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SIPA USA/PA Images Pedri Gonzalez of Spain was among the players to stand out.
# Stars
Do you agree with our Euro 2020 team of the tournament?
Italy dominate our selection unsurprisingly.

LAST UPDATE | Jul 12th 2021, 12:01 PM

Goalkeeper: Gianluigi Donnarumma - Is there a better goalkeeper in world football currently? Certainly, Alisson, Ederson and a couple of others might have something to say about that. But on the evidence of the last few weeks, Donnarumma certainly belongs in that company. The 22-year-old already has more than 200 appearances for Milan and just signed for PSG this summer. By beating England, Italy became the first side in Euros history to win two penalty shootouts in the same tournament, and that is largely down to their talented goalkeeper, who performed exceptionally to inspire them to victory against both the Three Lions and Spain.

Right-back: Kyle Walker - Harry Maguire and John Stones deservedly received plenty of credit for England’s amazing defensive record — conceding just two goals in the tournament — but Kyle Walker was perhaps the unsung hero in that regard. The Man City star provided some much-needed pace to the backline, frequently making recovery tackles to leave opponents endlessly frustrated. Whether he was used as a third centre-back or an out-and-out right-back, the 31-year-old consistently excelled as part of a resolute backline.

Left-back: Leonardo Spinazzola - Normally, a player who missed both the semi-final and final would be excluded from a team such as this, but it’s a testament to the strength of his performances in the earlier rounds that Spinazzola warrants inclusion here. The 28-year-old Roma player was a highly influential presence in the Italian team and they were considerably weakened by his absence. It was an indication of the Azzurri’s team spirit and also, their star full-back’s importance, that they serenaded him on the flight home following the win over Belgium and rallied around him after the tournament-ending injury, while it was also nice to see him in attendance at the final despite being unavailable for the match itself.

Centre-back: Giorgio Chiellini - At 36, to watch Chiellini play to the level he has over the past few weeks has been simply remarkable. Moreover, an injury against Switzerland saw him miss the wins over Wales and Austria, but he recuperated admirably to lead his side to glory. He adds the Euro 2020 crown to nine Serie A titles and five Coppa Italias — a true professional. If it proves to be his final appearance at international level, and that’s not necessarily a given with the World Cup only just over a year away, it is a fitting way to bow out.

Centre-back: Leonardo Bonucci - The 34-year-old started every game for Italy at this Euros and was a rock at the back throughout. Down the other end, he was important too, as his equalising goal rescued the Azzurri against England. His longevity in being able to play football at the highest level is astonishing. He now has over 300 appearances for Juventus and over 100 for his country. And it takes more than talent for a team to go 34 games unbeaten — highly driven, perfectionist characters such as Bonucci and Chiellini were undoubtedly crucial factors in turning the Italians into the unstoppable machine they have become.

Midfielder: Pedri - It would be fair to describe the 18-year-old Spanish midfielder Pedri as a prodigy. He made his senior debut for Las Palmas at 16, played 37 times for Barcelona in La Liga last season, and aside from a 119th-minute substitution against Switzerland, featured in every single minute of action for Spain at these Euros. He was a joy to watch, helping his side dominate possession in every game they played. Likened to former Spain international Andrés Iniesta, due to his passing ability and tendency to roam in midfield rather than sticking to one particular position, the teenager’s remarkably mature performances over the past few weeks suggest the comparison with the Barcelona legend is not so far fetched.

Midfielder: Jorginho - The heartbeat of the Italian team, Jorginho was consistently impressive pulling the strings for Italy in midfield and was a genuine candidate for player of the Euros. The Brazilian-born midfielder had a slightly disappointing end to the tournament — he should have been sent off in extra-time for a late, over-the-top challenge on Jack Grealish and missed his penalty in the shootout. Yet overall, he more than merits a place here. According to Uefa’s stats, only Pedri covered more distance on average, while Donnarumma was the only footballer at the tournament to play more minutes than him, as he started all seven of Italy’s games.

Midfielder: Marco Verratti - It’s difficult to choose between Verratti and fellow Italian midfielder Nicolò Barella, but the PSG man just edges it. He wasn’t 100% fit for the start of the tournament and missed the opening two matches, with the similarly impressive Manuel Locatelli — another player unlucky to miss out on this team — deputising superbly. Verratti provided Italy with real class and creativity in midfield and was exactly the type of player that England (along with most other countries) lacked. At 28, he is at the peak of his powers and is one of a handful of key individuals, without whom the Azzurri’s achievement simply would not have been possible. It’s been a turbulent year too for the accomplished midfielder on a personal level. He has had to cope with injury problems as well as two positive tests for Covid-19, yet in the end, like many of his fellow Italian stars, Verratti showed great resilience to overcome these obstacles and perform to his best when it mattered most.

Attacker: Raheem Sterling - After a poor season by his standards at club level with Man City, there were doubts expressed over whether Sterling should be starting for Gareth Southgate’s side before the tournament got underway, but by its culmination, he was many people’s choice as the most impressive player on show. He was the only player to score for England in the group stages, got the all-important first goal against Germany and won the pivotal penalty versus Denmark. He also finished the tournament with the most successful dribbles and the second most sprints. Granted, the 26-year-old had a quiet enough final, but that was down to a lack of service and the flaws of those around him more than anything else.

Attacker: Mikkel Damsgaard – Had the unenviable task of replacing Christian Eriksen after the Inter star’s collapse, coming in for the second game against Belgium after Mathias Jensen had failed to have the desired impact in the Finland encounter. The 21-year-old Sampdoria player started every game thereafter, starring and scoring the opening goal in their 4-1 demolition of Russia that enabled them to advance from the group stages, while he also scored a brilliant free kick in the narrow semi-final loss against England. He certainly appears to have a bright future in the game and it’s no surprise to hear the likes of Liverpool and Tottenham being linked with a move for his signature in recent days.

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Attacker: Patrik Schick - Czech Republic coach Jaroslav Silhavy described Schick as a “genius” after his incredible goal from just past the halfway line against Scotland in their opening win, and he went on to build on this excellent form thereafter. The 25-year-old Bayer Leverkusen forward actually finished as the tournament’s joint-top scorer alongside Cristiano Ronaldo, finding the net in every game he played at the Euros apart from the 1-0 loss to England. On the one hand, you could dispute his place on this team on the basis that his side only got as far as the quarter-finals. But conversely, he had fewer opportunities to increase his goal tally compared with the likes of Harry Kane and was also playing with inferior teammates, so on that basis, he makes the cut.

Subs: Kasper Schmeichel, Harry Maguire, Giovanni Di Lorenzo, Andreas Christensen, Declan Rice, Luke Shaw, Pierre-Emile Højbjerg, Nicolò Barella, Federico Chiesa, Koke, Harry Kane, Cristiano Ronaldo.

Manager: Roberto Mancini

First published today at 06.00

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