The UEFA team of the tournament has been announced, with the best performers at every position making the team. (You can find that list here.) The list is solid, but I thought I’d make a list of who I think should have made the team.
Goalkeeper: Gianluigi Donnarumma, Italy
Who else could it be? Gianluigi Donnarumma was named player of the tournament and was instrumental for Italy, helping them win two penalty shootouts. Donnarumma only allowed four goals in six matches.
Right-back: Joakim Maehle, Denmark
In the official team of the tournament, Kyle Walker got the nod here. Walker impressed during the tournament, but Joakim Maehle was incredible for Denmark. Maehle was clutch from Denmark, getting two goals and an incredible assist as Denmark reached the semifinals.
Center-back: Leonardo Bonucci, Italy
Leonardo Bonucci was an absolute stalwart in defense for Italy, and unsurprisingly made the team of the tournament. He also was a captain for two matches, both of which Italy won, and scored the equalizer against England.
Center-back: Harry Maguire, England
I contemplated putting Giorgio Chiellini here because of his impressive performances for Italy, but Harry Maguire’s importance for England can’t be overlooked. Maguire overcame an injury that almost ruled him out of the tournament to start the remaining five games and even score once against Ukraine.
Left-back: Luke Shaw, England
UEFA chose Leonardo Spinazzola for this spot, and I would have – had Spinazzola not missed the final two matches due to injury. Spinazzola did impress when he played, but he missed three games total including the final two.
Shaw sat on the bench for England’s first match, but then proceeded to start every other match. Shaw grabbed three goals and scored his first ever international goal in the final.
Center-midfield: Jorginho, Italy
Another Italy player who had to make this team, Jorginho played all but fifteen minutes of Italy’s games. He also scored the decisive penalty against Spain and was the heart of Italy’s midfield.
Center-midfield: Pedri, Spain
Despite Pedri holding the new record for the longest ever own goal at the Euros, he was incredible this year. The 18-year old midfielder played all but ONE minute for Spain and was handed the young player of the tournament award. He has a bright future for Spain and Barcelona (you know, assuming Barcelona can sort out their financial situation and renew his contract).
Center-midfield: Paul Pogba, France
Pogba didn’t make the UEFA team, presumably because France didn’t make it past the Round of 16. Regardless, Pogba was a rare bright spot on a poor France team, scoring an incredible goal against Switzerland and playing impressively throughout the tournament.
Pierre-Emile Höjbjerg could have taken this spot (as he did in UEFA’s official team) but Pogba’s brilliance this tournament had to be acknowledged.
Left-wing: Lorenzo Insigne, Italy
Raheem Sterling grabbed this spot on the UEFA team, and rightfully so. However, I felt that Sterling was far more important to England in the group stages than in the knockouts, whereas Insigne was a constant threat for Italy.
Insigne only scored two goals the entire tournament, but almost all of Italy’s attacking plays involved Insigne. He led most of Italy’s counter attacks and also scored an incredible winner against Belgium. Insigne might have had more goals, but was rested in Italy’s final group stage match against Wales (with most of Italy’s starters) and was commonly subbed off later in matches for fresh legs. Regardless, Insigne had a great tournament.
Striker: Patrik Schick, Czech Republic
Romelu Lukaku impressed for Belgium at the Euros, but it still blows my mind that he was selected to the UEFA team of the tournament over Patrik Schick.
Granted, Schick scored only one more goal than Lukaku, but he carried the Czech Republic to the Quarter-finals. Schick scored five of the six goals that Czech Republic scored total (including one goal from the half) whereas Lukaku had significantly more help in Belgium’s attack with a team expected to advance to the knockouts.
Schick, meanwhile, finished second in the race for top scorer (losing on a tiebreaker) and took his nation as far as Belgium went despite playing for the fourth-lowest ranked team at the Euros (per FIFA).
Right-wing: Federico Chiesa, Italy
Early on in the tournament, Chiesa mostly functioned as a super sub for Italy. That all changed in the Round of 16 when the Juventus man scored with a good strike to give Italy the win over Austria.
Chiesa went on to start Italy’s final three matches, scoring in the semis against Spain and looking like Italy’s best attacking threat against England before being forced to leave with an injury.
Obviously with only eleven players, there were some very tough cuts to make, both for me and the actual UEFA team. I chose five players that UEFA did not, but ultimately I agree with most of the selections. Who do you think should have made the team?
Image Courtesy of Кирилл Венедиктов, CC BY-SA 3.0 GFDL, via Wikimedia Commons.
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