Italy and England dominate Euro 2020 best XI, Mbappe fails for France
After a month on the road covering an excellent and dramatic Euro 2020, ESPN commentator Ian Darke selects his best tournament XI and most disappointing XI. Who made the cut for better and worse?
Go to: Most disappointing XI | Best goal
Gianluigi Donnarumma | Italy
Officially named Player of the Tournament, the Paris Saint-Germain goalkeeper capped a wonderful month with crucial saves in the final shootout against England. Still, to concede more than one goal in any game under Roberto Mancini, the 22-year-old will be Italy’s No.1 for at least the next decade. Made in the same fabric as the great Italian goalkeepers Dino Zoff and Gianluigi Buffon.
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Kyle Walker | England
The oldest player in the England squad at 31 but still the fastest, and his speed of recovery has saved some tough times. Overall, the tournament marked a remarkable comeback for a player who appeared to be out of favor with Gareth Southgate a year ago. Among the other right-backs of Euro 2020, the Austrian Stefan Lainer had a very good tournament.
LÃ©onard Bonucci | Italy
His provocative display in the final – equalizing and scoring in a shootout – gave him the advantage over England’s John Stones and Denmark captain Simon Kjaer. It’s amazing to think that he and his friend Giorgio Chiellini played and lost the final nine years ago. They’re even going on vacation with their families this week and likely won’t even give up a goal hitting a ball on the beach with their kids.
Giorgio Chiellini | Italy
What a player, and what a man. Starts a party among his teammates and Italian fans every time he stops an attack, which he frequently does. It looked like nasty injuries were going to end his career over the past year, but he was monumental when it mattered this summer. It’s hard to believe he’s nearing his 37th birthday.
Luke Shaw | England
Described in the past as lazy, overweight and devoid of a football brain by one former manager in particular, Manchester United left-back had a brilliant tournament with three assists in addition to his second-minute goal in the final, making part of a stingy defense and always posing a threat to the future. The electric Italian Leonardo Spinazzola was obviously in contention for this place, until he suffered an Achilles tendon injury against Belgium which excluded him for several months.
Jorginho | Italy
Ran further than anyone else in the tournament and was the beating heart of champions Roberto Mancini, forever setting the tempo with his clever use of the ball in midfield. It’s strange to think Chelsea fans once ridiculed him as a bland non-creator when Maurizio Sarri was in charge of Stamford Bridge, especially since he scored a brace in the Champions League and Euro with Chelsea and Italy. Her partner, an English singer, may not speak to her this week!
Paul Pogba | France
Although the World Cup winners made a surprise outing in Switzerland, Pogba again showed he looked twice as playful when wearing France’s blue shirt rather than Man United’s red. . Strolling imperiously through games, pulverizing magnificent passes and scoring a memorable goal, the problem was that one or two others around him had missed the point.
PÃ©dri | Spain
It is almost scary to think of what this 18 year old could accomplish; so intelligent and mature was this elegant young man. Barcelona appear to have a possible successor to Andres Iniesta. Spain also led Italy for much of the semi-final, with Pedri playing a big role there. He’s flying to the Olympics this week, but beyond that he’s sure to be a big star at next year’s World Cup. His evergreen teammates Dani Olmo and Sergio Busquets also shone for the unlucky Spaniards. Named Young Player of the Tournament.
Raheem Sterling | England
Often out of favor with Manchester City towards the end of the 2020-21 season, it looked like time on the substitutes bench had refreshed him for the Euro, all at a kick out of the Wembley field where he had grew up playing youth. football for a team called Alpha and Omega. Scored three goals, staged Harry Kane’s opener against Ukraine and got the albeit questionable penalty that won England the semi-final. Always threatening.
Romelu Lukaku | Belgium
Scored four goals and carried the confidence of a happy man who propelled Inter Milan to the Serie A title and wants to stay there. Fast and dangerous, it now acquires additional gear, but was it the last hurray for this gifted Belgian generation? Maybe not, with the World Cup only 16 months old.
Lorenzo Insigne | Italy
The pace of work of the small, large man from Naples is off the scale. He scored two fine goals and was constantly rushing here and there, twisting and turning, to create openings for his team. Dane Mikkel Damsgaard and shock Spanish selection Pablo Sarabia were also in the conversation for this place.
Kasper Schmeichel (Denmark); Aymeric Laporte (Spain), John Stones, (England), Harry Maguire (England), Milan Skriniar (Slovakia), Simon Kjaer (Denmark), Joakim Maehle (Denmark), Attila Fiola (Hungary), Martin Hinteregger (Austria), Stefan Lainer (Austria); Marco Verratti (Italy), Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (Denmark), Declan Rice (England); Antoine Griezmann (France), Federico Chiesa (Italy).
The most disappointing XI
Burnout and fatigue have meant that some of the expected Euro 2020 stars simply failed to deliver. Or, maybe, they were just out of shape. For some, the tournament would have been a poor check on reality. Having already chosen his best XI, Ian selects a team of players who will not remember the past month with much affection.
Martin Dubravka | Slovakia
The Newcastle keeper will be haunted by his own goal against Spain, as he turned a routine over-the-bar knockdown into a hilarious howl as he put the ball into his own net. Slovakia imploded after that, conceding five goals and exiting the tournament. This otherwise fine operator will burn every copy of this match tape.
Julien Laurens is assessing whether France will support Didier Deschamps or call on Zinedine Zidane in the near future.
Benjamin Pavard | France
Scorer of the best goal of the 2018 World Cup for France against Argentina, but faltering at these Euros. Allowed Hungarian Attila Fiola to show up and score in Budapest, and he never inspired much confidence as the World Cup winners crashed in the quarter-finals.
Matthias Ginter | Germany
Renowned in the Bundesliga for being the king of head-to-head duels, he looked like the weak link in a German defense which conceded seven goals in four games. England’s two goals at Wembley fell on their own the night Germany was knocked out.
Merih Demiral | turkey
Much has been said about Turkey’s fantastic defense in qualifying when they conceded just three goals. But from the start at Euro they seemed vulnerable and Demiral’s awkward goal in the opener against Italy summed up a bitterly disappointing campaign.
Ben Chilwell | England
It’s a bit tough, as Chilwell didn’t kick a ball the entire tournament and wasn’t even on the bench for the final. But that’s the point. Even taking into account Luke Shaw’s stellar tournament, it was a mystery how a man who had played in the Champions League final for Chelsea in late May was not required for a single moment by Gareth Southgate.
Julien Laurens does not understand Gareth Southgate’s tactics in England’s loss to Italy in the Euro 2020 final.
Marcos Llorente | Spain
Considered one of the stars of the summer and coming out of a season in which he was a vital cog in Atletico Madrid’s title win, Llorente was quite more moderate in this tournament. He lost his place in Luis Enrique’s starting lineup as Spain found a better pace without him. This energetic artist will be back.
Marek Hamsik | Slovakia
The Mohawk brand is still there, but not the top quality Hamsik has brought to Naples and his country over an illustrious career. Now 33, he was unable to impact and light up matches with this old swagger.
Hakan Calhanoglu | turkey
His country needed this enigmatic creator to sing this tournament if it wanted to flourish. But frankly, he was away and Turkey was home before the postcards. It’s hard to know what went wrong after a good season for AC Milan.
Bruno Fernandes | Portugal
Full of goals, assists and ideas for Manchester United, but he never got into those euros and found himself out of training. A long and exhausting season, which only ended in the Europa League final in late May, appeared to have blunted his advantage.
Kylian MbappÃ© | France
In the life of even the brightest stars, a little rain must fall. He’s a brilliant talent, but that just wouldn’t happen to him at this tournament. He did not score any goals and his anguished gaze at the thought of missing the decisive penalty against Switzerland is a lasting image of this championship. Expect normal service to resume at the World Cup.
Serge Gnabry | Germany
A potential winner of the match for Germany who missed his shot. Dropped out for the big game against England at Wembley, he looked like he was sulking his way through a totally ineffective appearance as a substitute. Just seemed out of boil.
Some other big names who weren’t quite living up to their star: Phil Foden (England), Joao Felix (Portugal), Burak Yilmaz (Turkey), Ruslan Malinowski (Ukraine), Zeki Celik (Turkey), Thiago Alcantara (Spain), Eden Hazard (Belgium)
Purpose of the tournament
It must be the stunning strike from Patrik Schick near the halfway line for the Czech Republic against Scotland. The technique and quick thinking required to achieve this was sublime.