Euro 2012: Best XI

This was a tournament that displayed lots of the top talent in the world. There were a number of breakout stars in the tournament including Alan Dzagoev (Russia), Mario Madzukic (Croatia), and Theodor Selassie (Czech Republic). In the end, it was the semifinalists that dominated the my Best XI. Here it is.

Goalkeeper: Iker Casillas (Spain)
Casillas and Buffon were the class goalies of the tournament, but Casillas gets the edge for the historically stingy Spain defense, and he made saves when he was needed including the game against Croatia and the penalty shoot-out against Portugal.

Defender: Joao Pereira (Portugal)
The Portuguese defense was solid and Periera was a bit reason for that. The defender is heading to Valencia next season and seems a bargain based on his displays. He was solid defensively and made some key assists in the game against Netherlands and Czech Republic.

Defender: Pepe (Portugal)
Pepe always seems like a danger to do something crazy, but this tournament saw the reason that he is so highly rated. He was physically commanding, but disciplined as he made timely interventions breaking up passes and starting attacks out of the back.

Defender: Sergio Ramos (Spain)
Ramos was superb the entire tournament and seems to be settling in at centerback. His pace allows him to cover from mistakes and his leaping ability makes his commanding in aerial battles. His cheeky penalty against Portugal was another iconic moment and never put a foot wrong the entire tournament.

Defender: Jordi Alba (Spain)
Alba was definitely a breakout star. His pace was the key for Spain to unlock defenses and his finish in the final was a perfect way to end his tournament. Additionally, he did a good job dealing with opposing wing players and it is scary to think what he will do when he joins Barcelona next season.

Midfielder: Andres Iniesta (Spain)
For me, he was the player of the tournament, which is strange for a player that did not have a single game where he blew everyone away. However, that is what makes Iniesta great. He can control a game quietly and he is consistent as he had strong performances in every game for Spain.

Midfielder: Andrea Pirlo (Italy)
Although he had a poor final against Spain, Pirlo turned back the clock in this tournament. It was no coincidence that his poor performance came in the heavy defeat. Italy had to protect him with other hard-working midfielders but it was worth it as his passing and vision were impressive. He especially shown against England and Germany in the knockout rounds.

Midfielder: David Silva (Spain)
Although Silva seemed to be one of the first substitutions for the Spanish, he was effective scoring two goals and having three assists. His movement and playmaking were critical in a lineup that often did not have a true forward. His opening goal was vital against Italy as it gave Spain the upperhand.

Midfielder: Sami Khedira (Germany)
Khedira was the top of the holding midfielder tournament. He was a workhorse covering lots of space defensively while also making his way into the box and scoring a goal against Greece. He has developed into a true two-way midfielder and made numerous well-timed runs into the box.

Midfielder: Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal)
Much of the early part of the tournament was about his struggles. However, he was never as bad as many people said and other than his misses against Denmark, he had a strong tournament. However, the two goals against Netherlands seemed to free him and he brought his club performances to the national team as two defenders always were required to contain him.

Forward: Mario Balotelli (Italy)
Balotelli had an interesting tournament. He showed far more maturity, but still was not inconsistent. His performance against Germany was his top performance, but struggled in the first meeting against Spain. Despite that, he was the best of the forwards, who in general had inconsistent tournaments. Overall, he showed greater maturity than he ever has and for Italy and Manchester City that is a great sign.

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