36 games in and there are plenty of players pitching to be Player of the Tournament. Meanwhile BBC Sport have taken up a slight obsession with team selectors… so we thought we’d join it! Sport-Matters presents our Team of the Tournament!
GK: Michael McGovern (NIR)- 5 saves, 2 goals conceded
One of the fundamental reasons why Northern Ireland are going through to the knockout stages. To only concede two goals against the Polish and German tirade of shots is a phenomenal feat. Athleticism and strong communication with his defenders makes McGovern worthy of this spot.
RB: Kyle Walker (ENG)- 80% pass accuracy, 5 chances created, 2 shots
It was a tough choice between Walker and Bacary Sagna of France. However, Walker’s contribution for England has been more influential than Sagna’s for France, creating more chances and trying his luck on goal more frequently. Walker’s pace and desire to play the ball forward has been a highlight for the Three Lions.
CB: Vedran Corluka (CRO)- 9 interceptions, 19 clearances
This is my wildcard! They say that the best defenders never have to make a tackle… and Corluka is certainly proving that! The ex-Spurs defender has read the game extremely well to limit options for attackers and cut off the danger in high-pressure situations. There’s a reason why he had to wear a head-cap against Spain!
CB: Jerome Boateng (GER)- 3 tackles, 5 interceptions, 12 clearances, 87.3% pass accuracy
You can probably count the number of shots from Poland, Ukraine and Northern Ireland the German defence has had to face on one hand! Boateng’s defensive activity is testament to his vision of the game and his passing accuracy shows composure. Ever the calming influence, he made his goal-line clearance against Ukraine look textbook!
LB: Jordi Alba (SPA)- 92% pass accuracy, 1 assist, 3 shots
The Spanish armada may have ground to a halt against Croatia but Jordi Alba produced another fine performance, treating us to a display of defensive discipline and creativity in harmony. The Spanish clone of Kyle Walker.
CDM: Eric Dier (ENG)- 240 passes, 6 tackles, 90% pass accuracy, 9 shots, 3 chances created
Alongside Walker and Rooney, Eric Dier has been the best thing about watching England at Euro 2016. Whether he is retrieving the ball, keeping the rhythm of England’s passing or creating chances with superb balls behind the defence, Dier is the whole package- he even scores free kicks! A vital ingredient the England concoction has needed for a long time.
CM: Andres Iniesta (SPA)- 92% pass accuracy, 285 passes, 9 chances created, 1 assist
There’s not a lot more that needs to be said about Iniesta. There is one word to sum the Spanish wizard up: a metronome. Iniesta ran the show for Spain against Czech Republic and Turkey- even Croatia to a certain extent. He always found the space, always linked with the defence and always slice the defence open with a clever. If you watch one footballer in this tournament, make it Iniesta.
CM: Aaron Ramsey (WAL)- 80% pass accuracy, 143 passes, 9 chances created, 2 assists
Wales’ group-topping finish should come as no surprise when you consider that the Arsenal man is at the centre of the team. Working with the Welsh Pirlo (Joe Allen), Ramsey undertook a three-stage plan. Phase One: Unlock the Slovakian defence. Phase Two: Give Dele Alii a battle. Phase Three: Find the gap behind the Russian defence. Mission accomplished- bring on Northern Ireland!
RW: Ivan Perisic (CRO)- 2 goals, 1 assist, 9 shots, 3 chances created
Perisic’s late goal against Spain established Croatia as the underdogs for contention of the title. The Inter Milan man has not stopped running for his team in three matches. Perisic’s desire to compete and his talent for creating chances oozes from him, making him enviable to other teams in these Euros.
LW: Dmitri Payet (FRA)- 2 goals, 1 assist, 9 shots, 15 chances created
The undoubted star of the show for France. Having come off the bench to score a screamer against Romania, Payet has not looked back. A lover of last-minute action, even his shot on the post against Switzerland could not blot his copybook. He has shown consistent brilliance which, if carried on, could hand the title to the hosts.
FW: Gareth Bale (WAL)- 3 goals, 18 shots
In the battle of the superstars, it is Bale that has come out on top. The Welsh Wizard has managed to actually score a free-kick (twice!) at these Euros and knock all the strikers out of contention for my team of the tournament so far! Unlike Ronaldo and Ibrahimovic, Bale left the ego at home and played as part of the team, now reaping the reward as Wales are considered ‘contenders’!