Euro 2012 Power Rankings: Grading the Top 16 Players After the Quarterfinals
The quarterfinals at Euro 2012 are over. Each and every team has had their chance to show the world what they've got, and more importantly, who they've got, and now, we're left with the four best teams in the competition: Spain, Germany, Portugal and Italy.
With only the semifinals and the final left to play, the tournament is all but over, and there have been a number of players who have really risen to the occasion from Ronaldo to Steven Gerrard and Bastian Schweinsteiger, amongst others.
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 quarterfinals 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. Philip Lahm (Germany) (Ratings 6-7-7-8: 28/40)
The German and Bayern Munich captain may be slight of stature, but he is a giant of a man.
The further his team goes in Euro 2012, the better he gets.
During the group stages, he was efficient without being brilliant, but his performance against Greece firmly put him amongst the best players in the competition so far.
With the chips down and Greece proving a tough nut to crack, he stepped up when others were beginning to wilt and scored one of the goals of the tournament to re-ignite some of his teammates' flagging performances.
15. Petr Jiracek (Czech Republic) (Ratings 7-7-8-6: 28/40)
While the Czech Republic fell victim to Portugal in the first quarterfinal, the biggest victim of the defeat was probably Petr Jiracek.
Jiracek had excelled in the group stages as an all-action attacking midfielder and had even waded in with a couple of goals as the Czech's came from the dead after a 4-1 opening defeat to Russia to qualify for the knock-out stages.
However, when facing Portugal, Michal Bilek chose to play defensively, and in effect, he neutered his best player. A bad decision that, perhaps, cost them a place in the semifinals.
14. Mats Hummels (Germany) (Ratings 7-7-7-7: 28/40)
Mats Hummels started off Euro 2012 as Joachim Loew's cover for centre half, but form and injuries conspired to give the Borussia Dortmund man a starting berth, and he has not looked back.
The 23-year-old has grown as a player the further his team gets, and he will face bigger tests if they are to win Euro 2012.
However, the early evidence suggests he may be up to the task, and he comes across as a German football personified: cool on and off the ball.
13. Xabi Alonso (Spain) (Ratings 7-7-7-8: 29/40)
He is the silent voice in Spain's great team, going about his business with great effect, while all those around him take the plaudits for their style of play and victories.
As a playmaker, Alonso has few peers. He controls deep midfield and is just as important a link as Iniesta while doing exactly the same job at the other end of the field.
12. Steven Gerrard (England) (Ratings 8-8-8-5: 29/40)
After being England's best player in the group stages, Steven Gerrard put in one of his worst performances in recent years when he was out-classed against Italy in the quarterfinals.
Before that fateful game, Gerrard was easily England's best and most potent player of a disappointing Euro 2012. He is the one midfielder England have that is capable of keeping the ball and being creative at the same time and was really head and shoulders above his teammates.
11. David Silva (Spain) (Ratings 8-8-8-5: 29/40)
David Silva was brilliant for Spain as they strolled through the group stages. He was on fire against Italy, Croatia and Ireland, but utterly disappointed against France.
But then again, Spain never had to get out of second gear to beat Laurent Blanc's side and was the gulf between the two teams.
However, given the phenomenal range of talent Vicente Del Bosque has at his disposal, Silva will have to work to keep his place in the semifinals.
10. Pepe (Portugal) (Ratings 7-7-8-7: 29/40)
Pepe has been brilliant at Euro 2012 for Portugal. The Real Madrid man has been pushed back into the centre-back position by Paulo Bento, and both he and A Seleccao have reaped the benefits.
He has done everything with quiet confidence and organises everything defensively for Bento so Ronaldo, and Nani can do what they do best.
9. John Terry (England) (Ratings 8-6-7-9: 30/40)
He has his fair share of detractors, but John Terry has been brilliant for England throughout Euro 2012. And it is no exaggeration to say that he is probably the finest central defender on show at the tournament.
He was brilliant against France in the opening game and was phenomenal against Italy in the one-sided quarterfinal with decent performances in between.
He is a rock at the back for the Three Lions and really is capable of awe-inspiring performances, such as his showing against Italy.
8. Bastian Schweinsteiger (Germany) (Ratings 7-9-7-7: 30/40)
Germany have eased into the semifinals after making light work of the group of death, Holland, Denmark and Portugal, and then Greece in the quarter finals.
And on each and every occasion the foundation has been set and provided by Bastian Schweinsteiger. The German and Bayern Munich midfielder is the most important player in either team and is often asked to play a number of different roles, even if it means sacrificing himself for the better of the team.
He did this against Denmark and against Greece and allowed the attacking players the platform to do what they do best, but it wouldn't happen without Schweinsteiger.
7. Sergio Ramos (Spain) (Ratings 7-8-8-7: 30/40)
Sergio Ramos has been a real rock for La Roja at Euro 2012. Although he is usually deployed at right for Spain, he has slotted right in and has replaced Carles Puyol without missing a beat.
He has been just as important for Spain as Xavi and Iniesta, and he really is the future for his country at centre-half.
6. Daniele De Rossi (Italy) (Ratings 8-8-7-7: 30/40)
It is somewhat ironic that Daniele De Rossi, one of the best midfielders at Euro 2012, has put in his best performances for the Azzurri at centre-back.
In their first two games at the Euros, Italy played Spain and Croatia, De Rossi was nothing less than brilliant and was a real calm and assured figure at the back.
Then, when Prandelli was faced with the combative nature of the Irish and English midfields, he was pushed into centre midfield to provide a bit of steel and to bring something of a combative nature as Italy looked to fight fire with fire, and again, he was excellent.
Play him wherever, and he is almost without peer.
5. Andres Iniesta (Spain) (Ratings 8-9-8-6: 31/40)
Like many of his teammates, Andres Iniesta has had a very good Euro 2012. He was instrumental as Spain walked through Group C without too much hassle and was good without being great as they eased past France in the quarterfinals.
He does all the damage for Spain by linking the attack to midfield in the final third of the field, and there really 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.
4. Mesut Ozil (Germany) (Ratings 8-8-7-8: 31/40)
Mesut Ozil is Germany's most potent playmaker. The 23-year-old Real Madrid player is ultra-important for Joachim Loew and Die Mannschaft, as he is the only player with the range of passing needed to bring every player and every type of attack to Germany's game-plan.
It speaks volumes of just how good he is that both Denmark and Greece have tried everything to keep him out of the game—and failed miserably.
3. Xavi (Spain) (Ratings 9-9-8-6: 32/40)
The Barcelona star was in imperious form over Spain's three group games and ran the show against France in the quarterfinals—without even breaking sweat.
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.
2. Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal) (Ratings 7-7-9-9: 32/40)
Cristiano Ronaldo has had a great Euro 2012. The Real Madrid forward has inspired Portugal as they progressed to the semifinals and has really risen to the occasion and the expectation of being one of the best players in the world.
He was nothing less than inspirational against Holland and the Czech Republic, and when you consider that he has played 73 matches this season, for club and country, the fact that his performances are still of such a high level just amazes.
1. Andrea Pirlo (Italy) (Ratings 9-8-7-9: 33/40)
Andrea Pirlo has been sensational for Italy at Euro 2012.
From his opening game master class against Spain to his quarterfinal master class against England, he has provided a real lesson in expert midfield play. Whether he is positioning himself defensively or in attack or whether he is spraying the ball around like confetti, the Juventus midfield general was been nothing less than exceptional.