SASoccermag looks at the key performers in France and selects the Team of the Group stage at Euro 2016.
Last 16: All the fixtures, venues and kick-off times
EURO 2016: Team of the Group stage (4-3-2-1)
1. Hannes Halldorsson (Iceland) – A player 99% (or more) will not have heard of before but Halldorsson has done extremely well defending Iceland’s last line. Halldorsson leads the way in saves made on 19; with no cleans sheets in the group stage.
2. Darijo Srna (Croatia) – The 34-year-old Croatia captain has been brilliant in France. He has not missed a minute of action and has defended like the pro he is. Fancied by many outsiders for a title tilt, Croatia may well end up in the final if Srna can continue in the same manner he has begun.
3. Jordi Alba (Spain) – Left back is a position where few have shone so far but Alba continues his development into one of the very best in the world.
4. Jerome Boateng (Germany) – The Bayern defender has taken his game to the next level and is now considered to be the leader of the German defence. His ability to play the ball out from the back allows his midfielders the freedom to take a more advanced role, a key aspect of coach Joachim Low’s gameplan.
5. Giorgio Chiellini (Italy) – One of Italy’s veterans has shone in a three-man defence for Antonio Conte. His toughest task will come on Monday against Spain.
6. Eric Dier (England) – The English midfielder has done what many expected of him; he has taken his club from with Tottenham Hotspur into Euro 2016. England have stuttered and stumbled through to the round of 16 after struggling to turn possession into goals but Dier has enhanced his reputation with a couple of solid displays. His goal against Russia has also highlighted that he is more than just a holding midfielder.
7. Andres Iniesta (Spain) – It’s been the Iniesta show for Spain so far in France as the experienced midfielder bailled his sign out against the Czechs before a world class display against Turkey. The Barca star failed to find his teammate on just 6 occasions (99 attempts) and against Croatia, Iniesta misplaced just 7 of his 94 passes proving again that he remains at the very top of his game.
8. Toni Kroos (Germany) – The German midfielder has a 93% pass rate and despite falling out of favour at club side Real Madrid, Kroos continues to be a key player for Low’s German plan.
9. Dimitri Payet (France) – The West Ham playmaker has been in fine form. Payet’s scored some cracking goals and has overshadowed
10. Kevin De Bruyne (Belgium) – The Manchester City star sneaks into this team ahead of the likes of Granit Xhaka, Mario Gotze and Ivan Perisic. De Bruyne has proven all his critics wrong with his high workrate and brilliant passing display so far in France.
11. Gareth Bale (Wales) – Leads the Golden Boot race after dragging Wales through the groups stages. Helped by the in-form Aaron Ramsey, Bale has been on top form for his country as they now stand a great chance of progressing to at least the semi-finals. The longer Bales keeps performing, the longer his nation’s fans will be dreaming of repeating Greece’s heroics in 2004.