Euro Group Stage XI
Casillas: Only goalkeeper to have two clean sheets in the knockout stage. Huge saves in the second half against Croatia.
Debuchy: Has been really bright going forward and is France’s lone threat on the right flank (attacking and defending). Young talent and will be moving to a bigger club after an impressive showing thus far. Srna from Croatia was in contention. The captain was really impressive.
Pepe: Really played well against Germany in the opening match. Scored the opening goal in their second match, and has been fouled 7 times and only committed one foul.
Hummels: Rock for Germany in the back. So comfortable on the ball, too. The best defender in the group stage this tournament.
Alba: Young left back for Spain has impressed for the defending champions. One of Spain’s biggest concerns was left back, but he has settled that problem. Can make a case for Ceontrao from Portugal or Lahm from Germany for left back, too.
Gerrard: One assist in each match. Has delivered the best balls in the tournament when he has time. Also working hard in front of the back four.
Pirlo: Assist to di Natale in the opening match, sublime free-kick against Croatia, and a corner kick for Cassano. The main reason why Italy advanced. Easily their best player so far.
Dzagoev: Got a brace in the opening match, their lone goal in the second match, and should have gotten another in their last match to get them to the knockout stage. He is not the reason why Russia out of the tournament. Another young European star.
Ronaldo: Missed a sitter against Denmark in the second match, provided Germany with just a few scares in the opening match. However, his performance against Holland in the last match was the best individual performance we have seen in the group stage. Gets in just for that match alone.
Iniesta: Neat flicks to teammates and close control is unreal in the opening matches. Doesn’t have the stats that teammate David Silva has, (3 assists, 1 goal) but he has been Spain’s best attacker. Well-timed run and control to setup Navas with the winner late against Croatia to send them top.
Mandzukic: It was either Mandzukic or Gomez. Went with Mandzukic because he has done more than Gomez outside of the penalty box. Both have scored 3 goals, but Mandzukic has worked really hard in the buildup play for Croatia. It was a toss-up but Mandzukic did just as much with less around him.
Manager: Cesare Prandelli, his tactics against Spain and Croatia (3 at the back) was genius. Really caught teams off guard. Was missing key players and managed that situation well. Took Balotelli off and di Natale came on and scored right away. Didn’t start Balotelli in the last match and worked out well. Has gotten his tactics right.