With the Euro Championship over, HT picks the best XI with finalists Portugal and France dominating with seven of the 11:
Goalkeeper: Hannes Halldorsson, Iceland
It’s easy being a ‘keeper when you have a good defence in front of you, but Halldorsson showed that even one man can help take a team through. With 27 saves, the shot-stopper played a major role in seeing the minnows into the quarters.
Right-back: Bacary Sagna, France
At 33, Sagna does not have the pace he once had, but that is precicely why he makes it to the list. With his legs not on his side, Sagna has had to rely on his timing going into tackles and intelligence in positioning, and has excelled in doing so.
Centre-back: Pepe, Portugal
The Real Madrid central defender made sure to silence critics who questioned his ability to go on with the Spanish side last season. At the Euro, he bailed his team out on more than one occasion and was the senior figure holding the backline together.
Centre-back: Jerome Boateng, Germany
From scoring his first ever international goal against Slovakia to making goal-line clearances, the Bayern Munich man had an excellent tournament up until he was injured in the 0-2 semifinal loss to hosts France.
Left-back: Raphael Guerreiro, Portugal
At just 22, the player has shown maturity beyond his age, and his versatility allows him to operate in midfield as well. His club, Borussia Dortmund, can expect inquiries over the summer transfer window, so good was his performance.
Defensive midfielder: Paul Pogba, France
The player is tipped to be become the most expensive player this summer with both Manchester United and Real Madrid interested. His showing in France was in a class of its own and Pogba would be an excellent anchor for any team.
Midfielder: Dimitri Payet, France
The player was barely known a year ago, but after surprising all in his debut season with West Ham in the Premier League, Payet played a key role for the national team and established himself as a lynchpin of Didier Deschamps’ side.
Midfielder: Aaron Ramsey, Wales
The Arsenal man has spent more time in the doctor’s office than he would have liked, but at 25, Ramsey still has time to become a world class player. His creativity and link-up play with Gareth Bale drove Wales till the semifinals. Ramsey was suspended from the semis clash against Portugal, and Wales certainly missed him in the 0-2 loss.
Forward: Antoine Griezmann, France
After his exploits as Atletico Madrid’s main man, Griezmann has cemented his place as the main forward for France with six goals in the tournament that won him the golden boot. Unfortunately, he was unable to help his team to the title, losing to Portugal in the final.
Forward: Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal
After another stellar season with Real Madrid, it was predicted that Ronaldo would be disappointed with the national team yet again. But both Ronaldo and his teammates defied the odds to reach the final and win the cup. The skipper scored three goals and assisted another three for a standout show.
Forward: Gareth Bale, Wales
After three goals in his first three games, Bale helped his team to a semifinal clash with Real Madrid teammate Cristiano Ronaldo .Unfortunately, their journey ended there, but that should not take focus away from the industrious outing by the 26-year-old.