UEFA Euro 2012 Best XI Players

UEFA Euro 2012 Best XI Players

Goalkeeper: Iker Casillas, Spain.

Spain never gave up a goal after Antonio Di Natale's strike in their opening game, but team's did have chances, and Saint Iker snuffed them out every time.

Right back: Theodor Gebre Selassie, Czech Republic.

One of Euro 2012's weaker positions, but give Gebre Selassie credit for standing out with his pushes upfield. Not his best game in the quarterfinal against Portugal, but he was exemplary otherwise.

Center back: Pepe, Portugal.

It's a lot easier to like Portugal Pepe than Real Madrid Pepe. This one was solid (but not thuggish) in the central defense and showed great poise in front of the opposing goal, too, scoring once and hitting a penalty against Spain.

Center back: Sergio Ramos, Spain.

Spain's stingy defense was due in large part to the partnership of Ramos and Gerard Pique, but I'll give Ramos the nod for adapting to the role in the absence of the injured Carles Puyol and to hit a penalty (a la Pirlo) against Portugal in the semis.

Left back: Jordi Alba, Spain.

I was about to give this to Germany's Philipp Lahm, but Alba's majestic long run and goal against Italy in the final put him over the top. Barcelona has just acquired one of the great left backs of the future (and perhaps the present).

Holding midfielder: Xabi Alonso, Spain.

Though Xavi didn't have his best tournament for Spain, Alonso did a lot to make up for it, producing hundreds of passes, covering acres of space and showing a scoring touch of his own.

Holding midfielder: Sami Khedira, Germany.

Calling Alonso and Khedira "holding midfielders" is a little unfair, since both were dangerous moving forward in this tournament and scored important goals doing so. In fact, Khedira was more dangerous than teammate Bastian Schweinsteiger when he pushed up but still provided steel in the center of the park.

Wing midfielder: Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal.

Ronaldo was a truly dominant player for the Portuguese, scoring against Spain and the Czechs, he also hit the woodwork four times. Had his chance late to beat Spain and missed it. You don't get too many of those.

Attacking central midfielder: Andrea Pirlo, Italy.

If Italy had won in the final, Pirlo would have been the obvious player of the tournament. Written off as too old by many, the 33-year-old playmaker was devastating here, adding sterling moments of quality in every game.

Wing midfielder: Andres Iniesta, Spain.

The Spanish maestro was tremendous all tournament, keeping defenders off-balance and showing surpassing imagination. Iniesta's movements are like brush strokes from an impressionist. Remarkable stuff..

Center forward: Mario Balotelli, Italy.

It wasn't a good tournament for center forwards, and Balotelli struggled to make an impact in the final, but he was magnificent in the semifinal, scoring twice and providing a hint of what may be to come for the 21-year-old.

Thank you Ukraine and Poland!

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