Euro 2012 Power Rankings: Grading the Top 16 Players After the Group Stage
The Group Stage at Euro 2012 is over. Each and every team has had their chance to show the world what they've got and more importantly, who they've got.
While no team has been brilliant, one or two have built momentum, and as the quarter-finals roll around, there are a large number of players, the likes of Andrea Pirlo, Xavi Hernandez, Mario Gomez and Cristiano Ronaldo, who are all looking to lead their team to victory.
Which players have captured the eye and stood tall when others around them have wilted?
Who had the strength of character to lead their team to the quarter-finals when all else had failed?
And who has just been brilliant?
Here I look at the top 16 players of Euro 2012 so far.
Read on for the complete rankings, and be sure to leave your top stars in the comments below.
16. Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Sweden) (Ratings- 8-5-8
The AC Milan forward has been brilliant at Euro 2012 and has capped off his three performances with two man-of-the-match awards.
Much had been said about his character before the competition, but he really put in a captain's role and led by example as Sweden exited the tournament.
15. Michael Krohn-Dehli (Denmark) (Ratings 8-7-7)
While all eyes were on Ajax's Christian Eriksen, it was the Dane's Michael Krohn-Dehli that stood out for Morten Olsen's side.
The 29-year-old Brondby midfielder waded in with two goals and an assist as Denmark missed out on getting to the quarter-finals, but it was the manner of his performances that make him stand out as one of the best performers in Euro 2012.
14. Mario Mandzukic (Croatia) (Ratings- 8-8-6)
The giant Wolfsburg striker was outstanding in Spain's first two games against Ireland and Italy but paid the price for his manager tinkering in Game 3 against Spain.
It was always going to be next to impossible for Croatia to get the win they needed in the final game, but neither their nor Mandzukic's cause were helped by Slaven Bilic choosing to play one up front.
In the end, his final performance in Euro 2012 was functional rather than inspirational, but he still managed to make a nuisance of himself against the odds.
13. Petr Jiracek (Czech Republic) (Ratings 7-7-8)
Jiracek is having the time of his life at Euro 2012 and is the second Wolfsburg player, after Croatia's Mario Mandzukic, to impress so such during the group stages.
The right sided midfielder is full of energy and running and has yet to let Michal Bilek down in terms of attack or defence.
With his all-action style and honesty of play, Jiracek is a player that is very hard to mark out of a game and Portugal should be more than aware of the threat he carries.
12. Pepe (Portugal) (Ratings 7-7-8)
In quite a turn around to his Real Madrid persona, Pepe has been the quiet man of Euro 2012.
The 29-year-old has been a rock at the back in what many regard as the best Portuguese team of all-time.
He has done all the dirty work you would expect of any top class defender without any of the histrionics that have marred his time at Madrid and he is such a positive and leading influence on the pitch, you can easily see why even Cristiano Ronaldo defers to him.
11. Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal) (Ratings 7-7-9)
Going into the last game, Holland and Portugal both needed to win to progress to the quarter-finals so it was always going to be a real test of character.
So when the going got tough, Ronaldo got going.
He had already played well in the two previous group games against Germany and Denmark without thoroughly impressing. But the captain's performance, when the chips were down, losing 1-0 to the Dutch, was all anyone needed to see that the Portuguese deserves his reputation as one of the best players in the world.
10. Bastian Schweinsteiger (Germany) (Ratings 7-9-7)
The German and Bayern Munich vice captain has played a number of roles in just three games from the same position at Euro 2012.
Against Portugal in Game 1, he dictated the tempo against a combative side looking for a draw. In Game 2 against Holland, he was brilliant as he drove at the heart of the Dutch defence and midfield and exploited where they were weakest while Mario Gomez took all the plaudits.
And in Game 3, he sat back and shielded his defence in a very disciplined role that set the tone for the rest of the team in terms of professionalism.
He is a great player in what could be a great team.
9. Daniele De Rossi (Italy) (Ratings 8-8-7)
For Italy's first two games of Euro 2012, De Rossi was deployed as a defender and was thouroughly outstanding.
Against Ireland in Italy's final game, Prandelli wisely chose to move him back into his normal role in central midfield and it was this move that provided the foundation for their progress to the quarter-finals.
The Irish were always going to be combative more than anything else and it was important that a warrior like De Rossi fought them head on. And fight them he did.
8. Mesut Ozil (Germany) (Ratings 8-8-7)
If you are looking for a playmaker in the German side, you need look no further than Mesut Ozil. The Real Madrid man is developing a reputation as the kind of player who can spray the ball all over the park and with him in the side, Die Mannschaft have a potent weapon to open the tightest of defences.
He has improved steadily over Germany's three games and is nearing the kind of form you need to win a major trophy.
7. Sergio Ramos (Spain) (Ratings 8-8-7)
The Real Madrid defender has been a real rock for La Roja at Euro 2012. Although he plays as centre-half for his club team, he is usually deployed at right for Spain and with Carles Puyol out he has slotted right in without missing a beat.
Like Pepe, there have been no histrionics and he is playing with such beautiful simplicity that you can see why good defending is an art form.
6. Luka Modric (Croatia) (Ratings 8-8-8)
The Tottenham Hotspur man is the one true talent in the Croatia squad. Having done everything in his power against Ireland and Italy, the little man came up against an immovable object in Game 3—Spain.
Despite that, he was easily the best Croat player on show. But when push came to shove, he was just a class or two above his own team for them to have the ability to read his passes and quick thinking.
Like every footballer, he must look on the Spanish team with envy, but not for the same reasons as others, because Modric would fit right in to Vincente Del Bosque's team without even breaking a sweat.
5. Steven Gerrard (England) (Ratings 8-8-8)
Despite coming through Group D as winners, England have not been good at Euro 2012, bar Steven Gerrard.
The Liverpool man, playing deeper than normal, has been the one bright spot for Roy Hodgson's team as they stumbled through the group.
He plays with all the good attributes you would associate with English football, but he marries it with wit and intellect and a great football brain that just knows what is happening all over the pitch.
4. Andrea Pirlo (Italy) (Ratings 9-8-7)
The Juventus midfielder is unbeaten in over a year in club football and he has carried his superb form into Euro 2012.
He is Italy's most important player and makes the rest of the team tick, be it defensive support, attacking threat or putting his foot in where others fear to tread.
Pirlo is also the last of dying generation of midfielders who can do absolutely everything and it will be more than interesting to see how his 33-year-old legs carry him through the rest of the tournament.
3. David Silva (Spain) (Ratings 8-8-8)
The Manchester City man is a little genius with a never-say-die attitude and complements the rest of his contemporaries in the Spanish team perfectly.
Drifting between midfield and the final third, Silva has a phenomenal ability to read the game and shows up in exactly the right position every time he is needed.
It says much that he has been involved with practically every single goal La Roja have scored in the competition.
2. Andres Iniesta (Spain) (Ratings 8-9-8)
The quiet man of the Spain squad does all his talking with his feet. And when he does it, he is as beautiful to watch as reading any sonnet from William Shakespeare.
Doing all the damage for Spain and linking the attack to midfield in the final third of the field—there is no one better at the role in world football.
He is the most creative and selfless player in the competition, is blessed with an almost telepathic and emphatic ability to always know where his teammates are and to always choose the right pass, regardless of whether it denies him a goal or not.
1. Xavi (Spain) (Ratings 8-9-8)
The little maestro has been in imperious form over Spain's three group games but the hard work is only just beginning.
No other player in the competition is as influential or as skillful at dictating the pace and tempo of a match and he does it with such effortless ease. He is a true great and giant amongst players of the modern age or any age for that matter.
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