With Euro 2012 behind us, it is time to cast some blame upon those who fully deserve it. Here's a starting XI of players who had certain responsibilities and promises to live up to but failed miserably.
Designating the worst goalkeeper of the tournament is perhaps the most arduous task, as howlers had been kept to minimum throughout the tournament. However, selecting one is a must, and thus, Shay Given is selected. The Irish finished with a goal difference of negative eight, the worst goal difference amongst all the competitors, and part of the blame must go to the keeper.
Shay Given has always been a composed goalkeeper throughout his career, but this tournament will be one he will seek to forget soon, especially considering Giovanni Trapattoni was lauded for fostering a defensive resilience within the team.
Gregory van der Wiel entered the tournament as a hot prospect. Considered one of the bright, young full-backs scouted by major clubs, there was an obvious hype surrounding the Dutchman. But he failed spectacularly on all fronts. Shrugging off his defensive duties while failing to link up with offensive players cements Gregory van der Wiel ‘s place in this list.
Patrice Evra was supposed to make amends for what had transpired the last time France were at a major tournament. However, he got limited playing time, signifying that he has waned as both a capable leader and a capable full-back. Patrice Evra’s career, at least on the international front, must be coming to an end.
Most of the central defenders performed admirably for their teams. John Terry, Mats Hummels et al. were all outstanding. No big name flopped. Hence, it makes the selection even more difficult. Perhaps Richard Dunne warrants an inclusion because of the results. His positioning was spot on, and he showed a strong presence at the heart of the Irish defence.
Adil Rami, who plies his trade at Valencia, partners Dunne at the heart of defence. Against both Sweden and Spain, he was caught out of position and caught ball watching more than often than not.
At midfield, it’s fairly easy to designate the worst flops.
At center-midfield is the combination of Mark van Bommel and Christian Eriksen.
The former, once a great ball-winner mentioned in the same breath as Claude Makalele and Gennaro Gatusso, looks like a shadow of his former self. He committed unnecessary fouls, tackled recklessly and offered very little in the offensive half. Van Bommel posits a further dilemma in that if you do take him out, there is gaping hole in midfield, which can be ruthlessly abused by the opposition.
Christian Eriksen, hailed as the new “Michael Laudrup,” failed to assert himself in the tournament. While the likes of Michael Krohn-Dehli and Nicklas Bendtner were impressive, Eriksen failed to live up to his hype.
At no point did Eriksen look like the charismatic, dynamic playmaker we have been accustomed to witnessing at Ajax.
The right-wing spot goes to eternal ball hog Arjen Robben, while left-wing goes to Ashley Young, who had perhaps the most dismal tournament of all the players.
It was finally time for Robin van Persie to shine at the international stage, but like almost all of his over-hyped colleagues, barring Wesley Sneijder, he failed to live up to his potential. Yes, there was a beautiful goal against Germany, but otherwise, he was utterly wasteful.
Partnering him is Robert Lewandowski. Lewandowski, one of my personal favourites, was sensational for Borussia Dortmund, linking well with Shinji Kagawa, and helping Dortmund to retain their title. However, like Robin van Persie, he failed to take all his chances at the Euros. Especially against Czech Republic, when the Poles dominated the first half, he did not stamp his authority upon the game.
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