Antoine Griezmann

Euro 2016 Team of the Tournament

Goalkeeper: Rui Patricio (Portugal)

This year’s Euros showcased some of the finest goalkeepers in the world, but the likes of Manuel Neuer, Thibaut Courtois and David De Gea were all outshone by Portugal’s Rui Patricio.

Patricio kept four clean sheets from seven matches – the joint highest amount, and also made the second highest amount of saves (20) at the tournament.

In addition, the Sporting Lisbon stopper made more saves in a Euro final since 1980.

Right-back: Bacary Sagna (France)

Over the last year or so, Bacary Sagna has revitalised his career. The Frenchman has overthrown Pablo Zabaleta to be Manchester City’s first-choice right-back and he used that to his advantage to be one of the top performers at the Euros, too.

Throughout the course of the tournament, Sagna made 38 clearances, seven interceptions and won seven tackles.

Furthermore, Sagna showed his creative side with assists such as the delectable whipped cross that Antoine Griezmann guided in to drag France level against the Republic of Ireland.

Centre back: Pepe (Portugal)

Euro 2016 will probably be remembered as a very defensive tournament, and the best defender on show in France was Portugal’s Pepe.

The Brazilian-born Real Madrid centre back has a reputation for being a hothead but he was composed at the heart of A Selecao’s defence as they shocked everyone to be crowned champions, where Pepe was the Man of the Match in the final.

In the final, Pepe made 17 interceptions, seven defensive headers, won five aerial duels, five blocks and nine tackles.

Centre back: Ashley Williams (Wales)

Much of the talk from the Welsh camp from the word go at the Euros was how much passion the squad possessed and Ashley Williams demonstrated that more than most.

None more so than when he appeared to be injured against the Northern Ireland but refused to be substituted and was then fit to face Belgium a matter of days later.

In said Belgium match he scored to get his country level and then showed guile and, that word, passion, to drag Wales over the line, much like he did in every other game.

Left-back: Raphael Guerreiro (Portugal)

Portugal may have had worries with regards to the left-hand side of their defence ahead of the Euros when Fabio Coentrao was ruled out with injury, but young prodigy Raphael Guerreiro stepped up to the plate and then some.

Like defensive partner Pepe, Guerreiro is not native Portuguese, ironically he was born in France, who Portugal beat in the final, and he looked at home throughout the tournament.

His numbers make for impressive reading: 17 clearances, 14 interceptions, 10 tackles won, eight chances created and one assist and one Young Player of the Tournament nomination for good measure.

Centre midfielder: Aaron Ramsey (Wales)

Prior to Euro 2016 Gareth Bale was often touted as the man that would make Wales tick if they were to make an impact, however it was Aaron Ramsey who really shone.

Ramsey registered the joint highest amount of assists at the Euros with a tally of four, with two of them coming in Wales’ huge win over Belgium to send them to their first ever semi-final.

The Arsenal midfielder was also vital in the 3-0 win over Russia which won Group B for Wales. He scored one goal and assisted another to earn a Man of the Match award.

It wasn't just Ramsey's peroxide blonde hair that stood out at Euro 2016 as his performances lit up the tournament

It wasn’t just Ramsey’s peroxide blonde hair that stood out at Euro 2016 as his performances lit up the tournament

Centre midfielder: Toni Kroos (Germany)

Toni Kroos was one of, if not the, best German performers two years ago as Die Mannschaft became the world champions and the midfield maestro was on top form again two years later.

Kroos bossed the show in Germany’s opening encounter against Ukraine, creating the most chances and notching an assist and he continued to dominate the midfield in every other match like he does all too often.

Bayern Munich must rue the day they let him go to Real Madrid for just £20 million.

Centre midfielder: Renato Sanches (Portugal)

Eyebrows were raised when Bayern Munich announced the signing of 18-year-old Renato Sanches for 35 million Euros but it seems like they have signed up a gem of a player.

Sanches won the Young Player of the Tournament at the Euros for a number of dazzling displays in the middle of the park for Portugal.

He really caught the eye though when he rifled in a sensational strike against Poland and it may go down as the moment he announced himself onto the European stage.

Right winger: Dmitri Payet (France)

Dmitri Payet got the Euros off to an electrifying start with a last-gasp winner against Romania with a thumping effort and carried on in the same vein as hosts France went all the way to the final.

Payet then sealed a 2-0 victory against Albania, scoring again in second-half stoppage time and almost broke the deadlock in the 0-0 draw against Switzerland despite only coming on as a second-half substitute.

The West Ham man was hugely influential in the 5-2 demolition of Iceland to boot and he ended his summer with three goals and two assists.

DP

Striker: Antoine Griezmann (France)

It took Griezmann longer than expected to make a serious impact on Euro 2016, but once he found his scoring touch, it took something special to stop him.

Griezmann only managed one goal in his first three games in the Group Stages and it looked like the pre-tournament Golden Boot favourite would have a tournament to forget.

But then he netted two against the Republic of Ireland in the last 16, then he netted against Iceland and he soon had another brace vs Germany to send France to the final.

Left winger: Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal)

At times the egotistical Cristiano Ronaldo was humbled by underwhelming performances, but when it mattered the big man stood up to the occasion.

Ronaldo netted a brace against Hungary when Portugal needed a result to qualify from their group, including one that almost won goal of the tournament, but his showing in the semi-final versus Wales was his best.

He powered in a header to give Portugal the lead shortly after the half-time break and three minutes later Nani turned in a shot of Ronaldo’s to make the result secure.

Top Five Flops Of The Euros So Far

The Group Stage of Euro 2016 has now been and gone, so BenjaminWillsBlog has taken a look at five players who have as yet failed to live up to the pre-tournament hype.

1) Antoine Griezmann – France

When Antoine Griezmann came off the bench to head France into a last-gasp lead against Albania it seemed like the Euros was about to burst into life for one of the continent’s top talents, however it has not yet been the case.

Atletico Madrid’s main man suffered a frustrating 90 minutes on opening night as Olivier Giroud and Dmitri Payet were needed to rescue the hosts and Griezmann was promptly dropped for the Albania game.

His goal got him back in the line-up against Switzerland, but again the Frenchman was ineffective as he has yet to get a proper foothold on this tournament which is underwhelming from a man many backed to win the Golden Boot.

2) Harry Kane – England

Harry Kane has been the top English goalscorer for each of the past two seasons, the current Three Lions squad is attacking and exciting, so, put the two together and you have a perfect blend, right? It would appear not.

At his club, Tottenham Hotspur, boy wonder Kane is used to being the main man, he plays on his own up front for Spurs, but with his country he finds himself deployed as part of a three-man attack and has so far struggled to find his scoring boots due to lack of service and perhaps is not suited to others doing the dirty work for him.

After unexpectedly failing to win Group B England find themselves on the harder half of the tournament table, and Kane will need to remember where the back of the net is if the Three Lions want to make a serious impression on this year’s Euros.

3) Paul Pogba – France

Since 1996, the Player of the Tournament at the European Championships has had two things in common: they were centre midfielders, and their country were crowned champions.

Paul Pogba and France were both tipped for glory this summer, both still might get their crowning glory, but neither have been entirely convincing as yet. The Juventus man has shown flashes of brilliance, in the first-half of France’s 2-1 win over Romania and during the 0-0 draw with Switzerland, but for a man touted as one of the best in the world and expected to command a fee of £70 million, the mercurial midfielder has not quite been firing on all cylinders.

Pogba will need to kick it up a notch if he wants to emulate his childhood hero Zinedine Zidane, who was the best player as France won Euro 2000.

4) Thomas Muller – Germany

The Germans. Ruthless, clinical, efficient, and any other cliche you want to use, none apply to Thomas Muller this summer.

He may only be 26-years-old, but Muller is as experienced as they come. The forward has 32 international goals in 74 caps, and a World Cup winners’ medal, but despite this he has never scored in a Euros, and that stat does not look like being wiped out any time soon.

Muller’s role is that of a Raumdeuter – a ‘space investigator’ in real terms – Mario Gotze as a false nine is supposed to create space for the supporting Muller, but so far the mean defences of Poland, and especially Northern Ireland, have managed to snuff out the Bayern Munich man out, leaving him ineffective.

5) Robert Lewandowski – Poland

This is new territory for Robert Lewandowski. Since his first season as a professional in the Polish second division with Znicz Pruszkow in 2006-07 he has scored fewer than 15 goals in a campaign only twice, but now when representing his country his magic touch seems to have worn a bit thin.

Lewandowski scored 30 goals in 32 matches for his club, Bayern in the Bundesliga last season and went into the Euros in hot form but after four games in France he has scored no goals and had just the one shot on target.

Despite one of the world’s hottest strikers blowing cold Poland have made it to the quarter-finals, getting on the scoresheet a grand total of three times in the process, but they need their star man to show up sooner rather than later, otherwise a great opportunity for history may go up in smoke.

France 3-0 Honduras

A fiery encounter that will live long in the memory ended 3-0 to favourites France who earned a much deserved win against a physical Honduras side.

Karim Benzema was the star of the show, scoring two goals of his own and was unfortunate to have not claimed another.

France’s second goal of the game was one of the most bizarre in World Cup history. Benzema scoring a placed volley off the inside off the post which went across the goal-line and off the Goalkeeper Noel Valladares and into the net. Or so it seemed.

Benzema appealed to the referee and the goal was given, cue celebrations but when the crowd was shown the replay “no goal” flashed up on the goal-line technology system referring to when the ball hit the post, sparking uproar from Honduras fans, players and coaching staff but more replay showed after the ball hit Valladares it was in fact a goal.

Goal line technology played a vital role in France's second goal.

Goal line technology played a vital role in France’s second goal.

Number nine Benzema bagged his brace when he thundered in a rebound following Mathieu Debuchy’s blocked cannoned shot, Valladares had little chance having just stood up after diving for Debuchy’s drive.

The sub-plot of the first half was Wilson Palacios vs the world with Paul Pogba taking most of the brunt from the brute. Palacios and Pogba both picked up yellow cards when Palacios trampled on the Juventus youngster but Pogba gave as good he got, kicking out at the Stoke man. Both could have easily seen red.

Palacios did receive his marching orders soon after when he clattered into Pogba and gave away a penalty which Benzema dispatched with ease.

Les Blues hit the crossbar twice before that, Blaise Matuidi first after his shot was tipped onto the bar by the ‘keeper following Mathieu Valbuena’s free-kick being headed into his path and then Franck Ribery replacement Antoine Griezmann cracked a header against the woodwork after Patrice Evra’s cross.

Honduras caused little damage to France in terms of goal scoring opportunities with Hugo Lloris not having to make any major saves but the tackling from Luis Suarez’s side may have left a few bruises on French legs, a real horror show from Honduras at times.