Ryan Baldi picks his team of the tournament ahead of Sunday’s final between England and Italy.
With just one game left to play, Euro 2020 has delivered everything you could reasonably expect from a major international tournament – and much, much more.
There have been spectacular goals, thrilling games and several standout performers. There has also been a great unexpected upset in favourites France’s last-16 elimination at the hands of Switzerland, a lesser-spotted halfway-lie strike courtesy of Patrik Schick, and an even-lesser-spotted run to the final by England.
GK – Gianluigi Donnarumma – Italy
It has been a joy to behold. Here is my team of the tournament.Still only 22, Donnarumma is well established as one of the finest goalkeepers in Europe, and his performances this summer only further emphasize Paris Saint-Germain’s bargain, with the Ligue 1 side set to sign him from AC Milan as a free agent.
There have been several excellent keepers on display at Euro 2020, with Jordan Pickford, Kasper Schmeichel and Yann Sommer all starring, but Donnarumma’s unmatched reflexes have been crucial throughout for Italy, never more so than in the semi-final against Spain, both in open play and during a penalty-shootout victory.
RB – Kyle Walker – England
Walker hasn’t been as adventurous in attack as the full-back on the other side of England’s back line, but the Manchester City man has been faultless defensively.
He might be the oldest member of Gareth Southgate’s squad at 31, but he remains the quickest. His recovery pace has been a tremendous asset, a last line of defence that has ensured England have reached the final without conceding from open play.
CB – Giorgio Chiellini – Italy
Both Chiellini and club and international cohort Leonardo Bonucci have been outstanding once again at Euro 2020.
The latter has impressed more on the ball, with his long-passing ability a key tenet of Italy’s ability to attack at speed, but Chiellini gets the nod here as, at 36, he is still arguably the best penalty-box defender in the world.
CB – Harry Maguire – England
Despite missing the first two games as he recovered from injury, Maguire has been the most impressive centre-back on show at the European Championship.
The Manchester United captain has been a pillar at the back with his anticipation and aerial ability and, as his quarter-final goal against Ukraine exemplified, a threat in the opposition penalty area from set-pieces. Above all, Maguire’s most notable and immediate impact upon re-entering the England line-up for the final group-stage game was found in how his ability to pass forward out of defence aided the Three Lions in possession.
LB – Luke Shaw – England
England’s revelation of the tournament, Maguire’s United colleague has followed up a fine season at Old Trafford with a truly outstanding international campaign this summer. Heading into the final, only Switzerland’s Steven Zuber, with four, can better Shaw’s tally of three assists.
Whether deployed behind Raheem Sterling or Jack Grealish, Shaw has shown an ability to link with team-mates along the left flank to devastating effect, while also exhibiting tireless running, sound decision-making and solid defensive instincts.
CM – Jorginho – Italy
The metronomic heartbeat of Chelsea’s Champions League triumph, Jorginho is one game away from capping an incredible season.
The Brazil-born playmaker struggled to find acceptance in England after initially joining Chelsea under Maurizio Sarri three years ago. Now, after a majestic run as chief string-puller for Roberto Mancini’s side and amid calls for him to be considered a Ballon d’Or contender, Jorginho has the chance to silence any remaining doubters in against England at Wembley.
CM – Pedri – Spain
Barcelona’s 18-year-old midfield prodigy took his form from an outstanding first season at the Camp Nou into Euro 2020 with Spain, a starter in all six of Luis Enrique’s side’s games and displaying a maturity and temperament far beyond his tender years.
Pass master Pedri has made more passes (461) than any other midfielder at the tournament. In Spain’s unfortunate semi-final defeat to Italy, the teenager was the best player on the pitch, completing 97 per cent of his passes and creating two scoring chances.
CM – Paul Pogba – France
It was cut short at the last-16 stage by a shock shootout exit at the hands of Switzerland, but Pogba’s Euro 2020 campaign exemplified everything that makes the Manchester United midfielder one of football’s most unique talents.
Backed up by the ballast of N’Golo Kante’s defensive work, the former Juventus man produced one of the goals of the tournament in the 3-3 draw with the Swiss and delivered several of the competition’s most jaw-dropping passes.
AM – Raheem Sterling – England
The player of the tournament. There were calls for Sterling to be dropped before England’s opener against Croatia after a sub-par season with Manchester City, but he scored the game’s only goal and has since produced one of the most consistently excellent tournament performances by an English player in recent memory.
Whether he’s dribbling past multiple players at a time, threatening goal with his expert off-ball movement or turning creator with incisive through-balls and cut-backs, Sterling has been a constant tormentor of opposition defenders at Euro 2020.
ST – Romelu Lukaku – Belgium
Lukaku looked unplayable at times during the Euros. As he has shown consistently since joining Inter Milan from Manchester United two years ago, the 28-year-old striker’s combination of movement, speed and devastating finishing makes him a near-unstoppable force.
The former Chelsea and Everton forward scored four goals in five games for a talent-rich Belgium side who narrowly lost out to Italy in the quarters.
ST – Patrick Schick – Czech Republic
Only Cristiano Ronaldo – with the help of three penalties – managed to match Schick’s scoring feat at Euro 2020.
The 6ft 2ins Bayer Leverkusen striker started the tournament in spectacular fashion, scoring from the halfway line as part of a brace against Scotland at Hampden Park, and he continued in prolific form, notching against Croatia, Holland and Denmark. England, who have reached the final having only seen Jordan Pickford’s goal breached once, were the only team Schick faced and failed to score against at the Euros.
Subs: Jordan Pickford (England), Simon Kjaer (Denmark), Marco Verratti (Italy), Mikkel Damsgaard (Denmark), Lorenzo Insigne (Italy)
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