Story by Adam Wilson
GK: Joe Hart
One of England’s stand out players, unfortunately he was forced to be at his best after his side forced him to make the most saves out of all of the Goalkeepers at the tournament. Hart still only 23 will surely be England’s shot stopper for many years to come.
RB: Theodor Gebre Sellasie
The Czech Republic surprised everybody when they came back from a 4-1 defeat to Russia in their opening game, to qualify from their group. After the debacle of their first game they solidified their back line and their desire to achieve began to show through. Sellasie typified their drive to succeed and was often part of their best attacking moments, whilst also protecting his defensive position well.
CB: Mats Hummels
Alongside Badstuber, Hummels kept the German defence tight up until their Semi final defeat to Italy. Hummels had previously had an excellent season at Dortmund and his and Badstuber’s youthful partnership seems to be set to last for a while, which is good news for Germany who have struggle to find consistent Central defenders in recent times.
Often a very temperamental player, Pepe stepped up to another level in this tournament. His confident displays helped to keep an intricate Spain side out for an entire 2 hours, before undeservedly losing a penalty shootout. He wore his countries shirt with pride and played with his heart on his sleeve. Not everybody’s cup of tea, but an excellent tournament nonetheless.
LB: Phillip Lahm
Has been one of the World’s best full backs for years now and can competently play both on the right and the left. This tournament he was asked to play at left back and his ability shone through once again. Since Ballack lost his captaincy due to injury prior to the World cup in South Africa, Joachim Loew handed Lahm the armband and his faith in the defender was well placed, as Lahm was both clinical going forward and defending.
CM: Andrea Pirlo
Throughout this competition it has not gone unnoticed how vital Pirlo has been to the Italian side. People may have been fooled into thinking his career was in decline following his sale from AC Milan to Juventus, but after helping the ‘Old Lady’ to an unbeaten season and himself to the most assists in Serie A people were clearly mistaken. Instrumental in the wins over England and Germany he has aided Italy to once again reach a final in times of upheaval in Italian national football.
CM: Steven Gerrard
If anybody was in doubt as to whether Gerrard deserved the England Captaincy before the Tournament, they certainly weren’t once he began playing. The talisman for the English team who never gave less than his all, whilst being both creative and clinical with his forward play he also defended alongside Parker with grit.
CM: Andreas Iniesta
In a tournament where Spain have been criticised for their lack of attacking and a tendency to keep possession of the ball, much of the offensive responsibility laid with their more advanced midfield players. Unsurprisingly Iniesta has been at the heart of most of Spain’s better moments and he may once again be idolised if he helps them to retain the title.
RW: Alan Dzagoev
Even though Russia failed to make it through the group stages, a task which many thought was a foregone conclusion. Dzagoev did not fail to make his mark! After scoring three goals in the group stages and being one of his national side’s key players, it would not be surprising if plenty of offers came in this summer for this impressive youngster.
ST: Mario Ballotelli
Has been branded both Mad Mario and Super Mario over the course of the Championships, this enigmatic and controversial player is on the brink of becoming a hero and earning the latter title. It has often been suggested that Ballotelli will wither prove fulfil his potential or go off the rails, however after the semi final against Germany it appears we could be in for many years more of Mario’s magic!
LW: Cristiano Ronaldo
Ronaldo is definitely one of the Worlds two best players, along with Lionel Messi the two stand apart from everybody else. Nevertheless if there has ever been a criticism of Ronaldo, it has been that his incredible club performances are not always mirrored in the way he plays for his national side. However he drove his team on two a semi final against Spain and was unfortunate to miss out on a chance to take a penalty in the shoot out.