Euro 2012: Ranking the Top 10 Strikers So Far
The UEFA Euro 2012 group stage is over, and within the space of just three matches, world football has seen some excellent striker performances.
There are some whose heroic efforts have been in vain, while for others, their stellar showings have catapulted their nations to greater glory at the tournament in Poland and Ukraine.
Here are the top 10 strikers so far at Euro 2012.
10. Andriy Shevchenko, Ukraine
Andriy Shevchenko (bottom left)
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If this list was based solely on the opening game then Ukraine's national hero Andriy Shevchenko would top it.
'Super Sheva' scored twice in the first game against Sweden to give his country a winning start and boost the confidence of the entire nation.
The 35-year-old striker was deservedly man of the match and was an all-round threat, having two more shots on goal and also creating a goal-scoring chance for a teammate.
However, he failed to light up the show against France despite playing the full 90 minutes, and couldn't make an impact in the 20 minutes he played against England, as his team ultimately crashed out of the competition at the first hurdle.
9. Fernando Torres, Spain
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His two well-taken goals in the 4-0 win against the Republic of Ireland epitomize how a striker should play—his first goal the combination of desire, pace, control and power, and his second a perfect blend of movement, acceleration, nerve and accuracy.
In the game against Croatia he also impressed despite not getting on the scoresheet, proving himself as a good focal point of attack with a number of decent efforts on goal.
The signs are good for the £50 million man if he gets a chance in Saturday's quarterfinal with France.
8. Lukas Podolski, Germany
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While Lukas Podolski may not be playing as a prototypical striker for Germany at Euro 2012, the goal-threat he has provided more than qualifies him for this list.
His goal against Denmark on his 100th cap for his country—a remarkable achievement seeing as he's just 27 years old—was an instinctive striker's finish, perfectly combining expert movement and finishing.
And in the games against Portugal and the Netherlands he was also a threat, creating chances for teammates with his movement and link-up play, and showing off his shooting skills with some good shots himself.
If he can continue his form at Euro 2012 and translate it to club level, the new Arsenal signing looks like he could well light up the Premier League.
7. Karim Benzema, France
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Karim Benzema hasn't yet scored at Euro 2012, though he's done everything but find the net.
The Real Madrid striker has been France's playmaker from the front, bringing the wingers into play, creating chances for the midfielders and also working a ton of openings for himself.
He's made more key passes than any other striker at Euro 2012 and has also had the second-most amount of shots on goal in the tournament.
Proving himself as a complete striker for Les Bleus, his passing and vision effectively won his team the game against Ukraine, while against England he could count himself very unlucky not to score.
If he can add a few goals to his game he could easily find himself much further up the list.
6. Nicklas Bendtner, Denmark
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Nicklas Bendtner has established himself as a very average striker in the Premier League for both Arsenal and Sunderland.
For Denmark at Euro 2012 however, the 24-year-old has strangely proven himself as world-class.
He scored two good goals against Portugal, the first coming primarily due to his vision, awareness and passing ability to set up the attack, and his second displaying perfect timing and heading ability.
In the game against Germany he provided the assist for Michael Krohn-Dehli's goal with a powerful header back into the danger zone and also created some decent opportunities against the Netherlands.
A striker has to be world-class to cause problems against three of the best teams in the world, and that's exactly what Bendtner did at Euro 2012.
5. Mario Mandzukic, Croatia
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It takes a special striker to score 75 percent of his team's goals at a major international tournament, and that's exactly what Mario Mandzukic has done after scoring three of Croatia's four goals at Euro 2012.
The Wolfsburg target man has been the focal point for his country throughout the tournament. He has proven himself as a complete forward able to score goals both in the air and on the ground, while his hold-up play and long-range passing ability to facilitate counter-attacks have been second to none in the competition.
Having been a big threat to the last two World Cup winners in Italy and Spain, a big money move beckons this summer for Mario Mandzukic.
4. Danny Welbeck: England
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The fact that Roy Hodgson has started Danny Welbeck in all three of England's Group D games at Euro 2012 speaks volumes for how important the Manchester United forward is to the side.
21-year-old Welbeck has been a consistent goal-threat in each of the Three Lion's matches, with his backeel goal against Sweden the definition of genius and creativity.
And while he didn't get on the scoresheet against France or Ukraine, Welbeck has proven himself as a playmaker of the final third, linking-up with the wingers and strike partner expertly to create space and goalscoring chances.
Out of all the strikers at Euro 2012, Welbeck has the highest pass success rate, which is a very tall order given that most of his passes are when closed down in the final third.
His composure and ability to make things happen on the ball will be key for England in their quarterfinal clash with Italy on Sunday.
3. Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal
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He may have been disappointing in the first two matches but Cristiano Ronaldo deserves his place thanks to his performance against the Netherlands.
It was a showing that has entered the footballing annals and will be remembered for many years to come.
Ronaldo scored twice against the Dutch to give his team a 2-1 win and catapult it into the quarterfinals.
He could've doubled his tally having hit the post twice and he also had a further eight shots on the Holland goal. He also created three goalscoring chances for teammates.
It was the perfect all-round attacking display and the perfect example to set as national team captain, as the 27-year-old proved his doubters wrong and boosted his side's hope of greater glory, as well as the morale of an entire nation.
2. Mario Gomez, Germany
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If there's one player who has been more important than any other for Germany it's Mario Gomez.
The Bayern Munich striker has scored or created a game-winning goal in each of his three matches in Group B, following up his goal in the 1-0 win against Portugal with a brace to beat the Netherlands 2-1 before an assist in the 2-1 win against Denmark.
All three goals were textbook striker finishes, with his goal against Portugal displaying perfect heading accuracy and his efforts against the Dutch showing how to break through a defense and finish with aplomb.
The 26-year-old has been the main threat in attack for his team, and on the basis of his current performances, there's no reason why he can't go on and score the title-winning goals for his country.
1. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Sweden
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If Zlatan Ibrahimovic played for a better team than Sweden then he'd surely end up as a Euro 2012 champion.
His country may have crashed out of the tournament but Sweden were saved from complete embarrassment by their AC Milan striker.
Ibrahimovic's goal against France—the best of the competition so far—was a sensational volley with perfect technique and it capped off an excellent game from the 30-year-old in which he again proved himself as his nation's only hope up front, creating two goalscoring chances for teammates.
The big forward has made the second highest amount of key passes at Euro 2012 and has also been a supremely accurate finisher, hitting more shots on target than any other player.
He also scored a well-taken goal in the first match against Ukraine, and was unlucky not to double his tally having hit the post, while against England he again was a major threat with six shots on goal and four on target.
Statistically he's been a better striker than anyone else at Euro 2012 so far. Just by watching Zlatan Ibrahimovic play it's very much clear that it is the case.