Toni Kroos

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.

Euro 2016 Team of the Group Stage

Goalkeeper: Michael McGovern (Northern Ireland)

International tournaments are a great way for lesser-known players to advertise themselves on the big stage and no-one has made the most of this quite like Michael McGovern.

McGovern is currently a free agent after leaving Scottish Premiership outfit Hamilton when his contract expired and should have no problem finding a new club due to his outing at the Euros.

Northern Ireland’s goalkeeper has made the second highest amount of saves (16) in the three games he has played and half of them (eight) came in the Germany game where impressively the Green and White Army only succumbed to a 1-0 loss, thanks to McGovern.

Right-back: Elseid Hysaj (Albania)

The 24-team Euros has allowed players from unfashionable European nations to shine, it is a shame we will see no more of Albania and their right-back Elseid Hysaj who has been a shining light in an average team.

Albania finished as one of the six third-placed teams but their goal difference of minus two led to them being one of the unfortunate pair, alongside Turkey, who did not do enough to secure a place in the last 16 of the competition.

Hysaj, who plays his club football in Serie A for Napoli, came into his own though, he defended well and was key for Albania going forward too. In the 1-0 loss to Switzerland he played a sensational through ball to Armando Siduku who fired straight at the keeper and similar occurred just over a week later when Ermir Lenjani blasted over the bar from point-blank range when picked out by Hysaj.

Centre back: Leonardo Bonucci (Italy)

Isn’t it great when a team lives up to the stereotype? Italy, the ‘tournament team you should never write off’ that are ‘built on solid defences’, have been, well, the typically efficient side that have been built on a solid defence that punish teams on the counter-attack.

Leonardo Bonucci, who is a serious target for Chelsea – the team Italy boss Antonio Conte will manage at the end of the Euros, has been the true rock and leader of the traditional sturdy Azzurri.

Bonucci even played a part in one of the goals of the championship to this point as well. A sensational directed ball landed at the feet of Emanuele Giaccherini with the most pinpoint precision and the ex-Sunderland winger was left with the simple task of tucking home past Thibaut Courtois.

Centre back: Jerome Boateng (Germany)

It takes a special defender to prevent a near-certain goal from going in but that is exactly what Jerome Boateng did, but that is what Jerome Boateng is.

Germany had taken an early lead in their Group C opener against Ukraine but looked certain to concede when the Bayern Munich deflected a cross towards his own goal but somehow the 27-year-old adjusted his body and cleared the ball away from danger.

Boateng did not put a foot wrong in the 0-0 draw with Poland or the 1-0 win over Northern Ireland either. Germany are one of only two teams to have not conceded a goal yet at Euro 2016.

Left-back: Jordi Alba (Spain)

Jordi Alba truly burst onto the scene with his dazzling displays at the last Euros and if he carries on in this vain, he will be among the nominees for the top player prize again without a doubt.

Alba’s best showing so far included a wonderful assist that lead Spain’s second goal that meant they had got into an unassailable lead against Turkey.

Centre midfielder: Andres Iniesta (Spain)

At Euro 2012, Spain won their third trophy in a row and Andres Iniesta was crowned the Player of the Tournament, four years later, he is at it again.

It took La Roja 87 minutes to break down the Czech Republic but the defensive tactic of the Czechs allowed Iniesta to caress the Stadium Municipal in Toulouse, and it was indeed him that finally unlocked the opposition defence with a floated delivery that Gerard Pique converted to get the Spanish out of jail.

The Turkey game four days later was even easier for Iniesta and it was the Barcelona playmaker the provided perhaps the highlight of the match, a defence-splitting pass that set club and country colleague Jordi Alba on his way to square in a cross for Alvaro Morata to convert.

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 has not let up this summer.

In Germany’s opening encounter, Kroos made 112 passes, five more than Ukraine’s top three passers combined and set up Shkodran Mustafi’s header from a free-kick in what was a real sight to behold – one of the world’s best having a stroll in the park.

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

Centre midfielder: Luka Modric (Croatia)

Kroos has not been the only Real Madrid centre midfielder to shine at these Euros, Luka Modric has made a serious impression as well.

Modric originally made an impact on the Euros when his dipping volley beat Turkish goalkeeper Volkan Babacan all ends up and during that game he also made more passes and had more touches than any other man on the pitch.

Croatia are normally considered ‘dark horses’ , but thanks to the likes of Modric they won Group D ahead of Spain and now, thanks to being on a kinder half of the tournament table, they may well go all the way.

Right forward: Dmitri Payet (France)

Dmitri Payet may have scored the goal of the tournament on the night it all kicked off and it was justified after a really bright evening for the West Ham man.

France were understandably cagey in their first game, but Payet made things happen. Olivier Giroud scored a trademark header as a result of a superb cross from him and then the free-kick master proved he was just as good in normal play as he smacked a bending shot past a despairing Ciprian Tatarusanu as the game entered the 90th minute to give the hosts an opening day win.

Payet then sealed a 2-0 victory against Albania, scoring again in second-half stoppage time. The winger was only used as a substitute in the 0-0 draw with fellow Group A qualifiers Switzerland but hit the bar with a rasping effort just moments after coming on.

Striker: Alvaro Morata (Spain)

It took a long while for the Euros to start seeing plenty of goals, especially from strikers, but after a poor first game against the Czech Republic, Morata remembered where the back of the net was.

Morata, who recently re-joined Real Madrid after they activated his buy-back clause from Juventus, was the first player to score more than once in a match when he netted a brace in Spain’s dominant 3-0 win over Turkey.

Croatia felt the brunt of him too in the final round of group games when he tapped in the opener. Morata is currently the joint-top goalscorer at Euro 2016.

Left forward: Ivan Perisic (Croatia)

Initially, Ivan Perisic got people talking for being a winger who was unorthodoxly sporting the number four for Croatia, but now his football is the sole focus, and with good reason.

After just two games, he has a pair of goals and one assist to his name as Croatia somewhat unexpectedly topped Group C ahead of one of the pre-tournament favourites, Spain.

Perisic exploded onto the tournament with an accurate effort into Petr Cech’s far post after a cheeky step-over in Croatia’s 2-2 draw with the Czech Republic and then he was the star of the show against Spain. Nikola Kalinic’s goal came about as a result of a Perisic cross and then the Inter Milan forward put himself on the back pages with an 87th-minute winner.

 

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 1-0 Argentina (AET): Gotze goal wins the World Cup for Germany

Germany became the first European team to win the World Cup on South American soil with a 1-0 win over Argentina in the Maracana. A late Mario Gotze goal deep into extra time ended 24 years of hurt.

A deft touch from 22-year-old Gotze settled the final when he chested down substitute Andre Schurrle’s cross before dinking the ball past Golden Glove nominee Sergio Romero in the 113th minute.

Argentina had chances of their own in normal time and thought they had taken the lead on the half hour when Gonzalo Higuain turned in Ezequiel Lavezzi’s cross but the Napoli striker was denied by the linesman’s flag.

Higuain should have put the Argentines infront nine minutes earlier but spooned a volley horribly wide after a poor back header from Toni Kroos.

Rodrigo Palacio had an even better opportunity seven minutes into the first period of extra time but could only direct his lob wide of Manuel Neuer’s post after Mats Hummels missed Marcos Rojo’s cross field pass.

Die Mannschaft were not far way themselves in the first half when Schurrle’s snapshot was wonderfully saved by Romero after Thomas Muller’s pull back from the left. Romero’s save even more impressive as a German forward was blocking his way.

They came closest when Benedikt Howedes’ header rattled the post following Kroos’ corner. The ball landed at the feet of Muller who was ruled offside but Romero was there to smother anyway.

Golden Gotze Goal: Mario Gotze wins the World Cup for Germany.

Golden Gotze Goal: Mario Gotze wins the World Cup for Germany.

Lionel Messi failed to reach his best yet again and will rue his best shooting chance that arrived two minutes into the second half – dragging a shot wide after being played in by Lucas Biglia.

Kroos could have won the game for Germany in normal time but hit a wasteful shot wide after being set up by Schurrle.

Schurrle himself had the chance to win the final for Joachim Loew’s side, his stinging shot one minute into the extra time period was straight at Romero however.

The game did have its ugly stages though, first Neuer clattered HIguain in a 50-50 challenge that almost resembled Harald Schumacher and Patrick Battiston’s clash in 1982 and left Higuain out cold for a short period. The Argentine was penalised.

Sergio Aguero was perhaps lucky to stay on the pitch himself after being involved in a nasty collision with Bastian Schweinsteiger that left the Bayern Munich midfielder bleeding.

It is Germany who are world champions though for the first time since 1990 – where they beat Argentina in the final.

 

 

Brazil 1-7 Germany: Hosts humiliated as Germany in seventh heaven

Miroslav Klose became the all time top goalscorer in World Cup history as Germany are the first team to secure their spot in the 2014 Final with a thumping 1-7 win over hosts Brazil.

Thomas Muller and Sami Khedira also netted while Toni Kroos and substitute Andre Schurrle both scored a brace in one of the worst nights in Brazil’s fabled history.

Muller opened the scoring when he hit a side footed volley past Julio Cesar from Bastian Schweinsteiger’s corner just eleven minutes in.

Golden Boot candidate Muller, 24, was unmarked in the box and it was a sign of things to come as Brazil’s defense was lackadaisical throughout.

Thiago Silva missed the game through suspension and Germany were quick to test out the new partnership of Dante and stand-in skipper David Luiz and exposed it to maximum effect.

Klose netted his record breaking goal with 23 minutes played after a neat passing move from the Germans. Kross picked out Muller who laid it back to Klose, his initial shot was saved but the Lazio striker had no problem converting the rebound for 0-2.

Marcelo and Fernandinho the men to blame for the goal, Mesut Ozil and Phillip Lahm had little trouble on the left to work it to Kroos while Fernandinho missed the vital interception that gave the Bayern play-maker the space to orchestrate the play.

Not even Klose: Miroslav Klose scores Germany second to become the finest marksmen in World Cup history.

Not even Klose: Miroslav Klose scores Germany’s second to become the finest marksmen in World Cup history as Brazil are thrashed.

Full back Marcelo was suspect again for the third that arrived just seconds after too. Ozil and Lahm again enjoying the space on the left, Lahm found Kroos with a pinpoint cross that was smashed home first time. Cesar got a hand to it but to no avail.

Germany ran rampant in Belo Horizonte and added a fourth only a minute later – the most embarrassing of the lot. Stupid, careless passing finished with Fernandinho losing the ball cheaply to Kroos who played in Khedira who unselfishly squared it back to Kroos for a simple tap in.

The wait for the fifth wasn’t too long either, three minutes after number four went in, Germany added to their rout with a carbon copy of the previous strike. Former Real Madrid teammates Khedira and Ozil with a one-two that the current Galactico slotted in.

179 seconds separated Germany’s second goal from their fifth.

Joachim Loew’s side didn’t let up in the second half either, Schurrle converted Lahm’s low cross for six. Again Marcelo outdone on the left, again Luiz failing to organise his back four like the absent Silva does so well.

A bad night for Luiz continued to get worse when his former Chelsea colleague Schurrle added his second and Germany’s seventh.

The £50 million PSG man rampaged forward as he so often did throughout the course of the game and ended up being caught out again this time by long, direct Jerome Boateng throw in that Muller flicked on to the path of Schurrle who beat Cesar at his near post with a half volley that went in off the underside of the bar.

Oscar did hit back with a the most worthless consolation goal. Brazil broke following a poor miss from Ozil, Oscar escaped through the middle, sidestepped the last defender and buried the shot.

It was Brazil’s joint worst ever defeat and the biggest margin of victory ever in a World Cup Semi Final.

Brazil fans expected their players to return as heroes but instead they go back humbled as Deutschland are in dreamland.

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.