Picking a Worst XI from Euro 2012
With Italy and Spain getting ready to kickoff in 24 hours for the European Championship, a lot of talk has been centered around how great both these teams have been. The incredible talents of Andres Iniesta, Andrea Pirlo, Xavi and Mario Balotelli have propelled their respective sides within one game of glory.
They will all surely be in the talk for best XI of the tournament, with a handful of other players from teams throughout the tournament who impressed with their play. You will find none of those names on this list.
Let’s take a look back, way back, to the very worst we have witnessed at Euro 2012. Now, I could have made it real easy and just listed the entire Dutch team, but I like to challenge myself more than that. But don't expect to find any subs from the Polish league to be on this list. I am only concerned with the big names who played really small.
Here is the starting XI from Euro 2012 that you actually never want to start.
GK: Michalis Sifakis
It was all going well for the Greek keeper against Germany in the quarterfinals. He has been playing a fine game, keeping the favored side shut out for over half an hour by making a handful of decent saves.
But then he was beat on a relatively simple shot by Philip Lahm off the wing. Poor positioning and even poorer reaction let the left-back's shot curl in off Sifakis’ hand. The golden rule of goalkeeping applies here: “If you get a finger on it, save it!”
Not much he could do on the second score, but the third was wholly his fault. Only playing in two games for his club on the season, he was a bit rusty, and it showed as he came to grab a cross that even Shaq would have had a tough time bringing in. It led to an easy open-net header that Miroslav Klose is not going to miss.
Though two of the four goals were near unstoppable, it was the third that sealed the Greeks' fate. Being down one goal when playing this countering style gave them hope, but two made their chances of progressing even less than that of Greece’s economic recovery.
RB: Gregory Van Der Wiel
Really, this is the highly coveted right-back that is supposed to fix all the woes of my beloved Chelsea?!
This guy is exactly what I thought he was—an over-hyped dunce who is no more capable of defending a man in a one-on-one situation than he is treating a concussion.
It is becoming more and more prevalent today as the game evolves toward this ultra dynamic attacking style, where the role of fullbacks is as much to support the move forward as it is to help back. Young morons will thus forget that they are defenders and always try to go for glory on goal from the oblique angles they play. This was pretty much the MO of van der Wiel this tournament.
Please, Chelsea, back off this stooge!
CB: Richard Dunne
It’s tough for me to do this because I actually really like Richard Dunne. He plays that bull-nosed come-to-close-I’ll-knock-you-in-the-throat style of defense I love. But when you are the leader of a back line that concedes nine goals in three games, you are going get some flak.
To the respect of how Dunne performed himself, he was OK, but the results are hard to ignore. Ireland were always the big underdog in Group C, which was arguably as difficult as the “group of death,” Group B. But I think very few Irish were happy with the way their team performed—that is of course when they remained sober long enough to comprehend it.
CB: Sergei Ignashevich
I feel like every time a Russian athlete makes a mistake, the first thing that goes through their head is, “Thank God for democracy!”
Ignashevish’s stupidly-placed header from a throw-in once used to result in him being sent to the Gulags of Siberia, but now it only sends him back to his mansion in Moscow, as it led to Greece’s only goal against the Russian’s knocking the Group A favorite out of the tournament.
I do not know why Ignashevish thought it was a good idea to do what he did. Maybe he was confused on where his teammates were or there was miscommunication. Either way, he is the one who takes the fall for Giorgios Karagounis running in on goal all alone and scoring.
LB: Michal Kadlec
The only good thing that may come from Michal Kadlec’s tournament is a thank you card from Alan Dzagoev, which will read something like this:
Thank you so much for blowing it against me in the first game. Because I had that breakout opening game, I now play for (TBD), making more money than I ever should and I'm surrounded by the city's most beautiful women! Enclosed is a $20 gift certificate to Applebee's for you to take your family out to dinner on me.
The games got underway poorly for the left-back, as Dzagoev put his name on the map of Europe’s biggest clubs by beating up on Kadlec. In truth, Kadlec is a better defender than how he showed himself this summer, but there probably won’t be many suitors knocking on his door, either.
DCM: Nigel De Jong
The bad boy of the Dutch was instrumental in the Oranje’s results this tournament. Unfortunately for him, they were not too good.
Making a not so impressive 1.7 tackles per game, he let the opposition's midfield carve up space in front of his box, allowing the 18-yard line to take on the appearance of the front wall of one of those milk bottle games at the fair.
To his credit, he did only receive one yellow and no reds, a personal best for him. He also failed to collect any more appendages to add to his trophy case, which has more flesh than silver.
LM: Florent Malouda
This was supposed to be Malouda’s big return after spending a season on the bench at Chelsea. A triumphant recall to the form he showed in 2010 when he was arguably the best left-winger in the world. Instead, it looks like the only winner from this performance is whichever Brazilian team signs him at a discount.
Malouda’s box score has more goose eggs than the Fantastic Mr. Fox! (Insert cliché drum beat.)
Though, he is smart to make a move to Brazil. The alcohol and fine women are plentiful enough to distract the fans from his terrible play.
RM: Arjen Robben
Please don’t tell me I actually have to explain this one? The LeBron James caricature (can’t close when it counts) has even less time than the King—which is evident with his rapidly receding hairline.
Perhaps he should contact the minority Liverpool owner for some advice on how best to wear a headband.
CAM: Samir Nasri
After getting off to a great start against England, he seemed to take one of those eight-week-long vacations they do in France. He was all but absent when he was subbed on against Spain, making no impact when they really needed him to. I guess some Arsenal blood does still run through those veins.
But it was more everything he did afterward that gives him a spot on this squad. After being embarrassed by Spain, he insulted a reporter and acted like a petulant little brat.
FW: Robin van Persie
Have to say, I took delight in seeing what everyone says is the best striker in the world shoot so many misses.
Van Persie was probably the most disappointing thing on a team of disappointments. One goal in three games? Hey Persie, you are supposed to be leading this team to avenging the World Cup loss. All you did was remind them how overrated Dutch players are.
The only person smiling after this will be Arsene Wenger. Now the penny pincher won’t have to break the bank to keep him. Here comes another third- or fourth-place finish for the Gunners!!!
FW: Helder Postiga
For those who suggest that Cristiano Ronaldo has grown up over the past few years, this tournament was a culmination of his maturation. The fact that arguably the world’s best player did not at any point run from wherever he was on the pitch to literally strangle the life out of Postiga puts him on the same level as the Dali Lama.
Can someone explain to me how when you are flanked by Ronaldo and Nani and have Moutinho supplying you from behind, you only get one goal and no assists? Not only that, but he was the worst-rated starter on the team!
A cone would have been a better alternative than Postiga. At least then Ronaldo can know where it will be when he makes a cross.
What Are Your Worst XI?
I don't always understand why people like watching good football. It is much more difficult to criticize and tweet mocking statements about. However, the list above has plenty of room for snide remarks, the kind that I could only make from the safe distance of the Internet.
So who would be your worst XI? Again, don't try and tell me about how terrible the form of some sub in the Ukrainian league was in midfield possession. We know he sucks; that's why he plays in Ukraine! Let's take down the big boys!
As always, please leave your comments below and thanks for reading!
For all my articles, follow me on Twitter: @thecriterionman