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Thursday June 21 2012
Euro 2012 Dream Team – so far

With the group stage now over, Dave Taylor looks back on the 24 games to date in order to put together the best XI of the championship so far.

Stipe Pletikosa [Croatia]

Needed to be awake against Ireland although hardly tested, but in the Italy game he was outstanding, especially his double save from Claudio Marchisio. For the first shot he swiftly powered off the line before sprawling to the right to save the follow up. Also kept the Spanish quiet, foiling Fernando Torres at the near post with his knee and blocking a fierce Jesus Navas shot late on. Steadfast.

Glen Johnson [England]

Wasn’t as brilliant as some in individual games, but overall he quietly worked away intercepting balls, blocking shots and making several absolutely crucial tackles. Against France he kept the normal vivacious Frank Ribery quiet and had the pace to recover when pulled out of position. Generally made England difficult to beat. Critical.

Mats Hummels [Germany]

The Dortmund defender was a tower in the back line and his intelligence and anticipation – in particular during the game against Holland – was typical of his attitude throughout all three ties. He was always ready to cut out danger and marshalled his side to maximum points. Uncompromising when needed to be, but also calm when coolness was the order of the day. Attentive.

Daniele De Rossi [Italy]

Just when Spain thought they had a free run on goal, up would pop the Roma midfielder to foil them time after time. If Andrea Pirlo got swamped in the midfield then he would step up, finding the time and space to pick out his teammates and put Italy on the front foot once again. It was the same in the Croatia game where he dealt with any danger in the box and cleared up any loose balls like an old fashioned sweeper. Almost scored against Ireland when returned to midfield. Rock-solid.

Federico Balzaretti [Italy]

Perhaps should have played in every game such was his performance down the left flank against Ireland. A continuous menace and blocked the Irish wingers at every turn. Also made a couple of chances for the forwards with his crosses and sliced through the opposition defence every time he got forward. Voracious.

Bastian Schweinsteiger [Germany]

Never really put a foot wrong in any of the games and was one of the main reasons Germany collected nine points. Set up both goals for Mario Gomez against Holland, but also put in a shift at stopping the Dutch midfield from getting into its stride. Always classy, holding up the play and forever looking for the perfect pass. Integral.

Sami Khedira [Germany]    

Protected his defence with an unerring ability to be in the right place when trouble looked like erupting. Also linked up the play in the middle of the park and was forever looking to set up his colleagues. Never stopped running and was particularly cutting in the Denmark game. Inspiring.

Luka Modric [Croatia]

The Spurs’ midfielder was the Andreas Inestia of Croatia with his total involvement in all things creative. Always menacing whenever he had the ball, his timing was immaculate and his pinpoint cross for Ivan Rakitic’s failed header in the game against Spain deserved a goal simply for its imagination. Essential.

Andrea Pirlo [Italy]

As usual, he pulled the strings and was behind everything good the Azzurri tried. Although he produced several real moments of magic, his brilliant free-kick against Croatia from the left hand side edge of the area was inspirationally sublime. He also set up Antonio Di Natale’s goal against Spain with an inch-perfect pass, as well as Antonio Cassano’s opener against Ireland. Vital.

Mario Gomez [Germany]

Bayern Munich’s striker showed his worth by scoring two fabulous goals against the Dutch as well as netting the winner against Portugal. Always looked to get into position to receive the ball and his first goal against Holland was a perfect example of a striker at the top of his game - when he turned and shot low into the goal, all in one movement. Alert.

Alan Dzagoev [Russia]

One of the stars of the tournament with three goals and was always looking to be first to the ball. Showed class beyond his years when he pounced on a rebound for his first goal against the Czechs. His second was even better as he collected the ball from Roman Pavlyuchenko then blasted it past an awe-struck Petr Cech in goal. Also scored against Poland, but it was his general play and movement that impressed everyone who saw him. Sensational.

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Have your say...
My Team

Buffon

Lahm
Sergio Ramos
Terry
Coentrao

Iniesta
Ronaldo
Ribery
Silver

Torres
Gomez
on the 2nd July, 2012 at 5:19am
ur 1 sucks.....my 1 is:
Cech
Lahm
Terry
Evra
Pirlo
Schweinsteiger
Gerrard
Nasri
Kroos
Erickson
Torres
on the 28th June, 2012 at 9:17am
So Xavi is having a sub par tournament, not unlike WC 2010. If Spain wins he will probably get all the credit again. Pathetic.
on the 26th June, 2012 at 10:40am
I think glen johnson is definitely an odd choice cuz, is just like a natural disaster 2 any team. Y on earth roy hodgson didn't even pick tottenham's walker instead of the awful johnson. my team will b: m. neuer p. lahm pepe chiellini coentrao sweinsteiger gerrard pirlo iniesta gomez mandzukic
on the 23rd June, 2012 at 4:15pm
Glen johnson, what an awful selection. At fault for both goals conceeded against Sweden: played everyone onside for the first and was ball watching for the second. performances in all three games have generally been error filled.
Pirlo has been OK for his high standards but would probably swap him for Gerrard.
Despite his excellent performance Balzaretti has only played one game so I question his inclusion.
And if he is selecting off single performances how on earth has Ronaldo not made it?!?!
on the 22nd June, 2012 at 3:09pm
My Team

Buffon

Lahm
Bruno Alves
Hummels
Coentrao

Schweinsteiger
Pirlo
De Rossi

Iniesta
Gomez
Ronaldo
on the 21st June, 2012 at 10:21pm
My Team

Neure

Coentrao
Hummels
Badstuber
Johnson

Ronaldo
Pirlo
Modric
Navas

Gomez
Mandzukic
on the 21st June, 2012 at 8:00pm
I'm usually the first to bash Glen Johnson, but he's had a good tournament. Brilliant, probably goal-saving last ditch tackle on Ibrahimovic that would have put Sweden 3-1 up or given away a penalty had Johnson not made it.
on the 21st June, 2012 at 4:50pm
Agree with the question marks over Johnsons inclusion and the omission of Gerrard. Doesn't seem right that there is not one Spanish player - Iniesta ??
Thiago Motta has been faultless and Pirlo himself acknowledged he hasn't been at his best. Krohn Dehli was superb and Ronaldo's performance against the Dutch arguably the best performance of the tournament.
Pletikosa
Lahm
Chiellini
Hummels
Coentrao
Thiago Motta
Gerrard
Krohn Dehli
Ronaldo
Iniesta
Gomez
on the 21st June, 2012 at 4:43pm
Even though Balzaretti has played only one game so far. He was a monster as was Abate. They created many chances. I don't see an issue with him being on this list. However that could change for any of these players at any time. We'll see!!!!
on the 21st June, 2012 at 3:46pm
Gerrard should be there. He's done very well in all the matches. Ibra should definitly be there, he's looked the best player on the pitch in every match. Definitly the best performer in group D.
on the 21st June, 2012 at 3:25pm
Balzaretti ? Really ? he played one good game, Marchisio was great in three matches played. and Steven Gerard has 3 assists in 3 games, I think that he is worth it !
on the 21st June, 2012 at 3:21pm
Oh dear, Dave Taylor. Glen Johnson? You can't be serious. Why do you think that Hodgson has used Milner instead of the obvious attacking choice of Walcott on the right midfield? To cover for Glen Johnson, who is awful defensively. Theodor Gebreselassie (CZE) has been the best right-back so far. Mandzukic has been better than Dzagoev also.
on the 21st June, 2012 at 3:09pm
balzaretti has good hair
on the 21st June, 2012 at 12:39pm
First of all Balzaretti have only played one game as he was carrying an injury.
Secondly I agree with C Le Galle as to why is Gerrard omitted and Glen Johnsons in there? Unbelievable!
And Finally how can anyone overlook GG Buffon? Amazing in ability, charector and stature.
I guess we all have varied opinions...
on the 21st June, 2012 at 12:24pm
Glen Johnson has been an utter disaster. Lahm should be there instead. Iniesta too
on the 21st June, 2012 at 12:21pm
Unbelievable selections. Glen Johnson? Balzaretti? Seriously? Where the hell is John Terry, Steven Gerrard and Philip Lahm?
on the 21st June, 2012 at 11:47am
Balzaretti have played only in an one match. Moreover, he played against the weakest team of the group and probably weakest team of the tournament. So his presence among top players is exaggeration.
on the 21st June, 2012 at 11:25am
Balzaretti! Really?
on the 21st June, 2012 at 11:05am
Balzaretti?!
on the 21st June, 2012 at 10:31am
Most of the players mentioned here deserve to be. But there are a few odd choices and 2 glaring omissions.

The biggest omission is S. Gerrard. He was brilliant in all matches, inspired all of England's moves forward and helped a lot in defence as well. He filled in a lot for your worst pick G. Johnson. Horrible player for club and country most bizarre pick. Saw him out of position on many occasions.

Other omission is P. Lahm. One of Germany's best players.
on the 21st June, 2012 at 10:22am

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