TEAMtalk selects the European Championships’ best XI, with France most represented despite losing out to Portugal in the final.
HUGO LLORIS (FRANCE): The French captain gets the nod after some fine saves at important times, with the fact he led his country to the final edging him ahead of Rui Patricio, Michael McGovern and Lukasz Fabianski to the spot in goal.
DARIJO SRNA (CROATIA): Chosen ahead of Chris Gunter, Joshua Kimmich and Kyle Walker. Not only did he perform impressively but did so while coping with the death of his father. Srna flew home for the funeral during the group stage but did not miss a match.
LEONARDO BONUCCI (ITALY): The Azzurri back line was thoroughly impressive at Euro 2016, with the composed, imposing centre-back the stand-out performer. Not only a key player defensively but able to provide incisive passes, such as the one he laid on for Emanuele Giaccherini’s goal against Belgium. Bonucci’s penalty to level against Germany underlined his ability to lead by example.
PEPE (PORTUGAL): The champions triumphed thanks largely to a rock-solid foundation and it was Pepe the pantomime villain who marshalled their defence after a ropey group campaign. After Jose Fonte replaced Ricardo Carvalho following the 3-3 draw with Iceland, Portugal conceded only one goal through the knockout stages, with Pepe turning in an imperious display int he final to shut out the hosts.
JONAS HECTOR (GERMANY): Full-backs had looked the weakest aspect of the world champions’ team before the tournament in France, yet the Cologne left-back, like Kimmich, has looked solid. An impressive outlet in attack when required to dribble or send in crosses, Hector pips Portugal’s Raphael Guerreiro to the left-back berth.
AARON RAMSEY (WALES): You only needed to see the semi-final display against Portugal to see how important the absent Arsenal midfielder has been to Wales. Ramsey impressed along with Joe Allen and his passing range – and know-how on when to keep possession – was crucial in the historic run to the last four, so too his defensive contribution.
TONI KROOS (GERMANY): The 26-year-old is one of the best midfielders in Europe, with his mixture of incredible passing range and equally-impressive vision. Dictated proceedings for Germany but was unable to prevent his country bowing out to hosts France in the semi-finals.
DIMITRI PAYET (FRANCE): Initially dismissed by Didier Deschamps, the West Ham man’s form led to a recall and what an inspired decision it has proven. Outstanding for the hosts with two man-of-the-match displays and as many goals in the group stage, Payet continued to impress in the knock-out stages, scoring a sublime effort against Iceland, but like all his team-mates, failed to shine in the final.
CRISTIANO RONALDO (PORTUGAL): The 31-year-old started slowly and was mocked by some as the Portuguese stumbled through the group behind Hungary and Iceland. But Ronaldo shone against the former and was the catalyst as Fernando Santos’ men overcame Wales, deservedly winning the man-of-the-match award as he took his tournament tally to three goals and three assists. Injury heartbreak deprived the final of his talent but the captain took on the role of chief cheerleader to drive his team to glory from the sidelines.
ANTOINE GRIEZMANN (FRANCE): Following a fine season with Atletico Madrid, it should perhaps come as little surprise to see Griezmann shining so brightly for the home nation. A fine finisher and intelligent in possession, the 25-year-old’s brace against world champions Germany saw the home nation into the final, taking his tally to six for the tournament. Missed a glorious chance in the final but France were there largely because of his goals.
GARETH BALE: (WALES): Brought Real Madrid’s winning mentality to the Welsh team on their first major tournament appearance for 58 years. Bale talked a good game in France and backed it up with performances, netting in all three group matches and continuing to shine as Chris Coleman’s men made it all the way to the last four.