The curtains closed on Euro 2016 on Sunday as a tenacious Portugal struck late to beat France to be crowned Kings of Europe. Now, SASoccermag takes a look back at the tournament’s best XI.
Goalkeeper – Rui Patricio
The Portugal stopper enjoyed a superb tournament between the sticks for the champions as he produced a succession of top-notch performances, including a starring role in the final. Patricio conceded just one goal in the knockout round of the tournament and proved essential to Portugal’s resoluteness.
Left Back – Raphael Guerreiro
Guerreiro proved an important player for Portugal as he smothered the threat of opposition wingers. Showing excellent toughness and mobility, the player was adept at closing down the opposition’s space while proving difficult to shake off when taken on. Guerreiro stifled scores of chances over the course of the tournament.
Centre Back – Jose Fonte
Fonte was another key player in Portugal’s success as his quick covering and excellent reading of the game helped frustrate the opposition sides. Fonte, playing in the heart of the Portuguese defence, also helped ward off aerial threats as he took advantage of his size to clear.
Centre Back – Ashley Williams
Ashely Williams was superb as he helped take surprise package Wales all the way to the semi-finals. Displaying great resolve and inspirational leadership, the Welsh captain’s hardy defensive displays were complimented by a crucial goal, which he scored against a star-studded Belgium side to propel Wales onward.
Right Back – Bacary Sagna
Bacary Sagna was a pillar of strength at the back for France throughout the tournament. The defender proved more than comfortable venturing forward to participate in the French build-up play, while his excellent reading of the game and phenomenal toughness helped him suffocate numerous threats down the right flank.
Central Midfielder – Renato Sanches
Youngster Renato Sanches justified the hype as his breakthrough into the Portuguese side coincided with a marked improvement in their performances. The 18-year-old proved key in spreading the ball and breaking up the opposition play. Sanches also grabbed a crucial goal as he netted Portugal’s equaliser against Poland.
Central Midfielder – Toni Kroos
Kroos proved imperious in the centre of the park for Germany as he kept possession ticking over for his side, thereby helping the Germans dominate every match they played. Although he failed to grab a goal for his side, Kroos was key in helping his side maintain control of the midfield, while he orchestrated scores of German attacks from deep.
Left Wing – Dimitri Payet
Dimitri Payet was the star of the opening few rounds of the tournament as his crossing, trickery, and shots from distance created all sorts of problems for the opposition. The Frenchman tired as the tournament wore on, however, but was still the most impressive winger overall as he notched three goals en route to the final.
Right Wing – Mesut Ozil
Though more accustomed to playing in a central position, Ozil was asked to play out wide by Joachim Low; and duly excelled. Ozil’s guile and incisive passing ability helped create numerous chances for the Germans, while the 27-year-old also managed a goal as Germany edged Italy in the quarter-finals.
Second Striker – Antoine Griezmann
Arguably the most impressive player at Euro 2016, Griezmann excelled playing just behind the central striker. Often dropping deep to link up play, the agile and speedy star was miles and away the top scorer in the tournament as notched six goals, including doubles in wins over Ireland and Germany.
Centre Forward – Cristiano Ronaldo
Though he wasn’t at his best for large parts of the tournament, Ronaldo nevertheless made several essential contributions in Portugal’s triumph. The superstar, playing as a roving No 9, almost single-handedly dragged his side through the group stage with a double against Hungary, before breaking Welsh resolve with a powerful header in the semis.