Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Euro 2020 Team Of The Tournament: Italy Dominate As Ronaldo And Pogba Miss Out

An all-England and Italy backline but an 18-year-old midfielder shines and big-name strikers fail to grab centre-forward spot.

Goalkeeper: Gianluigi Donnarumma (Italy)

Confirmed his status as the one of the world’s best goalkeepers with a brilliant performance in the final that earned him Uefa’s player of the tournament award, decided by a panel that included Fabio Capello, Robbie Keane and David Moyes. Denmark’s Kasper Schmeichel, England’s Jordan Pickford and Switzerland’s Yann Sommer pushed Donnarumma close but the 22-year-old who is set to join Paris Saint-Germain on a free transfer was an imposing figure in the Azzurri’s formidable defence.

Right-back: Kyle Walker (England)

Walker was rarely given licence to show his attacking ability but was a solid presence in defence and his versatility allowed England to switch fluidly between formations. Denzel Dumfries was sensational for the Netherlands in the group stage and Denmark’s Jens Stryger Larsen also impressed, but Walker just edges out Italy’s unlikely star Giovanni Di Lorenzo.

Centre-back: Leonardo Bonucci (Italy)

Quickest to react when scoring Italy’s equaliser in the final and performed a defensive masterclass against Raheem Sterling and Harry Kane. The 34-year-old revelled in his post-match victory lap of Wembley, telling England supporters who remained to “eat more pasta”, and ended having contributed to four clean sheets and scored in the shootout wins in the semi-final and final.

Centre-back: Giorgio Chiellini (Italy)

If anything, the 36-year-old seems to be improving with age. Led his team to victory through sheer bloodymindedness at times – just ask Bukayo Saka. Harry Maguire deserves credit for his performances having come into the tournament injured, and Simon Kjær was an inspirational leader for Denmark. But the captain of this team just has to be Chiellini.

Left-back: Luke Shaw (England)

Left out of the opening match against Croatia for Kieran Trippier, the Manchester United defender was outstanding in both positions he was asked to play and as well as starting and finishing England’s brilliant goal in the final, he contributed three assists. Leonardo Spinazzola was another strong contender before his tournament was cruelly cut short by an injury in Italy’s quarter-final victory over Belgium, and Joakim Mæhle brought another dimension to Denmark’s attacking play.

Midfield: Pedri (Spain)

 

The 18-year-old took his Barcelona form on to the international stage and ended with the award for best young player, having completed an astonishing 429 of the 465 passes he attempted in six matches – a 92% success rate. To dominate an Italy midfield containing Marco Verratti and Nicolò Barella takes some doing and Pedri looks likely to be at the heart of Spain’s team for many years.

Midfield: Jorginho (Italy)

He was fortunate not to be sent off in the final for an awful challenge on Jack Grealish and missed the chance to win the shootout but Jorginho has been the tournament’s outstanding deep-lying midfielder. Declan Rice performed well but struggled to maintain his intense work rate for 90 minutes and Sergio Busquets looked back to his best after suffering from Covid. However Jorginho – the 10th player to win the Champions League and Euros in the same season – dictated Italy’s play to perfection.

Midfield: Kalvin Phillips (England)

An indication of the Leeds midfielder’s growing importance to Gareth Southgate as the tournament progressed was that he stayed on for the every minute of the semi-final and final. Phillips seemed to grow in stature after creating the winning goal against Croatia. Georginio Wijnaldum, Kevin De Bruyne and Renato Sanches had their moments but none could match the consistency of the player who began his career at Wortley Juniors.

Forward: Federico Chiesa (Italy)

Was used as a substitute to great effect in extra time against Austria and became Italy’s most dangerous attacking player from then on. Chiesa was Gerard Piqué’s choice for player of the tournament and it was noticeable how Roberto Mancini’s side missed him after he limped out of the final in extra time. Sweden’s Emil Forsberg and Mikkel Damsgaard of Denmark also made a big impression but couldn’t match Chiesa.

Centre-forward: Patrik Schick (Czech Republic)

In a tournament where many of the big-name strikers failed to catch fire, it was the player who scored the goal of the tournament against Scotland who kept finding the net. Despite his five goals in five matches, Schick missed out on the Golden Boot to Cristiano Ronaldo because the Portugal forward registered one assist, but the 25-year-old Bayer Leverkusen player’s intelligent movement created problems for every opponent.

Forward: Raheem Sterling (England)

England’s most-capped player at Euro 2020 came into the tournament with many questioning his place but ended it with three goals and belated recognition of his importance. He will remain unpopular with some Denmark supporters after the contentious semi-final penalty but was a real contender to win player of the tournament had it not been for Italy’s triumph.

Substitutes Kasper Schmeichel (Denmark), Joakim Mæhle (Denmark), Harry Maguire (England), Marco Verratti (Italy), Mikkel Damsgaard (Denmark), Karim Benzema (France).

Manager: Roberto Mancini (Italy)

Kasper Hjulmand acted with great dignity and galvanised Denmark after the shock of losing Christian Eriksen in their opening match and Gareth Southgate broke England’s hoodoos by beating Germany and reaching the final. Yet the way Mancini reacted to conceding an early goal in the final and transformed the game was more evidence of the former Manchester City manager’s tactical nous.

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