Euro 2021: A Team Of The Top Performers From The Tournament
This summer we witnessed Euro 2021, an absolutely jaw-dropping tournament that brought out emotions from fans all over the world. It was truly a one-of-a-kind tournament and there were some spectacular performances across the tournament. I will be creating a team of eleven standout players that were truly the best of the best. These picks are my opinion, so try not to get upset if your favorite player did not make the list (looking at you, Ronaldo diehards). This team is based ONLY on the performances at Euro 2021, and the team will be set in a classic 4-3-3 formation.
Goalie- Gianluigi Donnarumma (Italy)
Coming into the final, I had decided my pick for goalkeeper of the tournament was only down to Donnarumma and Pickford, with the Italian having the slight edge. After a final in which they both had tremendous games, the choice was still close, but at the end of the day, Gianluigi Donnarumma has honestly done nothing wrong in this tournament. Thus, he gets the nod as the best goalkeeper of Euro 2021 at the young age of 22. In fact, after the tournament he just had, I am comfortable saying he is the best goalie in the entire world.
Honorable Mentions: Jordan Pickford (England), Kasper Schmeichel (Denmark), Yann Sommer (Switzerland),
Defenders: Leandro Spinazzola (Italy), Harry Maguire (England), Leonardo Bonucci (Italy), Kyle Walker (England)
Although his tournament got cut short by a terrible injury in his quarter-final match against Switzerland, Leandro Spinazzola put on an absolute show at Euro 2021. Whether it was shutting down attackers one-on-one in open spaces, or carving up opposing defenses through the left side of the field, Spinazzola was all over the pitch in the games he played. Likely the best Italian player through the quarterfinals, Spinazzola gets the edge over Luke Shaw at left-back even though Shaw came alive in the knockout stage and scored a brilliant goal in the final.
Harry Maguire was arguably the best defender in the tournament. He simply dominated, winning ball after ball, clearance after clearance, and header after header. Maguire is built like a tank and he played like a machine. His rare combination of brute strength, speed and technique was on full display at this tournament. Maguire even made his presence felt on offense, delivering passes that pierced through defenses as well as consistently winning headers in the box off set pieces, even scoring one of them in a quarter-final match against Ukraine.
Bonucci, for his part, was easily the most consistent player on the Italian team, with tremendous performances in every single game he played. If there was one player I would not want to get in a fight with at the Euros, it would be the man with the mean buzz-cut and the no-nonsense defending. Plus, him yelling “It’s coming to Rome” into the camera after the final has to be a candidate for highlight of the tournament.
Kyle Walker was a massive reason behind the English defense looking as solid and collected as they did at Euro 2021. His blistering pace allowed him to recover when the defense was broken down and help the rest of his backline out of tricky situations. Walker was often the most experienced English player on the pitch and it showed in the ways he smartly controlled the ball from crosses and averted crises at the perfect time. In addition, Walker also helped provide an attacking presence on the right side of the field as well, often delivering threatening balls into the box.
Honorable Mentions: Luke Shaw (England), Ayermic Laporte (Spain), John Stones (England), Denzel Dumfries (Netherlands)
Midfielders- Paul Pogba (France), Pedri (Spain), Jorginho (Italy)
Paul Pogba was magical this tournament and simply looking at the stats would not tell you that. In almost every game the French played at the Euros he was far and away his team’s most creative player, fabricating chances out of virtually nothing. His small touches or passes in limited space were exceptional and his full-field switching of the play was brilliant as well. N’Golo Kante’s defensive work most definitely allows for Pogba to have a lot of attacking freedom, but that in no way takes away from Pogba’s impressive performance at Euro 2021.
What Pedri did for the Spanish this tournament at the age of 18 was nothing short of incredible. He has proved himself as a true generational talent, and FC Barcelona should feel extremely lucky that they have him at their club. With a playstyle similar to Andrés Iniesta (which I do not say lightly), Pedri had a 91% percent pass accuracy and a remarkable 11 chances created across the tournament. He played a ridiculous 630 minutes across just 6 games, and he is unquestionably the future of Spain’s midfield.
Jorginho, the man who imitates a bunny when taking a penalty kick proved why he should be known for far more than just that. Playing the role of a true box-to-box central midfielder, Jorginho stepped up throughout the tournament. He was fearless defensively, sliding anywhere and everywhere to win the ball as well as calm and creative on the offensive. Had Verratti played the entire tournament fully fit, this spot could have been his, but Jorginho most definitely deserves a spot on the team of the tournament.
Honorable Mentions: Frenkie de Jong (Netherlands), Pierre Højbjerg (Denmark), Kevin de Bruyne (Belgium),Toni Kroos (Germany)
Attackers- Raheem Sterling (England), Romelu Lukaku (Belgium), Federico Chiesa (Italy)
Raheem Sterling would probably win player of the tournament had Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho, and Bukayo Saka scored on their penalty attempts, but even though the English lost, Sterling is still in the running alongside Jorginho and Pedri, demonstrating the tournament he had. His ability to run at defenders and operate quickly in tight spaces was crucial to England’s attack and his impact was clear on the stat sheet with three goals and an assist as well as a “penalty” won.
I am actually shocked at how little recognition Romelu Lukaku is getting after having the tournament he just had. He did not have his best game in Belgium’s quarterfinal loss to Italy, but Lukaku was still the best striker in the tournament, as he had the greatest impact on the success of his team out of any striker in the competition. Whether it was his brilliant hold-up play keeping defenders pinned on his back or his efficient finishing, it is difficult to imagine Belgium even advancing to the quarter-finals without Lukaku.
Federico Chiesa is not even in his prime yet. After solidifying his starting role by the knockout stages, he was far and away the most dangerous Italian attacker in their last four games. Always looking at goal, his aggressiveness and technical excellence resulted in an absolute peach of a goal in the semi-final against Spain as well as a few other chances that were mere inches away. Alongside Pedri, he is one of the players I am most excited to see at next year’s World Cup.
Honorable Mentions: Harry Kane (England), Patrick Schick (Czech Republic), Emil Forsberg (Sweden)
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