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Euro 2016: Best XI Of The Quarter Finals

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Eight became four over the weekend as Portugal, Wales, Germany and France all booked their places in the semi finals of Euro 2016.

While Portgual and Germany needed penalty shootouts to progress to the last four, Wales and France delivered performances of confidence and composure to ensure that the overall race for the Henri Delaunay trophy is a remarkably open one.

The quarter final weekend saw, among other occurrences, 18 year old Bayern signing Renato Sanches announce his arrival on the international stage, while Itay’s Simone Zaza took one of the worst penalties ever seen at a major tournament in their shootout against Germany.

Ultimately, this is the time when the stars of the tournament should make themselves known, and while some have risen to the challenge, others have thus far failed to step up to the plate.

Here are eleven players who lit up the quarter finals:

Goalkeeper:

Rui Patrício (Portugal)

MARSEILLE, FRANCE - JUNE 30, 2016: Portugal's goalkeeper Rui Patricio makes a save during a penalty series in the 2016 UEFA European Football Championship quaterfinal match against Poland at Stade Velodrome. Portugal won the game in a penalty shootout 1-1 (5-3). Alexander Demianchuk/TASS (Photo by Alexander DemianchukTASS via Getty Images)

In truth, these matches were not the best examples of goalkeepers showcasing their skills. None of the eight keepers involved managed to keep a clean sheet, and while one or two were at fault for at least one goal conceded, this could not be said for the Sporting stopper.

Like Manuel Neuer and Germany, Rui Patrício’s Portugal were victorious in their shootout against Poland. However, the goalkeeper was the hero in this instance as the 28 year old’s save from Kuba Błaszczykowski gave Fernando Santos’ side the win and sent them into the semis without having won a game in 90 minutes at any stage of Euro 2016 so far.

 

Defenders:

Right Back: Łukasz Piszczek (Poland)

Germany's midfielder Thomas Mueller (R) vies for the header with Poland's defender Lukasz Piszczek during the Euro 2016 group C football match between Germany and Poland at the Stade de France stadium in Saint-Denis near Paris on June 16, 2016. / AFP / PATRIK STOLLARZ (Photo credit should read PATRIK STOLLARZ/AFP/Getty Images)

Centre Back: Ashley Williams (Wales)

LILLE, FRANCE - JULY 1: Ashley Williams of Wales celebrates after scoring a goal during the Euro 2016 quarter-final football match between Wales and Belgium at the Stadium Pierre Mauroy in Lille, France on July 1, 2016.

Centre Back: Mats Hummels (Germany)

Mats Hummels

Left Back: Jonas Hector (Germany)

BORDEAUX, FRANCE - JULY 2: Jonas Hector celebrates after scores a penalty shoot during the UEFA Euro 2016 quarter final match between Germany and Italy at Stade de Bordeaux in Bordeaux, France on July 2, 2016.

Łukasz Piszczek of Borussia Dortmund was tasked with the unenviable challenge of keeping Portugal talisman Cristiano Ronaldo quiet – and, to his credit, he achieved just that. He managed to get forward himself on occasion too in what was a frustrating night for Poland.

Ashley Williams has recovered from an error-laden start to grow into this tournament massively. His performance for Wales against Belgium was masterful, and his headed equaliser meant that he played an even greater role in the Welsh recovery from going 1-0 down. Will be a vital player against Portugal on Wednesday.

Germany’s Mats Hummels was as reliable as ever in the heart of an adjusted three-man central defence. However, the yellow card he received will rule him out of the semi-final against France on Thursday.

Jonas Hector has looked very promising at Euro 2016. The Cologne defender was the hero of the hour on Saturday as his penalty proved the winning goal, but even aside from that he handled the shift from attack to defence very well, and kept Alessandro Florenzi quiet on the Italian right hand side.

Midfielders:

Centre Midfield: Renato Sanches (Portugal)

MARSEILLE, FRANCE - JUNE 30: Renato Sanches of Portugal scores at the penalty shootout during the UEFA EURO 2016 quarter final match between Poland and Portugal at Stade Velodrome on June 30, 2016 in Marseille, France. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Centre Midfield: Aaron Ramsey (Wales)

Belgium's midfielder Kevin De Bruyne and Belgium's midfielder Radja Nainggolan (R) challenge Wales' midfielder Aaron Ramsey (C) during the Euro 2016 quarter-final football match between Wales and Belgium at the Pierre-Mauroy stadium in Villeneuve-d'Ascq near Lille, on July 1, 2016. / AFP / DENIS CHARLET (Photo credit should read DENIS CHARLET/AFP/Getty Images)

Attacking Midfield/Number Ten: Gareth Bale (Wales)

LILLE, FRANCE - JULY 01: Wales player Gareth Bale celebrates after the UEFA Euro 2016 Quarter Final match between Wales and Belguim at Stade Pierre-Mauroy on July 1, 2016 in Lille, France. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Wales duo Aaron Ramsey and Gareth Bale were at their imperious best against Belgium. Although neither scored, both were influential throughout. Chris Coleman’s side will have many heroes to thank if they do end up winning this tournament (and even if they don’t), but none more so than these two. Ramsey’s yellow card means he will miss the semi-final, and his absence will be felt.

Everything about Renato Sanches on Thursday, meanwhile, oozed class. Bayern have seen fit to spend over €35m on the 18 year old and it is easy to see why. Strong and quick, with a brilliant goal thrown in, he showed confidence that belied his years and new Bayern manager Carlo Ancelotti can consider himself lucky that the deal to take him to the Allianz Arena is already done.

Forwards:

Right Wing: Antoine Griezmann (France)

Antoine Griezmann

Left Wing: Dimitri Payet (France)

PARIS, FRANCE - JULY 3: Dimitri Payet of France in action during the UEFA Euro 2016 quarter final match between France and Iceland at Stade de France on July 3, 2016 in Saint-Denis near Paris, France. (Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)

Striker: Olivier Giroud (France)

PARIS, FRANCE - JULY 3: Olivier Giroud of France celebrates the fitth goal for his team during the UEFA Euro 2016 quarter final match between France and Iceland at Stade de France on July 3, 2016 in Saint-Denis near Paris, France. (Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)

Without a hint of hyperbole, the French attacking trio of Antonie Griezmann, Dimitri Payet and Olivier Giroud were the best thing about the quarter final ties. They way in which they demolished a hitherto well-organised Iceland side was staggering.

Between them, those three players now have ten goals, as it becomes apparent that the Golden Boot will almost certainly be going to a French player.

Though Payet has been fantastic from day one, the other two have improved as it has worn on – Giroud in particular could do no wrong last night. It puts them in very good stead ahead of Thursday’s decider against Germany.

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Author: The PA Team

This article was written by a member of The PA Team. If you would like to join the team, drop us an email at write@punditarena.com.