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Dublin: 11°C Tuesday 20 April 2021

One Irish player included in our flop XI from the group stages of Euro 2016

Do you agree with our selection?

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has played his last game for Sweden.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic has played his last game for Sweden.
Image: Thanassis Stavrakis

EURO 2016 HAS now waved goodbye to eight of the 24 teams, but just before we head into the last 16, we’ve compiled a team of the most underperforming players of the group stage.

GK: Petr Cech (Czech Republic)

The Czech Republic needed the Arsenal goalkeeper to replicate his club form if they were progress to the knockout stages of the competition, but despite the 1996 finalists picking up a late point against Croatia, defeats to Spain and Turkey left the Czech’s bottom of their group.

The five goals Cech conceded in France now means he has let in more goals (21) than any other goalkeeper in the tournament’s history.

Soccer Euro 2016 Czech Republic Turkey Source: Frank Augstein

CB: Ciaran Clark (Ireland)

Clark had worked his way into Ireland’s starting line-up solely based on his performances in green, as his displays for Aston Villa have been erratic at best.

After putting in a commanding showing in the play-offs against Bosnia, with John O’Shea injured, it was hoped he could replicate his previous international form in Euro 2016, but he was lucky to come away from the Stade de France with just one own goal against Sweden, with the 26-year-old coming close to putting the ball in his own net on two other occasions.

His next performance against Belgium was enough for him to be dropped to the bench for the decisive match against Italy.

Republic of Ireland v Sweden - UEFA Euro 2016 - Group E - Stade de France Source: Christophe Ena

CB: Aleksandar Dragovic (Austria)

The Dynamo Kiev defender had a tournament to forget. After being sent off in his country’s surprise defeat to Hungary, he then went on to miss a penalty in the final group game against Iceland, in a game Austria needed to win.

Both Dragovic and Austria were unable to live up to their pre-tournament hype.

Iceland v Austria - UEFA Euro 2016 - Group F - Stade de France Source: Owen Humphreys

 CB: Jan Vertonghen (Belgium)

Although deployed more as a full-back during the tournament, the Tottenham defender has lacked the composure that he demonstrated in the Premier League last season, espeically when his side lost 2-0 to Italy.

With Belgium on the so-called easier side of the draw, the team ranked second in the world will be hoping to progress much deeper into the tournament.

Soccer Euro 2016 Belgium Ireland Source: Hassan Ammar

RM: Antoine Griezmann (France)

The 25-year-old has had a mixed start of the tournament, but his overall performances have been below expectations.

Having been dropped to the bench for France’s second group game after a disappointing performance against Romania, the Atletico Madrid forward came on late in the second-half to give his side the lead late on against Albania.

But when he was restored to the starting line-up for the hosts’ match against Switzerland he once again failed hit the heights he is capable of.

Switzerland v France - UEFA Euro 2016 - Group A - Stade Pierre Mauroy Source: EMPICS Sport

CM: Arda Turan (Turkey)

Due to Barcelona’s transfer ban, Turan was only able to make his debut for his new club in January of this year, despite signing with the La Liga giants last July.

His stop-start season may have contributed to him failing to make his mark in the group stages. The 29-year-old was even booed by his own fans as Spain put three goals past his side.

The creative midfielder failed to register a single shot on target in the three group games he started, as Turkey were knocked out of the competition following Ireland’s last-gasp winner against Italy on Wednesday night.

Spain v Turkey - UEFA Euro 2016 - Group D - Stade de Nice Source: AP/Press Association Images

CM: David Alaba (Austria)

The beauty of these tournaments is seeing how world-class players adapt to playing alongside their international teammates who may not be of the same quality of their club colleagues  - and most people would point to this fact, as Alaba failed to live up to his ever-growing reputation.

To be fair to the Bayern Munich man, Alaba has played in various positions and was deployed in advanced attacking role in their goalless draw against Portugal, where Alaba finished the game with a passing rate of 53%.

Soccer Euro 2016 Iceland Austria Source: Thibault Camus

LM: Raheem Sterling (England)

Due to a lack of natural width in the English side, Sterling has been given an international lifelong by starting England’s first two games in the competition, despite his dismal form for Manchester City at the end of last season.

The 21-year-old still has plenty of potential, but his brain doesn’t seem to work quite as fast his feet and was replaced at half-time as England trailed Wales.

Soccer Euro 2016 England Russia Source: Kirsty Wigglesworth

CF: Robert Lewandowski (Poland)

Whatever happens in the remainder of this tournament, Lewandowski will remain one of the best strikers in Europe but so far, on a personal level, his tournament his been a failure.

Having scored 30 goals in 32 league games for Bayern Munich last season, many pundits pinpointed the 27-year-old as a reason for tipping Poland as a dark horse, but as of yet he is yet to register a shot on target during Euro 2016.

Germany v Poland - UEFA Euro 2016 - Group C - Stade de France Source: Martin Rickett

CF: Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Sweden)

If Ibrahimovic was hoping that Euro 2016 would provide the platform to show the world that he is still able to influence games at the highest level and silence his doubters once and for all, then he was wrong.

Undoubtedly, a supremely talented player, the former Barcelona forward struggled to cement his authority on any of the three games, with the 34-year-old cutting a frustrated figure as Sweden crashed out of the group stages to end his international career.

Sweden v Belgium - UEFA Euro 2016 - Group E - Stade de Nice Source: Ariel Schalit

CF: Harry Kane (England)

The Tottenham striker was the first English player to win the Premier League Golden Boot since Kevin Phillips scored 30 goals for Sunderland in the 1999-2000 season.

Consequently, a lot was expected of the 22-year-old in Euro 2016 after he helped spearhead Spurs’ title challenge last season, but Kane has been a shadow of the player who netted 25 goals in the league last season, during the group stage.

Slovakia v England - UEFA Euro 2016 - Group B - Stade Geoffroy Guichard Source: Michael Sohn

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About the author:

Shane Costello

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