Many of us have already debated our own choices for players and team of the tournament in Euro 2008, but this is what the official UEFA Technical panel came up with as their squad of the tournament, and my verdict on the picks:
Goalkeepers: Buffon (Italy), Casillas (Spain), Van Der Sar (The Netherlands)
Difficult to disagree with these solid choices, all three keepers had excellent tournaments and made some great saves.
Defenders: Bosingwa (Portugal), Lahm (Germany), Marchena (Spain), Pepe (Portugal), Puyol (Spain), Zhirkov (Russia)
I find it strange that two Portugal players are picked here. They did not defend well collectively, and only kept one clean sheet in the tournament. Pepe scored a decent goal, and Bosingwa attacked with pace, but neither excelled defensively.
I would not pick Lahm either, he scored a great goal in the Semi-Final but again he is a defender. His defending was abject, pretty much for the whole tournament, culminating in Torres rinsing him in the final and Lahm being subbed at half time.
Croatia defended well as a team, and I think Josip Simunic deserved a pick as the rock in that defence, while Capdevila and Ramos both had better overall tournaments than Lahm, as did Anyukov of Russia.
Midfielders: Altintop (Turkey), Modric (Croatia), Senna (Spain), Xavi (Spain), Zyryanov (Russia), Ballack (Germany), Fabregas (Spain), Iniesta (Spain), Podolski (Germany), Sneijder (Netherlands)
Very odd that Fabregas was picked ahead of Silva here. The regular Spanish midfield was Senna, Silva, Iniesta, and Xavi, and Silva is the only one who misses out. Fabregas played decently when on the pitch, but no better than Silva in my opinion, and Silva scored a brilliant goal in the Semi-Final, albeit set up by Fabregas' incisive pass.
Elsewhere, solid choices, with Bastian Schweinsteiger the only big miss. Maybe his red-card counted against him, as UEFA made a big thing of respect in this tournament. This may also account for Silva's absence, as he could and probably should have been sent off in the Final, by the letter of the law.
Altintop was the pick of the Turkish midfield, so I am happy to see him rewarded although Arda Turan was another decent option.
Attackers: Arshavin (Russia), Pavlyuchenko (Russia), Torres (Spain), Villa (Spain)
Solid choices here. Villa, Pavlyuchenko, and Arshavin were givens as they made a big impact on the finals, although Arshavin could have been chosen under midfielders.
Torres did not have a great tournament overall, but when you score the winner in the final you are always likely to get picked, and he did well enough to be one of the better centre-forwards on show.
I think Semih Senturk could have got a place here, his goals were as dramatic as they were important for his team, and the Turks deserved more than just one place in the squad on the back of a thrilling tournament.
Player Of The Tournament: Xavi (Spain)
Another solid choice, Xavi was outstanding throughout and scored a great goal too in the Semi-Final. I think Senna could have given him a run for his money though, without him the Spanish defence would not have been so secure, as he gave them great protection, and can also play himself with great passing and drive.
I don't think any one player lit up the tournament, in the same way, perhaps a Zidane or a Maradona have done in major tournaments in the past, but the choice had to be a Spaniard as they have been comfortably the best team.
From goalkeeper, to defence, to their brilliant midfield and deadly attack, even the Spanish reserves were excellent in the 3rd group match. They are rightly rewarded with 9 choices in the 23 man squad overall, and it could have even been more.
I am particularly pleased to see that Cristiano Ronaldo has been ignored, not because I have anything against Ronaldo as he is a brilliant player, but he did not have a good tournament. Sometimes players are picked purely based on their name and reputation, so it is nice to see UEFA showing some integrity.
Do you agree with UEFA's choices, or have they ignored your favourite player?
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