JOE writers pick their teams of Euro 2016
The rotting, moth-infested corpse of Euro 2016 isn't even cold yet, but we're already picking at the remains.
It wasn't all bad, you see, and here at JOE we've put together our team of the tournament.
There's just one thing, though. We quite like to argue, so we've each come up with our own XIs and provided our reasons.
We've even been kind enough to include our Twitter handles, so you can tweet us directly to tell us why we're wrong.
Tom Victor (@tomvictor)
With no completely dominant nation, I’ve gone with a relatively even split between the four semi-finalists. It’s probably not too controversial to say that Portugal haven’t been the most inspiring champions the tournament has ever seen, but Raphael Guerreiro has been comfortably better than any other left-back in the tournament.
I’ve only gone with two players knocked out before the semis - Krychowiak was the driving force for a Polish team eliminated without losing a game in 90 minutes, while Bonucci edges out Italian team-mate Giorgio Chiellini for his attacking contributions. Joe Allen gets the second holding midfield berth, as one of two Wales players not called Gareth.
Germany put in the most complete performance of the tournament in their victory over Slovakia, lifting the already impressive Jerome Boateng and Mesut Özil from ‘great’ to ‘excellent’ (even if Özil did miss a penalty in that game, while the XI is rounded out by three Frenchmen. Payet and Griezmann were the hosts’ biggest stars, but the evergreen Bacary Sagna edges out Kyle Walker - England’s best performer - at right-back.
Kevin Beirne (@KevBeirne)
Euro 2016 was a bad tournament for goalkeepers and fullbacks. Only Manuel Neuer appeared capable of saving a free-kick. Anyone who tells you one of the finalists' goalkeepers deserves to be here should be booed loudly in the street. Hugo Lloris' footwork came back to bite France in the ass over and over, and Rui Patricio conceded three goals against Hungary. Sure, some were deflected but still, he never looked in control at any stage of any game. To be honest, the closest competitor to Neuer was Gianluigi Buffon who only conceded one goal in four matches and did all he could do to beat Germany in a penalty shootout.
There were plenty of centre-backs to choose from and basically no fullbacks (sorry, Jonas Hector) so I've gone for a three at the back system preferred by a few teams this summer. Jerome Boateng showed he is the best centre-back in the world right now with Leonardo Bonucci not far behind and Ragnar Sigurðsson was probably the main reason Iceland got as far as they did. Aaron Ramsey's contribution was best shown by how poor Wales were in his absence, while Toni Kroos was flawless for the first five games.
Dimitri Payet's tournament tapered off towards the end, but he was the driving force behind getting France out of their group in the first place. Mesut Özil was at his classic best (though seriously Mesut, sort out your shooting) and Eden Hazard showed enough flashes of brilliance to get a place in the team ahead of Gareth Bale, who didn't do an awful lot besides score two free kicks which should really have been saved. Seriously, have goalkeepers just stopped working on their footwork?
Up top, it's not a traditional forward line but it is terrifying, featuring an Antoine Griezmann who came to life against the Republic of Ireland and a Cristiano Ronaldo who somehow found a way to make Nani and the rest of the Portuguese team look not as terrible as they really are.
Richard Beech (@BeechardRich)
Teams of the tournament are inevitably always wrong, so mine is probably wrong too. Sorry about that. But on the goalkeeper front, it was between Rui Patricio and Hugo Lloris for me. Manuel Neuer made an uncharacteristic mistake against France, otherwise he’d be in the mix too. There was really nothing separating Patricio and Lloris, but I’ve had a man crush on Lloris since he joined Spurs, so that edges it for me.
In defence they’re all fairly obvious choices although there’s an argument to be made that Pepe or Chiellini could sneak in there too. I thought Kimmich was fantastic, another young German player coming through the ranks. And at the opposite end of his career, Evra had a fantastic tournament. I’ve gone for three in midfield so I can facilitate having Nani, Ronaldo and Griezmann up front. I went for Ramsey, because he was spectacular for Wales; it just goes to show that if you put him in charge of a midfield as a playmaker, he becomes a totally different player. Payet shouldn’t have been taken off in the final, he was fantastic throughout the tournament and proved he’s the type of player who can turn a game on its head with one fell swoop. Özil also played brilliantly throughout.
There’s no Gareth Bale in my team - sorry Gareth. It’s nothing personal, but I thought Ronaldo, Nani and Griezmann all did more for their teams in the tournament. Football fans love a good narrative, and the narrative of Bale as Wales’ hero is lovely and that, but Ramsey was better throughout the tournament. If you take away Bale’s free kicks, two of which should have been saved, we’d barely be talking about him. Sue me.
Simon Lloyd (@SmnLlyd5)
Nobody gets a team of the tournament right and, with this in mind, I’ve stuck a couple of people in there that almost definitely don’t deserve to be in it. This starts with my choice of goalkeeper , Gabor Kiraly. Y’know - that Hungarian one with the grey sweat pants. I’ve gone with him because, in theory, if the rest of the team is strong enough the goalkeeper doesn’t really matter too much and also because I loved his completely unnecessary showboating.
The defence of Boateng, Williams and Bonucci is strong enough to provide cover for Kiraly so that he’s free to arse around with it at the back as much as he likes.
Just ahead of them, I’ve opted for Toni Kroos and Aaron Ramsey. They might not be everyone's first picks as deep-lying midfielders but I'm sticking them there for their impeccable, almost suffocating keep-ball skills. They’re also pretty useful at playing the killer pass when it's needed, too.
Further up the field, I’ve gone for Dimitri Payet and Gareth Bale to play alongside Cristiano Ronaldo. Perhaps Ronnie didn’t have the best of tournaments by his own ridiculously high standards, but he still got himself three goals and, were it not for the two he scored against Hungary, Portugal probably wouldn’t have won the thing.
Finally, seven-goal Antoine Griezmann is picked up top with Will Grigg. Considering he didn’t kick a single ball at the tournament, for three weeks it was impossible to escape that fucking song of his. As a result, he made quite an impact in his own unique way. The least I can do is stick him in this.
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