Saturday, June 28, 2008

Euro XI

With Sunday's Euro 2008 final between Germany and Spain fast approaching, I thought I would compile sort of an All-Euro team comprised of the best players of the tournament. I have no idea whether they do this in real life or not, but it's a pretty good idea, no? Without further ado, here is The Train of Thought Euro XI:

Iker Casillas, Spain (Real Madrid)
Without a doubt, the most clear-cut selection to this team. Seen by many as the best keeper in the world, Casillas cemented his spot with a stellar performance in penalty kicks in the quarterfinals against Italy.

Philipp Lahm, Germany (Bayern Munich)
The diminutive left back may not be known for his outright defending skills, but he more than makes up for that going forward along the flank and contributing to German attacks. His assist to Miroslav Klose, then his brilliant run and one-two with Thomas Hitzlsperger that lead to his 90th minute winner against Turkey earned him a spot on this team.

Carles Puyol, Spain (Football Cunts Barcelona*)
His solid play and leadership in the center of defense has helped Spain reach its first major tournament final since 1984.

Denis Kolodin, Russia (Dynamo Moscow)
His thunderous shots from 25-30 yards out raised plenty of eyebrows, but Kolodin was just as effective as a member of a Russian backline that, apart from an opening-game blowout loss to Spain, only surrendered two goals in three games, including a shutout of Sweden (Kolodin was suspended for Russia's semifinal loss to Spain).

Robert Kovac, Croatia (Borussia Dortmund)
Kovac led one of the most airtight defenses of Euro 2008. The team registered two clean sheets in its first three matches and held Turkey scoreless for over 120 minutes of its quarterfinal match until a miracle goal, then a loss in PK's eliminated the unlucky Croatians.

Wesley Sneijder, The Netherlands (Real Madrid)
The most electrifying player for the high-flying Dutchmen (get it?), Sneijder scored one of the best goals of the tournament from a nearly-impossible angle against Italy. He was clearly frustrated by the Russians, but that doesn't erase the brilliance he showed during the group stages.

Bastian Schweinsteiger, Germany (Bayern Munich)
He exhibited style and flair rarely associated with the German team and played his way into the starting lineup after registering a goal and two assists in the quarterfinals against Portugal. Schweinsteiger followed that performance with a goal in the semis against Turkey.

Cesc Fabregas, Spain (Arsenal)
Another player who inexplicably doesn't start for his team, Fabregas' effect has been clearly visible as he's amassed a goal and three assists coming off the bench.


David Villa, Spain (Valencia)
Villa terrorized opposing defenses in the first few games of the tournament and while his scoring has slowed since then, his four goals still lead all players thus far. Unfortunately, Villa will miss the final due to a thigh injury.

Nihat Kahveci, Turkey (Villareal)
This man only scored two goals for Turkey but those two goals came three minutes apart, erasing a 2-1 deficit against the Czech Republic in the 86th and 89th minutes to send his squad through to the knockout rounds.

Andrei Arshavin, Russia (St. Zenit Petersburg)
Easily the most talked-about player of Euro 2008, Arshavin lived up to the hype in his first two matches. Even though he failed to do so in Russia's loss to Spain, his spot on this team is still warranted.

As for the Spain-Russia match, it definitely failed to match the excitement most people were expecting. Spain methodically took apart the Russians despite losing top-scorer Villa to injury early in the match. Russia lacked the urgency and drive of its previous matches, but what's not to like about a Spain-Germany final? I'm eagerly awaiting it.

*Until F.C. Barcelona stops relentlessly going after Arsenal players every single summer, I will refer to them in this manner instead of Football Club Barcelona.

1 comment:

  1. I'd add an additional choice of Bamma of the tournament, going to the manager of the winning team, Luis Aragones. While Spain came out victorious, Aragones seemed to be doing his best "mole" impression by attempting to sabotage his team from within. Although they became a much more fluid and creative team whenever he played, he refused to start cesc until injuries forced his hand in the final. Regardless of how he had played, he routinely subbed out all around beast Fernando Torres for the useless Daniel Guiza, who may have won the golden boot in spain last season but proved him self to be a footballing clod at the international level during this tournament.

    Luis Aragones, you are the bamma of the tournament... tournament... tournament...