Euro 2012: Picking the Most Vital Member from Each of the Semifinalists
Italy have booked their place in the semifinals after a masterclass performance from Andrea Pirlo, who almost single-handedly decimated the English team by pulling all the strings in midfield.
Italy now join Portugal, Germany and Spain in the semifinals.
However, it is not only Italy that possess within their ranks players like Pirlo who can take the game by the scruff and help to grind out the necessary results. All teams have one, and here are the most vital members of each team.
Cristiano Ronaldo. If Portugal go on to win the tournament, this man would have played a huge part. Often criticized for disappearing in big games and not performing enough in the international stage, Ronaldo has finally silenced his critics with two back-to-back stupendous performances.
A strong performance in the Euro would also make him a favourite to win the Ballon d’Or.
Germany has a host of players capable of changing the game entirely—Philipp Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Mats Hummels, Mario Gomez. The list goes on.
However, one player that is often overlooked, and who has finally started to assert his presence in the offensive final third, has been Sami Khedira. The Real Madrid star has been an overwhelming presence in the midfield, breaking up play and setting up his counterparts.
And in the past two games, he has been freed up considerably, on account of the fact that Schweinsteiger has sat a bit deeper, and he has been nothing short of spectacular. While opponents might be seeking to close the space around Mesut Özil and Schweinsteiger, Sami Khedira might be the secret weapon of Die Mannschaft to break the deadlock.
For Spain, I would settle for a tie between David Silva and Andres Iniesta. Both have had a great tournament thus far.
Silva’s pass to to Cesc Fabregas in the first game was exemplary, and he blew Ireland out of the water with his superb performance, while Iniesta has been a constant threat in all the games he has featured in. Against Croatia, Iniesta was particularly exceptional.
However, at the end, choosing the best player in Spain is virtually impossible. Like Germany, Spain’s lineup is star-studded, and any reader might pick a different player.
Who will be Man of the Tournament?
No surprises here. Andrea Pirlo has been without equal this entire tournament, having contributed an assist or goal in each of the matches in the group stages and giving England a lesson in midfield excellence.
Against England, almost every move was channelled through him, and he gave perhaps one of the grandest individual performances that I have witnessed.
For me, it's right up there with Roy Keane’s performance against Juventus in the Champions League semifinal in 1999 and Zinedine Zidane’s performance against Brazil in the 2006 World Cup.
AC Milan must be kicking themselves yet again.
Italy now face Germany in the semifinals and will hope Pirlo can yet again overwhelm the opposition and take them to the finals.
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