first ever game in a major tournament. The pick of his eight saves, for me, was when he managed to prevent Nani scoring a header from pointblank range early on in the first half.

Was a hero in his homeland for keeping out Portuguese superstar Cristiano Ronaldo. The forward moaning about Iceland’s defensive style and celebrations was nothing more than petty and petulant. The fact is that he couldn’t find a way of beating thirty-two year old Halldórsson, who always looked calm and composed.

Right-back: Darijo Srna (Croatia)

This is actually Srna’s fourth European Championship and he hasn’t lost any of his durability. A true leader on the park, he once again gave his all for his country against Turkey in what proved to be a tight group opener.

Disciplined at the back and was unlucky not to score in the second half after his freekick hit the crossbar. An experienced pro who shows that class is permanent and was vital as Croatia edged the game.

Left-back: Danny Rose (England) 

Rose thrived going forward against Russia and was one of England’s best outlets when it came to creating chances. His crosses were often dangerous and he probably should have been taking a few of the corners ahead of Harry Kane.

Didn’t have much to do defensively but showed a good enough engine to go back and forth when required. Was left badly exposed for Russia’s goal but I don’t blame him for that. Looks to be a natural successor to Ashley Cole, as long as he continues to improve.

Centre-back: Leonardo Bonucci (Italy)

The Italian and Juventus defender is fast becoming one of the world’s best. Once again showed he’s up for any challenge. Times his tackles well and has pace to burn when required.

Obviously the big talking point against the Belgians was his super assist of the Azzurri’s opening goal. Bonucci’s lovely lofted ball delightfully found Emanuele Giaccherini in the box and the rest as they say was history! That pass was Pirlo-esque. But it’s his steely defending that will help Italy to win more games in France.

Centre-Back: Gerard Pique (Spain)

At various times Spain totally battered the Czech Republic but they couldn’t find that illusive goal. That was until the eighty-seventh minute when Gerard Pique ghosted in at the back post to head in the important winner!

The Barcelona man has a strong partnership at the back with Sergio Ramos and it could be that partnership that helps Spain to their third title in a row. Strong and dependable at the back and comfortable in the air or with the ball at his feet, he seemed to breeze through the game. As he proved against the Czechs, he can also cause problems in the opposition penalty area too.

Midfielder: N’Golo Kante (France)

The holding midfielder was the man with the coolest head as his country took time to settle into the opening game. Always there with a tackle or an interception. He also covers so much ground and is the perfect midfield marshall.

Kante also showed continually for the ball and more often than not kept possession for the hosts. Now seems to be the french sides lynchpin!

Midfielder: Toni Kroos (Germany) 

A Rolls Royce type player who always seems to find a teammate with a pass whether it be long or short. Dictated the game against the Ukrainian side and he was rewarded with a fine assist for the world champions opening goal.

His pinpoint accuracy must be a dream for his teammates. Kroos really does have terrific vision and against Ukraine he created five more chances. An integral part of this German side and he proved that in the opening week of the tournament.

Midfielder: Andres Iniesta (Spain)

The Spanish magician turned back the years as he helped orchestrate his country’s win against the Czech Republic. The midfield maestro always showed for the ball and he saw plenty of it. He managed a 90% passing success rate.

As many wondered if Spain could ever break the deadlock, Iniesta never panicked and just kept plugging away and try and find that key pass that would unlock the opposition defence. Finally he pulled the right string and his deft ball in from the edge of the box found Pique, who headed home the winner.

Forward: Arkadiusz Milik (Poland)

A player I picked out before the tournament and I am pleased to say he impressed with his smart runs and his energetic performance. Had a couple of chances in the first half and certainly should have done better with one of them. But he didn’t allow those misses to hamper his enjoyment of the occasion or stop him from trying again.

Was actually more of an attacking threat than Poland’s star turn Robert Lewandowski. Milik finally got on the scoresheet in the second half when he expertly drilled a left foot shot low into the back of the net. It will now be interesting to see if this intelligent forward can continue to outperform his illustrious strike partner.

Forward: Gareth Bale (Wales)

It’s not easy being the poster boy for an entire nation. The pressure seemed to get to Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Cristiano Ronaldo. But Gareth Bale shone under the spotlight and calmed the Welsh nerves with his first free-kick flying past the Slovakian keeper.

You can see why he’s the talisman for the side, he works hard and has that bit of brilliance only world class stars have in their locker. Great that he charged towards the Welsh dugout after his goal as it showed they are all united and determined to make this chance count!

Forward: Dimitri Payet (France)

What a match winner Payet produced to win the tournaments opening game in Paris last Friday night. Had a fine first touch to get it onto his left foot and then he hit an absolute screamer into the top corner. Showed how much the occasion meant to him, when he went off in tears after his wonder strike!

Showed glimpses of Zizou with majestic pirouettes and one touch passes. Was also a constant danger at set-pieces and with his crosses into the box. Payet also created the French opening goal with his lovely in-swinging left foot cross landed on Oliver Giroud’s head.

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