'Ronaldo, Sterling or Pogba': Who makes it to Euro 2020's team of the tournament
After 51 games in 11 cities around the continent with a total of 142 goals, the European Championship is over.
Here’s a team of the tournament chosen by The Associated Press, comprising the standout players from the 24 competing nations:
GOALKEEPER: Gianluigi Donnarumma (Italy) — Named player of the tournament — the first goalkeeper to win the award at a European Championship — primarily because of the saves he made in Italy's penalty-shootout victories in both the semifinals and final. He was an imposing presence throughout the tournament and, at 22, looks to have a long international career ahead of him.
RIGHT BACK: Kyle Walker (England) — Emerged as the go-to choice from the three right-backs -- it was originally supposed to be four! - selected by England for Euro 2020. Walker, with his incredible recovery speed, proved almost impossible to go around and also showed his versatility by slotting into a back three when needed.
LEFT BACK: Leonardo Spinazzola (Italy) — Missed the semifinals and final because of an injury sustained late in the quarterfinal win over Belgium, during which he made a goal-line clearance to keep Italy ahead. His attacking runs down the left wing were a feature of Italy’s breathless displays.
CENTER BACK: Simon Kjaer (Denmark) — Helped to save Christian Eriksen's life by giving chest compressions after his teammate collapsed on the field against Finland, then acted as a leader by organizing a protective ring around his close friend and tending to distressed Denmark players. He also played well, helping the Danes reach the semifinals against the odds.
CENTER BACK: Leonardo Bonucci (Italy) — His long-time partnership with Giorgio Chiellini at the back has reached iconic levels, especially now that they are European champions. Bonucci is 34 but as reliable as ever in the air and with the ball at his feet. He also scored the equalizing goal in the final, during which he nullified the threat of England striker Harry Kane.
MIDFIELDER: Jorginho (Italy) — The Ballon d'Or could yet be heading the Brazilian-born defensive midfielder's way after a season when he won both the Champions League with Chelsea and Euro 2020 with Italy. Calmly stroked home the winning penalty against Spain in the semifinals and was the conductor of Italy's recovery against England in the final.
MIDFIELDER: Paul Pogba (France) — If France had advanced beyond the round of 16, Pogba would have been in the running for player of the tournament. His range of passing, coupled with that stunning long-range goal against Switzerland, showcased the qualities he doesn’t always demonstrate for Manchester United.
MIDFIELDER: Pedri Gonzalez (Spain) — Just 18 and playing in his first major tournament, Pedri was a revelation with his passing, composure and technical ability on the ball. His performance in the semifinals, when he helped Spain to outclass a strong Italy midfield and had a 100% pass completion rate in normal time, will linger long in the memory.
FORWARD: Lorenzo Insigne (Italy) — The brightest spark of Italy's front three and the scorer of one of the goals of the tournament, his weaving run and curling shot into the corner for what proved to be the winner against Belgium in the quarterfinals. The diminutive Insigne was excellent in the final, too, after switching from the wing to take up an unusual role as a deep-lying center forward.
FORWARD: Raheem Sterling (England) — Came into Euro 2020 out of form after a below-par season at Manchester City and ended it arguably as England's best player. Sterling scored winning goals in games against Croatia and the Czech Republic in the group stage, the opening goal in the 2-0 victory over Germany in the round of 16, and won the penalty that clinched a semifinal win over Denmark.
FORWARD: Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal) — Only played four games but still ended up the winner of the top scorer award with five goals and, crucially, one assist. Enduring and still decisive at the highest level, Ronaldo is now tied for the all-time leading scoring lead in men’s international soccer with 109 goals.