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Wednesday, June 20, 2012
I’m always keen when picking a team of the tournament to choose a side that could actually play together and not some hideously lop-sided over-attacking selection.
To me there are three players who must be included: Mats Hummels, Luka Modric and Andrés Iniesta. Modric and Iniesta have both been excellent in both matches I’ve seen them in, neat and tidy in possession while always offering penetration.
The Modric cross for Ivan Rakitic with the outside of his right foot in the second half of Croatia’s 1-0 defeat to Spain was sensational. Hummels, meanwhile, has been the outstanding defender, calm and composed and happy to step up into midfield.
That then means a 4-3-3, with Modric and Iniesta flanking a holding player. It hasn’t been a great tournament for anchors, although Sami Khedira has played well, but Tomas Hubschman’s return was probably the reason for the Czechs finding their balance after the defeat to Russia.
It’s been a good tournament for orthodox forwards: there are cases to be made for Andriy Shevchenko and Mario Mandzukic, but the outstanding central striker so far has been Mario Gomez, both for his finishing and his movement.
Cristiano Ronaldo pips Michael Krohn-Delhi for the place on the left on the strength of a scintillating performance against the Netherlands. Samir Nasri, excellent in the first two games, gets the nod on the right over Nani.
Mathieu Debuchy is perhaps unlucky to miss out at right back, but Theodor Gebre Selassie has been excellent, at least from an attacking point of view. Philipp Lahm is almost an automatic choice in one of the full-back positions: reliable and consistent as he always is.
The other centre-back position is a little trickier. Joleon Lescott has been solid, but the 20 minutes of chaos after half-time of England’s win over Sweden count against him. Gerard Pique has impressed, but alongside Hummels there’s probably need of a more aggressive defender, so fellow German Holger Badstuber wins the nomination.
That leaves just goalkeeper. Maarten Stekelenburg and Joe Hart are up there but I’ve gone for Iker Casillas.
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