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Euro 2020 | Here's our Best XI...
Off The Ball Radio

Euro 2020 | Here's our Best XI of the tournament

Enda Coll
Enda Coll

17:35 13 Jul 2021

Euro 2020 has reached its unwanted conclusion and with the summer of insanely dramatic football coming to a conclusion, OTB Sports' Enda Coll has sat down to pick his Best XI from the tournament."

It has been a summer to remember. Maybe it was because of what has gone on in the last two years, but that tournament did not disappoint.

From the spine-tingling opening ceremony with Andrea Bocelli, to the drama of the penalty shoot-out in the final, it had everything. Of course, now is the time for reflection and time to choose who we all thought stood out.

Firstly, if I were to factor in matters outside of football, the entire Denmark team would make the list for even carrying on in the tournament, much less getting to the semi-final.

However, I havee selected a team made up of the players I feel stood-out in pure football terms, throughout the tournament. This is my team of the tournament.

Formation - 3-4-3

GOALKEEPER

Gianluigi Donnarumma - Italy

This tournament felt like a coming of age for the Italian goalkeeper. The official Player of the Tournament was also young enough to qualify for Young Player of the Tournament too. Donnarumma has been a mainstay at AC Milan for several years now, but now he is Italy’s main man. The time of Gianluigi Buffon is over, the time of Gianluigi Donnarumma has begun.

DEFENDERS 

euro 2020

Leonardo Bonucci - Italy 

“It’s coming to Rome” Bonucci screamed into the camera at full-time of the Euro 2020 final. His goal had cancelled out Luke Shaw’s opener and he slotted home his penalty with the calmness not shown by many of the forwards on the night. Bonucci was a master throughout the tournament, mixing outstanding defending with top-class football.

Giorgio Chiellini - Italy

“He would kill his granny to win a match”, the great John Giles once said about his teammate Bobby Collins. There are very few players remaining that you could say this about. Giorgio Chiellini is one of them. The greatest example of this was in the final when he pulled Bukayo Saka to the ground. No hesitation, no remorse. He always does what’s needed.

Luke Shaw - England

This is the Luke Shaw we’ve been waiting for. Carrying on from a brilliant club campaign with Manchester United, Shaw was one of the stand-out players for England throughout. Constantly an option going forward, getting inside to create space and defensively solid too.

MIDFIELD

Right wing-back

Kyle Walker - England 

There are a few options I could have squeezed into this position, but in the interests of keeping players in their actual positions, it is hard to look past Kyle Walker. Despite clear flaws in parts of his game, Walker played an undeniably key role in England’s push to the final.

His recovery speed and physicality to match most forwards at the tournament allowed England to hold a higher line in defence. It also gave John Stones and Harry Maguire freedom to burst out into midfield with the ball to create an overload.

Left wing-back

Leonardo Spinazzola - Italy 

There’s always a surprise package at major tournaments and Spinazzola was it. All you need to do is compare Italy’s performance with him to without him. A constant threat going forward, a link between defence and attack, and in general, just a very exciting player to watch. Brave in possession, always willing to take his man on; the fact he didn’t get a chance to play in the final was one of the disappointments of the tournament.

Central midfield

euro 2020 Italy's Jorginho scores the winning penalty during the penalty shootout during the Euro 2020 soccer semifinal match between Italy and Spain at Wembley stadium in London, Tuesday, July 6, 2021. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein, Pool)

Jorginho - Italy 

An enigma for many, Jorginho proved his doubters wrong in the strongest possible way this year. Ending his season with a Champions League and European Championship medal, there can be no doubting his ability anymore. Alongside Verratti, Jorginho thrived in his deep-lying playmaker role at this tournament. Jorginho made the joint-most ball recoveries (46), won the most fouls (18), played the most minutes of any outfield player (705), and set a record for the most interceptions made at a single European Championship tournament (25) since such data became available in 1980. Outstanding.

Pedri - Spain

For most people, this was the tournament when Phil Foden would explode. For others, it would be the crowning moment for Kylian Mbappe. But it was Spanish youngster Pedri who stood out as the best young player at the tournament. The first player to be labelled ‘the new Xavi’ to actually look like it. The 18-year-old’s standout performance came in the semi-final against Italy, when he completed 65 of his 66 passes in 120 minutes of football. Well deserving of the Young Player of the Tournament award.

FORWARDS

Federico Chiesa - Italy

A toss-up between Mikkel Damsgaard and Chiesa, I went with my gut feeling. Damsgaard played some brilliant football at Euro 2020, but in terms of sheer excitement, Chiesa was nailed on for me. His directness in possession was refreshing to watch, he also scored two brilliant and important goals. As well as that, his willingness to receive the ball helped sway the tide in the final.

Patrik Schick - Czech Republic

Euro 2020 had no shortage of great forwards and certainly looking in, Schick would have been an unobvious choice for the golden boot. The Czech led the line brilliantly in the group stages, right the way through to their quarter-final defeat to Denmark. He was also the scorer of one of the greatest goals in European Championships history.

euro 2020 England's Raheem Sterling celebrates after scoring his side's opening goal during the Euro 2020 soccer championship group D match between England and Croatia at Wembley stadium in London, Sunday, June 13, 2021. (Glyn Kirk/Pool Photo via AP)

Raheem Sterling - England 

There are plenty of decisions Gareth Southgate will be criticised for in the aftermath of this Euros, but sticking his faith in Raheem Sterling won’t be one of them. Despite a year in the wilderness at Manchester City, Southgate trusted the man who had scored important goals for him in the past, and it paid off. Sterling was a constant threat on the ball and off it too, stretching defences and causing havoc inside the opposition box. It was the Sterling of old at this tournament.

UEFA TEAM OF THE TOURNAMENT

Goalkeeper
Gianluigi Donnarumma (Italy)

Defenders
Kyle Walker (England)
Leonardo Bonucci (Italy)
Harry Maguire (England)
Leonardo Spinazzola (Italy)

Midfielders
Pierre-Emile Højbjerg (Denmark)
Jorginho (Italy)
Pedri (Spain)

Forwards
Federico Chiesa (Italy)
Romelu Lukaku (Belgium)
Raheem Sterling (England)

UEFA's Technical Observers
Packie Bonner, Esteban Cambiasso, Fabio Capello, Cosmin Contra, Corinne Diacre, Jean-François Domergue, Dušan Fitzel, Steffen Freund, Frans Hoek, Aitor Karanka, Robbie Keane, Ginés Meléndez, David Moyes, Mixu Paatelainen, Peter Rudbæk, Willi Ruttensteiner

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England Euro 2020 Euro 2020 Championships Euro 2020 Final Italy Uefa Team Of The Tournament

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