Home Football Euro 2016: Our Team of the Tournament XI

Euro 2016: Our Team of the Tournament XI

PARIS, FRANCE - JULY 10: Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal kisses the Henri Delaunay trophy to celebrate after their 1-0 win against France in the UEFA EURO 2016 Final match between Portugal and France at Stade de France on July 10, 2016 in Paris, France. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)

Portugal may have pulled off an unexpected win in Paris on Sunday night but three of their players make our Euro 2016 Team of the Tournament XI.

France, Italy, Wales and Germany are also represented, as well as an honourable mention for Iceland and their management team.

Goalkeeper

Hugo Lloris (France)

PARIS, FRANCE - JULY 10: Hugo Lloris of France looks on during the UEFA EURO 2016 Final match between Portugal and France at Stade de France on July 10, 2016 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)

It’s hard to look past the French skipper for this position. The Tottenham goalkeeper captained his side to the final under enormous pressure from the home crowd but has proven that he can be mentioned among the top tier of goalkeepers over the past few weeks.

At 29, Lloris is hitting his peak and made a number of spectacular saves throughout the tournament to keep France in close games, whilst organising a back four in front of him that only conceded five goals in the entire tournament.

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Defenders

Pepe (Portugal)

Notorious for his indiscipline and sometimes-susceptible defending, the Portuguese defender played his best football at this tournament. Taking control of the team in the final, he successfully led the side to glory in Paris.

Final aside, Pepe’s stats are second to none after the tournament as he features right at the top in terms of blocks, balls recovered and clearances all while keeping his cool and limiting bookings.

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Leonardo Bonucci (Italy)

The Italians were a breath of fresh air in this tournament and that can largely be put down to Juventus defender Leonardo Bonucci. Rumoured to be focus of a £40 million + transfer chase, Bonucci showed why he merits the price tag.

Leading the line for Italy alongside Giorgio Chiellini, Italy conceded just two goals in the entire tournament but where Bonucci stood out was his ball-playing ability, being able to start an attack from defence in a moment.

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Ashley Williams (Wales)

LYON, FRANCE - JULY 06:  Ashley Williams of Wales applauds the supporters after the UEFA EURO 2016 semi final match between Portugal and Wales at Stade des Lumieres on July 6, 2016 in Lyon, France.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

A tough call for the last place in the back line. Any of the Iceland back four deserve a spot in this side and not least a number of Germans and French but the nod goes to Ashley Williams. The Swansea City defender proved that Wales are not just a one-man show and played a pivotal role in helping the minnows in reaching the semi finals.

Williams gave 110% in every minute of the tournament and his statistics rival that of Pepe. An important equaliser against Belgium was the Wales captain’s shining moment, and the reason he just edges in ahead of a number of players.

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Midfielders

Aaron Ramsey (Wales)

Ramsey did just about everything for Wales during the tournament. Playing deep in the midfield, he broke up play and started plenty of quick counter attacks. The Arsenal man was sorely missed in the semi final when Wales lost to eventual champions Portugal, but he provided four assists – the most of anyone in the tournament – and also put a goal to his name in his side’s remarkable run through the tournament.

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Toni Kroos (Germany)

MARSEILLE, FRANCE - JULY 07: Toni Kroos of Germany reacts during the UEFA EURO semi final match between Germany and France at Stade Velodrome on July 7, 2016 in Marseille, France.  (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images)

In a German midfield stacked with talent, Kroos proved again why is the star midfielder for his country. The passing ability of the Real Madrid man is extraordinary and the World Champions played everything through Kroos.

The 26-year-old completed 608 passes throughout the tournament which is over 200 more than his closest competitor and compatriot Jerome Boateng. He was also a mere 47 passes shy of equalling that of the entire Northern Ireland team.

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Gareth Bale (Wales)

If it wasn’t for Antoine Griezmann, Bale could have very well have gone home with the Player of the Tournament award. Although Wales had a number of star performers, there is no doubting that Gareth Bale was their main man.

Scoring three goals along the way and creating the crucial goal that put the Welsh through against Northern Ireland is enough for Bale to merit his place on this side. He caused defenders nightmares throughout the tournament with his talented dribbling and all round playmaking. It’s now easy to see why Real Madrid paid £85m for him.

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Dimitri Payet (France)

LYON, FRANCE - JUNE 26: Dimitri Payet of France in action during the UEFA EURO 2016 round of 16 match between France and Republic of Ireland at Stade des Lumieres on June 26, 2016 in Lyon, France. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Very much the golden boy for France, Payet capped off an unbelievable season with a stellar showing at the Euros. The former Marseille player scored late goals in both of France’s opening two games whilst always looking a threat.

Defenders always looked uneasy when Payet was on the ball and he constantly created chances with his inviting set pieces. Uefa even had the midfielder as their top player in their barometer ratings after the tournament concluded.

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Forwards

Renato Sanches (Portugal)

At just 18 years of age, Renato Sanches can now be given the title of most promising young player on the planet. Scooping the Young Player of the Tournament award after the final, the Portuguese man deserves the gong.

Used as a substitute during the group stages, Sanches was always quick to make an impact off the bench but it was his equaliser against Poland in the quarter finals where he emerged as a star. The teenager, who recently signed for Bayern Munich, could slot in anywhere in the Portugal forward line or midfield and showed he could create chances, run at defences and pass the ball too.

Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal)

PARIS, FRANCE - JULY 10:  Cristiano Ronaldo and manager Fernando Santos look on during the UEFA EURO 2016 Final match between Portugal and France at Stade de France on July 10, 2016 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

How could you not include Ronaldo? Just when you think he is going to decline, he just gets better. Although Portugal proved they are not just a one-man team in the final, without their talisman they would never have been close to winning that trophy.

Dragging his side through the group stages, he didn’t know when to give up against Hungary and scored a truly great goal in the process. Also scoring the opener against Wales in the semi final, Ronaldo led by example throughout the whole tournament.

It was heartbreaking to see him come off early in the final. However, his desire to play on and then run up and down the touchline when he was taken off showed how much this tournament meant to him and how much of a leader he is for his country.

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Antoine Griezmann (France)

Sometimes football isn’t fair – just ask Antoine Griezmann. Runner up at Euro 2016, in the Champions League and only three points off topping the table for Atletico Madrid in La Liga, it has been a tough year for the Frenchman. Finishing with the Golden Boot, Griezmann can take immense pride in the six goals he scored for his country. He also set up two goals along the way.

At 25 years of age, the striker announced himself to the world and was by far and beyond the best player in France this summer. Penning a new deal with Atletico Madrid that will keep him with the club until 2021, it would take a world-record bid for them to even consider selling their talented forward. He may have broken Irish hearts, but we’ll forgive him because he is just that good.

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Manager(s) of the Tournament: Heimir Hallgrímsson & Lars Lagerbäck (Iceland)

PARIS, FRANCE - JUNE 21:  In this handout image provided by UEFA, Iceland Coach Lars Lagerback and assistant coach Heimir Hallgrimsson address the press during a press conference on June 21, 2016 in Paris, France. (Photo by Handout/UEFA via Getty Images)

Chris Coleman can consider himself unlucky on this count but Iceland’s success story captivated the world. Nearly topping their group with five points including a draw against Portugal, Iceland turned out to be a formidable side. They dumped England out of the tournament and outplayed them in the process. The fairytale ended at the hands of France but even at that, an exhausted team from a nation of just 323,000 put up a real fight against the hosts during their 5-2 quarter-final loss.

Darragh Culhane, Pundit Arena

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