Euro 2012: Picking a Best XI After the Second Round of Group Matches
Now that each team in Euro 2012 has played twice, it's time to take a look at who has stood out in their performances.
With a footballing XI in a valid formation (4-3-3 in this instance) it was always going to be hard to choose a handful of players from 16 different teams.
Here is a best XI based on their Euro 2012 performances to date.
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It's tough to pick out a goalkeeper that has performed exceptionally when we have hardly had time to draw breath from the most recent results.
Hugo Lloris of France, and Iker Casillas of Spain were serious considerations for the award, but Germany's Manuel Neuer just edges it due to the superior opponents that he has faced thus far.
Having played against the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Robin Van Persie and Arjen Robben, Neuer has only conceded one goal in his two matches.
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Similarly to Manuel Neuer, Philipp Lahm has enjoyed a terrific start to Euro 2012 whilst not making any mistakes against big opposition.
The Bayern Munich and Germany captain has led by example in his 100% start to the campaign.
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Real Madrid and Spain defender Sergio Ramos has chopped his hair off but kept his footballing abilities in check. No Samson-syndrome there then.
Ramos—whilst not doing anything outstandingly memorable—has been mistake-free and solid in his opening two appearances for Spain.
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Having snubbed Rio Ferdinand and coped with the injury of Gary Cahill, England manager Roy Hodgson opted to play Joleon Lescott alongside John Terry in the heart of his defense.
Lescott repaid the faith by scoring the opening goal against France with a powerful header.
He won't have liked conceding two goals against Sweden, but Lescott has adapted himself to international football seamlessly well. He deserves much credit.
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Daniel Agger was absolutely immense in his performance against Holland—perhaps deserving of the man of the match performance even.
Following up that game, Agger featured against Germany and made some excellent challenges.
Denmark still have a chance of progressing—a situation that owes a lot to Agger's defensive capabilities.
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Despite the fact that colleague Cesc Fabregas has notched two goals to David Silva's one, Silva has dovetailed his effort with an impressive three assists in Euro 2012.
That combination means the Manchester City midfielder has been involved in four of Spain's five goals in the tournament thus far.
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Russia's Alan Dzagoev has alerted a number of European club managers since his electric start to the Euro 2012 championships.
Dzagoev has notched three goals in his first two games in Euro 2012 and is allegedly out of contract at the end of the calendar year.
Dzagoev's performances have rewarded Russia with four points out of a possible six.
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Steven Gerrard deserves a shout out for his two assists in two games for England, but Theo Walcott's impact has been outstanding.
Having played just one minute of football in England's opener against France, Walcott came off the bench against Sweden to change his nation's fortunes.
Walcott now boasts one goal and one assist in just over 30 minutes of football—a highly impactive ratio.
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Mario Gomez has proved to Germany manager Joachim Low that he was right to start him ahead of the legendary Miroslav Klose in Euro 2012.
Having netted the winner in his opening match against Portugal, Gomez then went one better and notched two goal's against the Netherlands, giving Germany a 100% start to their European campaign.
Gomez has been the striker of the tournament thus far.
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Croatia's Mario Mandzukic is a surprise addition to the top XI players of the tournament so far.
The Wolfsburg striker has netted three goals in Euro 2012 from just four shots at goal—a statistic that highlights the forward player's lack of profligacy when given an opportunity to score.
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Andriy Shevchenko rolled back the years in Ukraine's opening match against Sweden, netting two goals and giving the co-hosts an opening match 2-1 victory.
Shevchenko was kept a little quieter by France in Ukraine's second game, but the 35-year-old was a constant menace and goal threat when given some room.
An impressive opening gambit by the former Chelsea striker.
Having completed this best XI, I would like to add to tip my hat to the following players who almost made the list:
Vaclav Pilar—Czech Republic
Who would your best XI be? Comment below and let me know who would make your team.
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