Eden Hazard and Antoine Griezmann take centre in the last-16 Team of the Week
- 29 Jun 2016
The first chapter of the Euro 2016 knockout stages, the last-16, whizzed by with a flurry of cracking goals, costly errors and shock upsets. Below we pluck out 11 players who shone during this stage of the competition.
GK - Gianluigi Buffon (Italy)
Veteran shot-stopper Gianluigi Buffon has still yet to concede at this summer’s showpiece spectacle - he was rested for the Ireland game - and judging by Monday’s performance against Spain you can see why. The goalkeeper was imperious between the posts, effortlessly swatting away everything the holders hurled in his direction, with his late save from Gerard Pique just world class.
DEF - Mattia de Sciglio (Italy)
Italy’s defence has excelled at Euro 2016, conceding just once en route to the quarter-finals. The Italians faced their sternest test yet against defending champions Spain, but once again their organisation ???, with full back Mattia de Sciglio once again singled out for praise. The 23-year-old caused a plethora of problems going forwards down the left flank, while his defensive positioning and reading of the game were top notch.
DEF - Jerome Boateng (Germany)
Germany barely gave Slovakia a sniff at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy as they whipped up their best performance of the tournament to date. Centre-back Jerome Boateng bossed the back line, and will be beaming at his absolute belter of an opening goal - his first for Germany.
DEF - Ragnar Sigurdsson (Iceland)
The whole Iceland team could have made this team of the last-16. The country’s incredible ability to work as a cohesive unit has been one of the talking points of the tournament, and on Monday they put on their best performance yet in a 2-1 win over England. Centre back Ragnar Sigurdsson was simply immense in defence and it was his 6th minute goal which changed the landscape of the game.
MID - Aron Gunnarsson (Iceland)
Aron Gunnarsson’s incredible work ethic was clear for all to see in what was an incredible lung0busting performance in Iceland’s shock win over England. The skipper worked tirelessly, harassing each and every England player – and it was his effective long throw-in which set up Sigurosson’s equaliser.
MID - Toni Kroos (Germany)
As he’s done for Real Madrid all season, Toni Kroos effortlessly ran the show in midfield. Germany’s nucleus was involved in each and every build-up, toying with Slovakia, creating numerous chances, and firing in four shots of his own.
MID - Kevin De Bruyne (Belgium)
Eden Hazard may have grabbed the headlines (see below) but Kevin De Bruyne again produced a glittering performance for his country. The Man City man was involved in a flurry of Belgium attacks, and on another day he could easily have bagged a brace, at least.
AM - Xherdan Shaqiri (Switzerland)
Switzerland may have, eventually, lost out on penalties, but one player who can hold his head high is Xherdan Shaqiri. With eight minutes of normal time remaining a frustrated Swiss side simply couldn’t break through a resolute and stubborn Poland. There only hope would be a moment of majestic brilliance. Step up Shaqiri. In the blink of an eye the Stoke man belted home the goal of the tournament - a simply stunning acrobatic overhead kick from 18 yards out.
AM - Julian Draxler (Germany)
Julian Draxler capped off a superb performance with a superb goal as Germany breezed into the last-8 after a comprehensive 3-0 victory over Slovakia. The attacking midfielder, who also assisted Mario Gomez’s goal, is sure to have Europe’s top clubs scrambling after his signature following a incisive performance brimming with versatility and attacking intent.
AM - Eden Hazard (Belgium)
Eden Hazard’s torrid 2015/16 season for Chelsea has been well documented, but the ? was the player of the last-16 – bagging a superb ? in a scintillating individual performance. Hazard grabbed the third goal of the game – cutting in from the left, waltzing past a few players before firing past a helpless Gabor Kiraly.
FWD - Antoine Griezmann (France)
They say the world’s best players produce in moments of extreme pressure, and that’s exactly what Antoine Griezmann did against Ireland in the last-16. The 25-year-old’s well-taken four-minute brace rescued France from an unthinkable defeat, as France booked their spot in the quarter-finals.
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