Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughTeam of Euro 2012 - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough Team of Euro 2012 - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

Team of Euro 2012

Another successful tournament draws to a close and one that saw Spain make history, becoming the first team to win three successive major international tournaments. Prior to Euro 2012, stories began to surface regarding racism being rife in both Poland and Ukraine, theories that proved untrue as both countries put on a superb tournament. The football on hand was spectacular and, as a result, Euro 2012 will go down as one of the greatest international competitions in recent memory.

With it, came stunning individual performances from players from the 16 representing nations and, as a result, below is my Team of Euro 2012. Playing a 4-3-3, it reads as follows:

Gianluigi Buffon – Italy

At 34 years of age, some wouldn’t be wrong in thinking Gianluigi Buffon would start to show signs of slowing as he grows older. However, the Italy captain, on the back-end of a title winning campaign with Juventus, proved to the watching world that he still is a goalkeeper on top of his game. Spectacular in between the sticks, the back-line was confident enough to rely on ‘Gigi’ to provide a solidified last line of defence and he was part of the reason the Azzuri reached the final. His performances didn’t warrant being on the receiving end of a 4-0 thumping at the hands of Spain in the last game of the tournament.

Mathieu Debuchy – France

The Lille star came into the tournament with high hopes and didn’t fail to disappoint. Mathieu Debuchy was a shining star in a somewhat disappointing France campaign. Attacking with intent from right-back and defending admirably when called upon, interest in Debuchy would surely have risen throughout the duration of the tournament. A poor performance against Spain in the quarter-finals would have done little to dampen interest in the 26-year-old, who has been linked with a move to the Premier League.

Sergio Ramos – Spain

Despite regularly playing right-back for the national side, Sergio Ramos was called upon to fill the void left by the injured Carles Puyol. Although the Real Madrid star and team-mate Gerard Pique both got off to a shaky start, the pairing grew into the tournament to form a formidable partnership. Showing superb athleticism and providing a perfect defensive shield for goalkeeper Iker Casillas, Ramos was vital to the Spain side that created history in Poland and Ukraine.

Mats Hummels – Germany

The Borussia Dortmund defender was instrumental for Germany this summer in their path to the semi-final. An injury to Per Mertesacker ensured Mats Hummels would start Euro 2012 partnering Holger Badstuber in defence. The 23-year-old repaid the faith shown in him by head coach Joachim Low with a series of superb performances in Die Mannschaft. His ability to read the game and positional sense saw him only commit his first foul in the first half of the semi-final defeat to the Azzuri.

Jordi Alba – Spain

Like Debuchy, Jordi Alba came into the tournament with high expectations and didn’t disappoint. Having made just five caps prior to Euro 2012, many were apprehensive as to whether he would be able to handle the pressure. However, he took to the squad like a duck to water and was, comfortably, the best left-back of the competition. Having recently moved to Barcelona, presumably as a replacement for Eric Abidal, he will fit seamlessly into the system at the Camp Nou.

Andres Iniesta – Spain

‘The Solution Man’ as Graham Hunter dubbed him in his book Barca: The making of the greatest team in the world, Andres Iniesta proved to be just that for Spain. The midfielder may not have found the net in normal time throughout the tournament, but was essential to Spain’s progress to the final. As part of the six-man midfield that Vicente Del Bosque employed, Iniesta was sensational breaking forward from deep and supporting the likes of Cesc Fabregas and David Silva. Rightly awarded UEFA Player of the Tournament.

Andrea Pirlo – Italy

With his displays in the heart of the Italy midfield, many of the English pundits acted as though Andrea Pirlo was a youngster lighting up the tournament. However, at 33-years-old, the Juventus schemer is experienced on the international stage, racking up 89 caps for the Azzuri. With Italy heading into the tournament on the back-end of another match fixing scandal, it had been expected they would crash out at the group stage. Yet, with Pirlo pulling the strings in the middle of the park, Cesare Prandelli’s side exceeded expectations to reach the final. Will forever be remembered the Panenka penalty against England in the quarter-finals.

Joao Moutinho – Portugal

Cruelly underappreciated by some, with Cristiano Ronaldo often stealing the headlines, Joao Moutinho was the man that made things tick for Portugal. Finishing Euro 2012 with a pass completion of 82%, it was hardly surprising to see the FC Porto star at the hub of creativity for the national side. Calm on the ball and able to play anywhere across the midfield, it is hardly surprising to see interest high in the 25-year-old following the summer.

Cristiano Ronaldo – Portugal

Moutinho may have worked his magic in the middle of the park, but it was Cristiano Ronaldo’s goals that saw Portugal reach the semi-finals of Euro 2012. Much hype had been made about the Real Madrid prior to the tournament following an excellent season with Los Blancos. However, after the first two games, scoring zero goals, many believed it was another tournament that Ronaldo would fail to turn up to. He turned it around in the 3-1 win over Holland and netted the winning goal over Czech Republic in the quarter-finals.

Mario Mandzukic – Croatia

With more being made of compatriot Nikica Jelavic prior to the tournament, Mario Mandzukic was the one that quietly went about his business in the 3-1 win over Republic of Ireland. Netting twice against the Irish, and once more in the 1-1 draw with Italy, the 26-year-old helped alleviate the pressure from the Everton striker and Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Luka Modric. Comfortable as either the target man or in the number 10 role, his performances warranted his spot in my team of Euro 2012. Recently signed for Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich.

Antonio Cassano – Italy

Where it was Mario Balotelli stealing the headlines with his double over Germany, Antonio Cassano was the man supporting the Manchester City striker. Exceptional alongside the young Italian, it’s hard to believe Cassano required heart surgery earlier this year after suffering a stroke. Finding space expertly between the opposition midfield and defence, he caused numerous problems when pushing forward and was superb supporting Balotelli in the front-line.

Cesare Prandelli – (Coach, Italy)

Vicente Del Bosque would have been the easy choice for coach of the tournament, having re-written history twice. However, Cesare Prandelli takes the prize for this accolade. As mentioned, Italy came into the tournament on the backend of another match fixing scandal. Back-to-back defeats in the build up to Euro 2012 saw the Azzuri written off at the beginning, but Prandelli got Italy playing like a team rather than a nation. Taking them to the final, only to be beaten by eventual winners Spain in Ukraine, goes to show the capabilities of the former Fiorentina boss.

Players that could’ve made the cut:

Bastian Schweinsteiger

Joao Pereira

Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Daniel Agger

Mario Gomez


Xabi Alonso

Jakub Blaszczykowski

Vicente Del Bosque (coach)