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Euro 2020 Team of the Tournament - Ronaldo, Sterling, Pogba

Sports Mole selects its team of the tournament from Euro 2020, including Cristiano Ronaldo, Raheem Sterling and Paul Pogba.

An unforgettable month of Euro 2020 football has now drawn to a close, with Italy preparing to celebrate day and night after holding their nerve to beat England on penalties in the final at a packed Wembley Stadium.

There were some forgettable scenes, however - whether it be the harrowing episode involving Christian Eriksen or the ugly incidents of supporters running amok before the showpiece event - but those on the pitch dazzled and delighted all summer long.

Football did not quite come for England, whose first-ever European Championships final ended in heartbreak from 12 yards, while the other British nations in Scotland and Wales bowed out in the group stage and last-16 respectively.

2016 winners Portugal were sent packing by Belgium in the last-16 stage before the world's number one-ranked nation were victims of the Italian machine, while reigning world champions France were shocked in a shootout against Switzerland.

The Czech Republic pulled off a giant killing of their own by beating the Netherlands in the last-16 before coming up short against Denmark, who won the hearts of the neutrals during their inspirational run to the semi-finals.

Here, Sports Mole takes on the unenviable task of whittling down the best players to an 11-man team of the tournament.



DEFENCE

Italy's Gianluigi Donnarumma celebrates as his team beat England to win Euro 2020 on July 11, 2021© Reuters

Yann Sommer and Jordan Pickford - recipient of the Golden Glove - both deserve honourable mentions, but in truth, there was only one candidate for the number one jersey in this team. At the tender age of 22, Gianluigi Donnarumma - who saved crucial penalties from Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka in the final - already has a Euros winners medal around his neck, and Paris Saint-Germain are quite literally in safe hands as the Italian prepares to take over from Keylor Navas.

Denmark's wing-backs bombing forward on a consistent basis was a staple of their inspirational run to the semi-finals, and Joakim Maehle was one of the stars of the show. The Atalanta BC man provided the assist of the tournament for Kasper Dolberg in the quarter-finals against the Czech Republic and also contributed two goals as well as 1.7 tackles per game. Maehle featured on the left for the Danes but is shifted to the right to make space for the rejuvenated Luke Shaw.

Coming off the back of an incredibly strong campaign with Manchester United, Shaw did not let Champions League winner Ben Chilwell get a look-in whatsoever as he set up three England goals and enjoyed a moment he will never forget by breaking the deadlock in the final. The night may have ended on a sour note for the 26-year-old, but he is reaping the rewards of staying fit at long last.

A perfect link in our team of the tournament sees Shaw line up alongside colossal centre-back Harry Maguire, who has returned as good as new from his ankle problem and was a towering presence during England's run to the final. The 28-year-old averaged four clearances and 1.8 interceptions per game and will certainly treasure his goal against Ukraine. The final spot in our defence goes to none other than Leonardo Bonucci, who was in the right place at the right time to net at Wembley and formed an age-defying partnership with Giorgio Chiellini in the Azzurri's defence. Chiellini - alongside John Stones and Andreas Christensen - were unfortunate to miss out.



MIDFIELD

France's Paul Pogba pictured in action against Switzerland at Euro 2020 on June 28, 2021© Reuters

France's tournament may have ended far earlier than anyone could have predicted, but Paul Pogba continued to shine for Les Bleus and was simply unplayable at Euro 2020. Amid never-ending speculation surrounding his Man United future, Pogba bagged one goal and assisted one more in France's four matches - as well as completing an average of two key passes and 2.3 dribbles per 90 - and his all-action displays also saw him average two tackles per game for Didier Deschamps's disappointed outfit.

Each member of Italy's midfield triumvirate is worthy of a mention, but Marco Verratti was simply a class above. After sitting out his side's first two group games due to a knee injury, the silky PSG craftsman showcased his skills with three assists in Italy's next five matches, and he was constantly looking for ways to break a stubborn England defence in the final. Not only that, Verratti averaged 3.6 tackles per game - the third highest in the tournament - and he boasted the joint-most shot-creating actions with 27.

The other man - or teenager - to rack up so many shot-creating actions throughout the tournament was Spanish starlet Pedri, who was unsurprisingly named young player of the tournament by UEFA. The 18-year-old may have ended Euro 2020 without a goal or assist to his name, but he won his side 2.2 fouls per game and has already become an undisputed starter for club and country with performances well beyond his years. Barca's financial difficulties are well-documented, but keeping Pedri on the books must be a priority for Joan Laporta and co.



ATTACK

Cristiano Ronaldo in action for Portugal in June 2021© Reuters

There would be no repeat of their 2016 success for Portugal, but a 36-year-old Cristiano Ronaldo still proved his greatness on the biggest stage of them all. There was simply no leaving out the winner of the Golden Boot - who was breaking records left, right and centre with his five strikes in four games - and he ended the tournament as the highest European Championships goalscorer of all time, but it would not be a surprise to see a 39-year-old Ronaldo still performing at a high enough level to feature at Euro 2024.

By claiming one assist at the tournament, Ronaldo just pipped Czech Republic striker Patrik Schick to the Golden Boot, but the Bayer Leverkusen man warrants a spot in our team regardless. Schick silenced the Hampden Park crowd with one of the most spectacular long-range goals that the Euros has ever seen, and having also found the back of the net against the Netherlands and Denmark in the knockout rounds, Leverkusen may be bracing themselves for bids for the 25-year-old.

The third and final spot in our attack goes to Raheem Sterling, who entered Euro 2020 off the back of a frustrating campaign with Manchester City but transformed into a goal machine when pulling on that white jersey. During the periods that Harry Kane was failing to fire, Sterling netted vital goals against Croatia, the Czech Republic and Germany, and the 26-year-old just edges out Swedish hero Emil Forsberg to the 11th place in our lineup.



SPORTS MOLE'S EURO 2020 TEAM OF THE TOURNAMENT

Euro 2020 Team of the Tournament

Sports Mole's Euro 2020 team of the tournament (4-3-3): Donnarumma; Maehle, Bonucci, Maguire, Shaw; Verratti, Pogba, Pedri; Ronaldo, Schick, Sterling


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England's Bukayo Saka looks dejected after missing a penalty against Italy in the Euro 2020 final on July 11, 2021
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