Ranking Barcelona's Players on Their Performances at Euro 2016
Barcelona's players all left without a trophy—that's not a common sentence.
After claiming seven of nine possible titles across the last two domestic seasons, Barcelona's stars were part of national teams that came up short at Euro 2016.
The regular Spanish contingent was sent home by Italy in the round of 16, where Ivan Rakitic's Croatia also fell. Elsewhere, Arda Turan's Turkey didn't make it out of their group; Thomas Vermaelen's Belgium were surprised by Wales in the quarter-finals; new signing Samuel Umtiti went agonisingly close in the final with France.
But that doesn't mean those players weren't successes individually. Indeed, Turan aside, on a personal level Barcelona's players largely enjoyed strong campaigns in France.
With Spain, Andres Iniesta and Gerard Pique in particular were among the best, and Rakitic was excellent with Croatia. In the colours of the hosts, Umtiti had a hugely impressive breakout performance against Germany, while even the rarely sighted Vermaelen was a prominent figure in defence for Belgium.
So how did their collective performances at Euro 2016 rank? Across the following slides, we take a look.
Note: Marc-Andre ter Stegen has been left out of these rankings as he didn't feature for Germany.
8. Arda Turan
Arda Turan would have entered Euro 2016 hoping the tournament would be a release. Instead, it represented a continuation.
In a Turkey outfit that didn't get going at all until the final game of the group stage, the nation's star struggled to exert any influence in a midfield that had looked promising on paper, seeing the difficulties of his first season at the Camp Nou spill over on to the international stage.
Against Croatia, Turan was rendered almost irrelevant by familiar faces in Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic, who dominated proceedings in the Group D opener. The former Atletico Madrid man then suffered badly as his side was thrashed by Spain, and the Turkish fans inside the Stade de Nice turned on him.
Things did improve for the 29-year-old when manager Fatih Terim tinkered with his system against the Czech Republic, moving Turan from out wide into a No. 10 role between genuine wingers.
Still, though, the enduring image of the Barcelona midfielder from Euro 2016 is of him close to tears while being consoled by club team-mates Andres Iniesta and Jordi Alba, amid the fury being directed at him from the stands.
The tournament wasn't a release at all. And how long will he be at Barcelona?
7. Jordi Alba
Jordi Alba's campaign at Euro 2016 was representative of that of his team: He started in a blaze before fading out of the tournament.
In the meetings with the Czech Republic and Turkey, the left-back was among Spain's most potent options in matches that involved little in the way of defensive duties.
As he does so regularly at Barcelona, Alba penetrated the defences of Spain's first two opponents with his constant, out-to-in darting runs into the box. From midfield, Andres Iniesta and David Silva were able to pick him out consistently—the latter mimicked the way Lionel Messi looks for Alba with chipped balls over the defensive line when turning inside on to his left foot—to unbalance deep-sitting defensive units.
Alba should have scored the opener in such circumstances against the Czech Republic and laid the assist for Alvaro Morata for Spain's third against Turkey.
From there, though, the 27-year-old's influence waned.
Against Croatia, the threat of Ivan Perisic and Ivan Rakitic's hard running tempered Alba's willingness to get forward, before Italy wing-back Alessandro Florenzi dominated his flank in the round-of-16 loss.
6. Thomas Vermaelen
Thomas Vermaelen is not expected to be a Barcelona player for much longer—Sport has reported that Barcelona intend to sell him this summer—but at Euro 2016 the centre-back showed he still has something to offer to a new employer.
Despite entering the tournament on the back of two seasons in which he's barely featured at the Camp Nou, the former Arsenal man was Belgium's most consistent defender across four games until suspension ruled him out for the quarter-final loss to Wales.
Against the Republic of Ireland and Sweden in particular, Vermaelen's strong work both in the air and across the ground was important in his side's ability to keep clean sheets, and his team's subsequent shakiness against Wales in his absence reflected the extent of his influence in previous games.
It's also worth noting that Belgium's centre-backs are often left underprotected in what is a disjointed system, one that lacks genuine full-backs and possesses a forward setup that provides little defensive pressure from the front.
Vermaelen's performances were notable amid such a dynamic, and they could represent a small platform for him to build from at a new club.
5. Sergio Busquets
Sergio Busquets was excellent for Spain at Euro 2016, until Antonio Conte and Italy found a way to completely shut him out when it mattered.
After a low-key showing against the Czech Republic in La Roja's tournament opener, the Barcelona midfield anchor was instrumental to his side's fluency against Turkey and in the opening half against Croatia, when his one-touch passing and switches of play from tight spaces regularly released team-mates into vast expanses.
Conte and Italy, though, had an answer.
With two strikers and a pair of wing-backs allowed to push on because of the strength of the Juventus block at the back, the Italians pressed Spain extremely high in the first hour of their round-of-16 clash. By doing so, Gerard Pique and Sergio Ramos were forced into playing the ball back to goalkeeper David De Gea, who had little choice but to hit it upfield.
The result was a complete bypassing of Busquets, who watched the ball sail over his head and wasn't able to establish a possession or territorial advantage for La Roja.
4. Samuel Umtiti
Luis Enrique and the Barcelona board will have let go of beaming smiles when Samuel Umtiti sparkled against Germany in the semi-finals of Euro 2016.
A week earlier when Barcelona had signed the French defender for €30 million, he hadn't yet appeared in the tournament and was considered a back-up to Laurent Koscielny and Adil Rami. At the time, the price tag looked a little steep. But not now.
After making his debut against Iceland because of the suspension to Rami, the 22-year-old held his place and put together a wonderfully composed performance against the Germans to suggest Barcelona have got this one spot on.
In the face of intense pressure, Umtiti never yielded and made a number of telling interventions in the French box. His crisp distribution from the back also struck as nicely suited to Enrique's team, and the experience of a major final will be beneficial as he prepares to enter the stage of the Camp Nou.
He wasn't quite as impressive against Iceland and Portugal, but to shine the way he did in a semi-final will encourage those at Barcelona.
3. Ivan Rakitic
Ivan Rakitic essentially goes back to playing the role he fulfilled at Sevilla when he pulls on a Croatia shirt, and Euro 2016 saw him do it very effectively.
Positioned ahead of Luka Modric and Milan Badelj, Rakitic functioned as the hard-running and ball-carrying link between midfield and attack in Ante Cacic's setup, and he posed problems for Croatia's opponents throughout the nation's campaign.
Against Turkey, the Barcelona midfielder linked seamlessly with Modric and twice went close to scoring, while his sharp passing and unrelenting aggression was devastating in the opening hour against the Czech Republic. The latter performance also featured that sumptuous chipped goal over Petr Cech.
Rakitic was then a consistent threat to Spain as Croatia turned Group D on its head with a come-from-behind victory—he was unbelievably unlucky not to score in the first half when his chipped shot hit the crossbar and the post—but he was unable to get into the contest with Portugal as Croatia bowed out in the round of 16.
2. Gerard Pique
It won't have surprised anyone at Barcelona that Gerard Pique was outstanding for Spain at Euro 2016.
Since leaving behind some struggles in late 2014, the centre-back has been in wonderful form for 18 months and simply continued in that vein in France.
After scoring the crucial late winner against the Czech Republic, Pique was as solid as ever in defence, making several key tackles and interceptions to halt opposition attacks, and helped to steady a Spain back four that at times looked vulnerable due to the erratic nature of Sergio Ramos' performances.
Pique was also the only Spanish player who showed the urgency to get to David De Gea's parried save against Italy that resulted in the game's opening goal, which neatly reflected how the centre-back stood above the passive malaise that affected his team-mates in the defeat to the Italians.
1. Andres Iniesta
For two games at Euro 2016, maybe even two-and-a-half, Andres Iniesta played at a level miles beyond anyone at the tournament.
Twisting, evading, skipping, chipping, probing, the midfield maestro left the Czech Republic and Turkey in particular to look like giddy-legged, green-faced children who'd just stepped off one of those theme-park rides that instantly makes you regret that second helping of pancakes for breakfast.
They couldn't get near him. And they were left dizzy and dazed just trying.
It was Iniesta in his absolute pomp, and it was a delight to watch.