PORTUGAL THE CHAMPIONS!
Portugal for the first time ever in their football history managed to won a Major trophy of European Football. It became possible for them due to the fact that they had the players with the required skills, intelligence and passion at their disposal to play at this level. Although almost all the players contributed to the team in some way or another but their were 4 standout players without whom it would have remain just a mere dream to win the trophy.
The Portugal’s No.1 was in sensational form in whole tournament and his form is evident from the fact that he was selected as a goalkeeper in Euro 2016 Team ahead of the likes of Neuer, Buffon, Lloris etc. Patricio was arguably the best player alongside pepe in one of the most historical nights of Portugal’s football history. He made save after save to keep France out of the game and kept a clean sheet against one of the best attacks in this tournament. In total, patricio kept 4 clean sheets in this tournament and 3 among these 4 clean sheets were secured against the likes of Croatia, Wales and France in knockout stages whose main attackers include Mandzukic, Bale and Griezmann respectively. He also helped Portugal to win on penalties against Poland and progress to the semifinals. He was surely helped by a strong defense in front of him but he never let his team down and proved to be the best Goalkeeper of this tournament.
Just a few months ago in Rafa’s era he was considered as “too old” to start every match for madrid and therefore he lost his place to a 23 year old varane who is nowhere near pepe’s class. But he came back stronger in Zidane’s era and helped Real Madrid to win the champions league trophy for the 11th time. But this man didn’t stop there and he go on to win the most important trophy in European football. Pepe have always been in the shadow of ramos for madrid but here pepe emerged as a leader when it mattered the most and organized the defense well. Pepe’s ability to read the game was immense and the way he cleared the ball in danger areas was the reason that Portugal conceded only 2 goals in 6 matches if we leave the match against Hungary. Overall pepe wasn’t just the best defender of the tournament but he was arguably the best player of the tournament alongside griezmann.
Almost 3-4 months ago no one knew this lad outside portugal. His name was firstly highlighted in english media when he signed for Bayern Munich for €35 Million, at the very moment he signed for Bayern it was clear that he got something special in him because Bayern just doesn’t spend that much money on mediocre players. In the beginning of the tournament he was used as a sub but he made so much impact on the games that it became impossible for fernando santos to bench him in later stages of the tournament, his best performance came against Poland where he scored the only goal for Portugal and also netted his penalty in the goal. Against wales and Croatia also he was crucial and bossed the midfield using his incredible skills and and strength.
Messi fans will have a say on this but Ronaldo was undoubtedly the most crucial player for Portugal not just because he performed as a player when he needed to but due to the fact that he performed as a player as well as a captain, coach and a motivator. Ronaldo couldn’t perform in the final of Euro2016 due to injury but his sideline performance was as important as his infield performance would have been. He continually motivated the players throughout the later stages of the tournament and infused so much passion in them that there was no way they were going to lose even without their Main man. If we talk about his performances, his performances were bang average except against Hungary and Wales but for once just try to imagine this team winning the whole thing without Ronaldo being there. I know you couldn’t because Ronaldo was the soul of the team and without him the team looks hardly anything more than an average team if we remove the likes of pepe and nani. Ronaldo with his performances (Both infield and sidelines) leaded the team to their first ever silverware which the Portugal team always found hard to won even with the Legends like Eusebio and Figo.
PLAYERS WHO MADE A MARK TOO
Jose Fonte, Raphaël Guerreiro and Nani are Few Honorable mentions who were not as crucial as those mentioned above but still gave a superlative performance whenever they were called upon. Among these 3 players Raphaël Guerreiro managed to get his name in the Best X1 of Euro 2016.