European Football

My Euro 2020 Team of the Tournament

Like Team of the Season, but International…

GK: Gianluigi Donnarumma (Italy)

The penalty hero (twice!) for Italy, Gigio Donnarumma has come up clutch on multiple occasions for the Azzurri. His reflexes and athleticism between the posts has been needed to bail Italy out. While he did not win the Golden Gloves for the tournament, going to England’s Jordan Pickford, Donnarumma was definitely tested more than the Englishman or any other contender for this position, and while the likes of Pickford and Kasper Schmeichel also had very good tournaments, it was Donnarumma who stood out (usually literally) head and shoulders above the rest. Not only has he made the impossible task of replacing Gianluigi Buffon seem trivial, he has already written himself into the history of Italian football. The sky is the limit for this kid.

RB: Denzel Dumfries (Netherlands)

One of the few bright sparks in an overall disappointing tournament for the Dutch, PSV right back Denzel Dumfries was a force on the right side for Franck de Boer’s team. His ability to be deadly going forward while also being solid defensively made him invaluable to this Dutch side, and it certainly increased transfer interest around him.

To be fair, I flirted with the idea of picking multiple left backs instead of one left back and one right back, but I could not justify it. I have to stick to my rules. Dumfries was the best right back in the tournament, so his inclusion is natural.

CB: Leonardo Bonucci (Italy)

The retirement age center back pairing of Bonucci and Chiellini was rock solid the whole competition, almost surprisingly so. I actively questioned why the two of them started together, especially after Chiellini’s injury issues the last two seasons making him play a total of less than two dozen games in two seasons. Well, both were phenomenal, and Bonucci was maybe the best center back in the whole tournament. Defensively, he was a monster, with his no-nonsense tackles and incredible positional awareness helping to break up opposition attacks. He also scored a few times, including the equalizer against England in the final, making him invaluable to Roberto Mancini on both ends of the pitch.

CB: Harry Maguire (England)

A man who people love to doubt, Harry Maguire has been maybe the most important player for England in this tournament. A rock at the back, a leader of the defense, and a deadly scorer from set pieces, Maguire’s fingerprints were all over the success of this England team at the Euros. Even with fitness issues going into the tournament, it was still a no-brainer for Southgate to bring him to the tournament, and he repaid that trust several fold. His inclusion is a no-brainer.

LB: Leonardo Spinazzola (Italy)

Now this is surprisingly tough. There were several very good left backs in this tournament, and forcing myself to pick just one was torture. But, despite his lack of statistical production compared to others, and despite his major injury ruling him out of Italy’s final two games, Spinazzola was the best left back in this tournament. It was wild to see just how important Spinazzola was to Italian attacks, and it was only after he got injured that we saw just how effective he was and how good he made Italy’s attack. The chemistry he built with Lorenzo Insigne brought out the best in both players and really made that Azzurri attack as fluid and deadly as it was.

MF: Jorginho (Italy)

Now, it is very hard to pick which Italian midfielder deserves this spot. All three of them were phenomenal this tournament, but it is hard to ignore how important Jorginho’s metronomic control of the midfield was in Italy’s success. His pass completion rates were always absurd, but it was even more so throughout this tournament. He is what made this Italy team work, and without him, it is hard to imagine Italy being as good and as attractive as they were in this tournament. Add on top of that his good and somewhat disrespected defensive ability and his penalty scored against Spain (let’s ignore the one that was saved against England) and you have one of the best midfielders in the tournament.

But no, he’s not winning the Ballon d’Or. Calm down, Chelsea fans.

MF: Pierre-Emile Højbjerg (Denmark)

The Spurs midfielder took up a very unique role for Denmark in this tournament, one outside his normal role at club level, and his ability to shine in this unique role is why he is here. After Christian Eriksen’s cardiac arrest against Finland, Højbjerg was forced to take some of Eriksen’s role and responsibility as the main creator in midfield. Without a creator, Denmark would not be able to function. Højbjerg not only did just enough in this role, but he was quietly one of the best creative midfielders in the tournament. While Denmark’s main adaptation following Eriksen’s departure was to focus on more creativity from wide areas, Højbjerg was still able to be that creative force through the middle of the park. Had he not been able to be this good in this role, I doubt Denmark would have made the semifinal.

MF: Pedri (Spain)

Going into this tournament, Pedri might have been the most under-hyped young player in the world. Leaving the tournament, Pedri was undoubtedly the best young player in the competition, firmly entrenching himself in that Spain midfield and, frankly, looking like the next Andrés Iniesta. He literally completed 100% of his passes through 90 minutes against Italy in the semifinal, which is patently absurd, especially against a team as good and as strong specifically in midfield as Italy. While that was easily his best performance in the competition, that was not his only great performance, as he very well could have been Spain’s best player throughout the whole competition. Not only did the 18 year old not look out of his depth starting for his country at the Euros, he looked like he belonged at this level. This kid is destined for incredible things, and I have no doubts that this will not be the last team of the tournament he is involved in.

FW: Raheem Sterling (England)

The “Boy from Brent” who grew up in the shadows of Wembley Stadium really came so close to helping England achieve their dreams. Sterling’s inclusion in the England starting XI against Croatia raised some eyebrows, especially when coming off a not so great season, but he more than silenced all of his critics throughout the whole tournament. Being England’s talismanic goalscorer during the early parts of the tournament, Sterling continually showed his importance to the England attack routinely in every game. His ability on the ball and finishing helped fill a bit of the attacking void when Harry Kane was struggling early in the tournament, and he played a very important role in getting England to the final. Just a shame that they did not win it.

FW: Patrik Schick (Czech Republic)

The Czech Republic were one of the surprises of the tournament, upsetting the Netherlands in the Round of 16 and coming remarkably close to beating Denmark. Had a few things gone their way, they could have ended up in the semifinals. The main reason for their success was their talismanic striker Patrik Schick, who finished joint-top scorer in the tournament. He demonstrated the skillset of a complete number nine, having the pace, strength, and finishing ability to be deadly in multiple ways. Also, that goal against Scotland, right? There are always those players who massively increase their stock, maybe even get a big move, off the back of major tournament performances, and Schick might be that player from this tournament.

FW: Emil Forsberg (Sweden)

Yeah, this ain’t Ronaldo, get over it.

Forsberg was really a crucial player for Sweden, finishing the tournament surprisingly as the joint-second top scorer. Alexander Isak was the bursting star of the Swedish team, but no player was more important for their success than Forsberg. His goals got them through that group, and had he not been as unlucky against Ukraine, where he hit the woodwork multiple times, Sweden would have been in the quarterfinals, and who knows what would happen after that? Forsberg’s future in Leipzig has been up in the air for a bit now, and him showing his competencies in this tournament could lead to him finding the right new club or impressing his new manager for Leipzig.

And that is my Euros Team of the Tournament. Congratulations to Italy who were deserving champions, winning the Euros for the second time in their history. This tournament sets us up well for what should be a very exciting World Cup, and we only have to wait a year and a half for it to come around.

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