Pepe

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.

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Liverpool 0-3 Real Madrid (Ronaldo ’23, Benzema ’30, ’41)

Reigning champions Real Madrid kept up their 100% start to this season’s Champions League campaign thanks to goals from Cristiano Ronaldo and a brace from Karim Benzema.

Ballon d’Or holder Ronaldo set the Galacticos on their way 23 minutes in, capping off a wonderful one-two with James Rodriguez, letting the ball bounce before beating a despairing Simon Mignolet inside the box with an accomplished finish.

Benzema doubled the visitors’ lead on the half hour mark with a looping header from Toni Kroos’ cross, leaving Mignolet stranded in the Liverpool goal once again.

The French forward netted his second of the tie four minutes before the break when he bundled in a badly defended corner. Pepe scrambled the set piece into the path of the 27-year-old to end the contest before half time.

Phillipe Coutinho came closest for the hosts with a rasping drive in the first half that rattled the post but did not find the net to the relief of the under fire Goalkeeper Iker Casillas.

Ronaldo, the ex Manchester United star who scored his first ever goal at the home of their arch rivals tonight, was keen to silence the boo boys during the 90 minutes but could not add to his tally, shooting wide on one occasion and was denied by Mignolet on a few occasions.

He was replaced later on in the second half by Sami Khedira with Carlo Ancelotti clearly having one eye on Saturday’s El Clasico which promises to be an exciting occasion on Saturday evening.

Liverpool: Mignolet, Johnson, Lovren, Skrtel, Moreno, Gerrard, Allen, Henderson (Can ’67), Coutinho (Markovic ’67), Sterling, Balotelli (Lallana ’45)

Subs not used: Jones, Toure, Manquillo, Lambert

Real Madrid: Casillas, Arbeloa, Varane, Pepe, Marcelo (Nacho ’85), Kroos (Illaramendi ’82), Modric, Ronaldo (Khedira ’65), Isco, James, Benzema

Subs not used: Navas, Carvajal, Medran, Hernandez

UEFA Super Cup report: Real Madrid 2-0 Sevilla

Real Madrid carried on their success in Europe by overcoming La Liga rivals Sevilla 2-0 in the UEFA Super Cup with Cristiano Ronaldo providing both the goals.

Homecoming hero Gareth Bale played the full 90 minutes at the Cardiff City stadium and provided the assist for the game’s first goal.

Fans in Cardiff were also treated to the debuts of the latest Real Madrid Galacticos Toni Kroos and James Rodriguez.

Ronaldo opened the scoring when he turned in Bale’s cross with half an hour played at the Cardiff City stadium.

Ballon d’Or holder Ronaldo doubled Madrid’s lead and his tally for the night four minutes into the second half after being played in by Karim Benzema, taking one touch and firing a shot that was too hot for Beto to handle from just inside the box.

Numero Uno: Bale returned to his home city but Ronaldo was the centre of attention.

Numero Uno: Bale returned to his home city but Ronaldo was the centre of attention

Scorer almost turned provider on the 64 minute mark when Ronaldo teed up Benzema but the French forward saw his shot saved by Beto.

James Rodriguez almost had the dream introduction to life at Madrid but his teed up volley was wonderfully saved and out for a corner which came to nothing.

Sevilla were largely outplayed by their Spanish counterparts but did create some sniffs of goal themselves, Vitolo being the first to trouble the Madrid goal but the midfielder had his shot from a tight angle palmed away by Iker Casillas.

Casillas was keen to restore his reputation as much as possible following a dreadful World Cup and was equal to Daniel Carrico’s effort ten minutes before the break following a defensive mix up.

Substitute Diogo Figueiras came closest late on though when his volley whistled wide of Casillas’ post.

Bale was denied the goal he would have wanted on his return to his native Wales but his shot, the last kick of the same, was theatrically kept out by Beto.

Real Madrid: Casillas, Carvajal, Pepe, Ramos, Coentrao (Marcelo ’84), Kroos, Modric (Illarramendi ’86), James (Isco ’72), Bale, Ronaldo, Benzema

Subs not used: Navas, Varane, Arbeloa, Di Maria

Sevilla: Beto, Fazio, Navarro, Pareja, Coke (Figueiras ’84), Krychowiak, Carrico, Suárez (Reyes ’79), Vitolo, Parreu (Aspas ’66), Bacca

Subs not used: Barbosa, Samerio, Iborra, Luismi

Man of the match: Cristiano Ronaldo

Germany 4-0 Portugal: Germans ease past Portugal.

A typically ruthless Germany side cast aside Portugal 4-0 but the game was overshadowed by a moment of madness by Pepe.

The Brazilian born defender was involved in an innocuous challenge with Thomas Müller who threw himself to the floor with minimal contact. Pepe took exception to this in typical Pepe style and aimed a headbutt at the Bayern Munich forward while he was down and was sent off.

Germany struck an early lead when Mario Götze was brought down in the box by João Pereira the spot-kick was dispatched by Müller with ruthless German efficiency to Rui Patricio’s right for the first of his three goals. Pereira only received a yellow card for his offense but probably should have seen red as he denied a clear goal-scoring opportunity.

Sami Khedira could have struck gold for Germany before that when after eight minutes, a dreadful clearance by Patricio landed at the feet of the Real Madrid midfielder but he shot just wide from a long way out.

The second wasn’t too far away though. A magnificent pass from Toni Kroos found its way to Mesut Özil who cut it back to Götze whose shot was deflected wide by Bruno Alves.

Kroos’ resulting corner was powerfully headed in by Mats Hummels in the 32nd minute.

Spot on: Müller puts Germany ahead.

Spot on: Müller puts Germany ahead.

It was 3-0 soon after when, following the red card, Portugal were exposed at the back, Müller took a touch before firing past Patricio’s from twelve yards after another Kroos delivery.

Müller bagged his hattrick twelve minutes from time when substitute Andre Schürrle’s cross shot was parried by Patricio into the path of Müller who had the simple task of prodding home from all of about four yards.

Portugal were disappointing throughout and Cristiano Ronaldo did little to inspire his colleagues and had limited service, even less so when they were down to ten men.

He did however test Manuel Neuer with one his trademark free-kicks in added time but could not get his goal.

A truly miserable day for Portugal was compounded with Fábio Coentrão tearing a muscle when going in for a challenge, he was subbed straight away and his tournament future looks in doubt.