Euro 2016 — Gareth Bale, Granit Xhaka and Dimitri Payet have made our team of the round
Euro 2016 is taking a two day break ahead of the knockout stages and I don’t know about you, but we here at Sportsbet.io are already missing it.
We’ve been left twiddling our thumbs because of the lack of football, so to keep in the spirit of things we’ve named out team of the group stages!
Michael McGovern — Northern Ireland
It was a tough call not picking a goalkeeper that hadn’t conceded; however, the performances of Michael McGovern have been quite outstanding.
In a group containing the current World Champions (Germany), the top scorers in qualifying (Poland) and a tricky Ukrainian side, McGovern was only beaten twice.
The fact that he conceded so few has meant Northern Ireland have advanced to the last 16 where they will come up against fellow Home Nation Wales.
Kyle Walker — England
In what has been a disappointing group stage for England, Kyle Walker has been a shining light.
Teams facing England have sat back and played on the counter attack, allowing Walker to venture forward, using his pace to terrorise fullbacks.
His abundance of speed is also a real asset when defending and he’s managed to withstand everything thrown at him thus far.
Leonardo Bonucci — Italy
This was supposedly the worst Italian team to enter a competition in 50 years, however the Italians certainly turn up when it counts.
Built on the foundations of Leonardo Bonucci and two other exceptional centre backs, the Italians didn’t concede in the first two games before making wholesale changes for their final fixture.
Bonnuci and Co. made Belgium, the second best team in the world look decidedly average and toothless in Lyon.
Jerome Boateng — Germany
I could have chosen another Italian, however Jerome Boateng has also put in some outstanding performances.
Boateng really struggled whilst at Manchester City, however he’s developed into one of the best centre backs in the world and is also extremely comfortable on the ball.
He managed to nullify club team-mate, Robert Lewandowski against Poland, whilst also managing to clear the ball off the line against Ukraine when a goal seemed certain.
Darijo Srna — Croatia
Veteran defender Darijo Srna has had a magnificent tournament so far, with his Croatian side beating Spain and Turkey to top the group and avoid a last 16 tie against Italy.
Srna put on a defensive master class against the Spanish, whilst also venturing forward when possible and delivering some teasing crosses.
Winning the group means a dangerous tie against Portugal, however the Croatians will fancy their chances.
Granit Xhaka — Switzerland
Granit Xhaka, recently signed by Arsenal, looks to be in the perfect mould for his new employers.
After completing 197 passes in his first two games, coupled with equally impressive defensive and offensive stats, Xhaka looks to be the complete player.
Whilst Switzerland have been average at these Championships, Xhaka has taken by the scruff of their neck and dragged them out of the group stages.
Aaron Ramsey — Wales
Having dyed his hair peroxide blonde before the tournament, Aaron Ramsey had to play well to save face.
His performances have been exceptional and the fact that Wales won the group shows how impressive the Welsh have been.
Alongside Joe Allen, Ramsey has dominated the midfield and his partnership with Xhaka next season promises to excite.
Ivan Perisic — Croatia
As stated earlier, the Croatians have been impressive and Ivan Perisic has really found his form.
The former Dortmund player has been terrorising defences, showing technical ability coupled with pace and composure.
His goal against Spain condemns them to their first defeat in the Euros for 12 years and ensures Croatia are left on the easier side of the draw.
Dimitri Payet — France
The French media have been less than impressed with their performances, however one player has really caught their eye — Dimitri Payet.
He scored a spectacular 89th minute winner in the opening game of the tournament and produced an even later strike in their second game.
The French had very high hopes for this tournament and Payet is showing why the West Ham fans are so eager to keep him.
Alvaro Morata — Spain
The football played by Spain can often be pleasing on the eye, however they have, in previous times, lacked a cutting edge.
Alvaro Morata has stormed onto the scene; fresh from resigning for Real Madrid and is currently joint top goal scorer on three.
If Spain are to advance they’ll need Morata to continue his fine form against an Italian side that will know him well from his Juventus days.
Gareth Bale — Wales
The hopes and expectations of the Welsh rested on the shoulders of their Galactico, Gareth Bale, who certainly hasn’t disappointed.
Bale found the back of the net in each of the group games and had a chance to score three free kicks in three games.
Having outshone his Real Madrid counterpart, Cristiano Ronaldo, Bale will be looking to add to his tally when he faces Northern Ireland on Saturday.
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