English Premier League players at Euro 2008 – how did they do?

Thanks to everyone who pointed out the players I had missed out. I apologise for not including everyone. I’ve added a few, but I’m not claiming this to be a definitive list!

As an Englishman I had to endure the Championships without having any team to support. Actually, I didn’t endure it in the end, I loved it. As I come from a Country with such a ‘crap’ national team, I thought I’d have a look at how the players who ply their trade in England managed to perform. That way, I can pretend that we were good enough to be there.

It was interesting to see the likes of Bosingwa at Portugal and Modric of Croatia who will definitely enhance the Premier League in the coming season but I’m going to look at the performances of those who we in England are already familiar with:

Arsenal provided Gallas for France, Lehmann for Germany, Van Persie for Holland and Fabregas for Spain.

For William Gallas the tournament continued in the same vein as the season had ended for him in England. Disastrously. He must have thought that things couldn’t get much worse after throwing away the Premier League and the Champions League and skippering a side, many of whom didn’t seem to want to be there. He was wrong. It could and did get much worse.

Gallas himself didn’t do too much wrong as an individual but he was surrounded by players past their best (Makelele, Thuram, Henry, you know who you are!) and, at times, sheer incompetence (Eric Abidal, you know who you are!). Gallas 5/10

Jens Lehmann is an enigma. I don’t think he’s a great keeper and he is past his best anyway. However, you can’t argue with the performance of his team. He looked shaky and unreliable and it is hard to think of too many great saves either. He actually made one fine save in the final but overall, pretty poor. 5/10

Fabregas couldn’t force his way into the Spanish staring line-up until the final, when he only came in through injury, but when he came on, he controlled the games. The calmness with which he scored the deciding penalty against Italy summed up the stature of this young player. His performance as a substitute in the semi-final against Russia was superb. His influence on the team and the game, along with his midfield colleagues, was enormous. He produced a masterclass of the art of midfield play. In the final, he didn’t really get going but he did nothing to detract from his ever growing reputation. 8/10

Van Persie started only one game and appeared as a substitute in the other three. He always looked dangerous when he came on and scored two goals. He will be pleased with his own form but disappointed that he didn’t get more chance. 7/10.

Aston Villa provided Olof Mellberg for Sweden and Wilfred Bouma for Holland.

Mellberg performed OK for Sweden but he was part of the defence that was so comprehensively opened up by Russia on so many occasions that it was easy to forget they had a defence at all. I don’t think Martin O’Neill will be losing too much sleep over the departure of the Swedish stopper. 6/10

Bouma didn’t get much opportunity because of the revitalised Van Bronkhorst playing so well in the left back position. When he did appear he looked as solid as ever, but it wasn’t a tournament he will remember with any fondness. 6/10

Blackburn were closely watching the fortunes of Andre Ooijer with Holland.

I’m sure the fans will be wondering how the average defender they watch week in and week out at Ewood Park became an absolutely world class centre half in the early part of the tournament. Like the rest of the Dutch team he was somewhat ‘found out’ by Arshavin and his Russin teammates, but overall, Ooijer will have enhanced his reputation. 7/10

Chelsea were represented by Petr Cech with the Czech Republic, Makelele, Malouda and Anelka for France, Ballack for Germany and Carvalho with Portugal.

Michael Ballack was superb as a leader and at times, superb as a player. Quite clearly he is not quite the driving force that he was a few years ago, but he is still inspirational for his country. When Germany needed something to happen, he was never far away from the action. Unfortunately, in the final he just didn’t have enough left to challenge the brilliance of the Spanish midfield. 8/10

For Petr Cech the tournament became one that he will be doing his very best to forget as quickly as possible. All seemed to be going swimmingly when they were 2-0 up against Turkey and fifteen minutes away from the quarter-finals. He was playing well and the world looked like a great place.

They concede a goal with three minutes left and then two minutes later a hopeful cross is delivered into the area but is much too close to the man who is arguably the world’s best keeper. The rest, as they say, is history. 4/10

Makelele, Malouda and Anelka all had stinkers. It’s as simple as that. None of them enhanced their reputation in any way whatsoever. Makelele retired after the tournament but most French fans will think he did that before their three games! 3/10. Malouda was, in my humble opinion, the worst player in the tournament 0/10, and Anelka…well, he wasn’t much better than Malouda! 1/10

Carvalho was looking a class act for Portugal but he went missing at two set pieces against Germany and their tournament was over. It was hard to believe that such an accomplished defender could get found out by two such simple free-kicks. 6/10

Liverpool had four players at the tournament in Dirk Kuyt for Holland and Pepe Reina, Xavi Alonso and Fernando Torres for Spain.

Dirk Kuyt, in keeping with the Dutch team as a whole, had three very good games, but then produced nothing in the quarter-final against Russia. The fact that they lost and he was substituted at half time was a sad way for his tournament to be remembered after it had promised so much. 7/10

Pepe Reina played just once as he watched Casillas produce the goods on the pitch. 5/10.

Alonso also started just once, being unable to force his way into the exceptionally talented Spanish midfield, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he was top of the table for the number of shots at goal in the tournament! He was firing them in from everywhere, determined to make an impression. 6/10.

Fernando Torres was good but played second fiddle to his strike partner David Villa. He worked exceptionally hard and was always a handful, but his goal return was slightly disappointing. Then, in the final, when a chance presented itself, he finished with aplomb and showed us all what the fuss has been about. 8/10

Manchester City’s team of European stars provided Corluka of Croatia, Fernandes of Switzerland and their second or third choice keeper Isaakson of Sweden.

Corluka played well and looked the part. Entering injury time in the quarter-final it looked as though he might be the Premier League’s best representative but then Turkey struck and the Croatians were out. It was a good tournament for the City full back. 7/10

Fernandes played all three games for Switzerland in a team that wasn’t too convincing. He did OK, but they were alaways up against it. 6/10.

Isaksson did nothing great and nothing awful. Sweden were disappointing but the City stopper didn’t let them down. 6/10.

Manchester United had Evra with France, Van Der Sar at Holland and Nani and Cristiano Ronaldo at Portugal.

Patrice Evra did his best but was fighting a losing battle in a very poor side. The knock his confidence must have taken when the awful Abidal was selected ahead of him could have caused irreperable damage. He didn’t do anything particularly good, but unlike most of the French team he didn’t do anything horrible either. 6/10

Nani played a bit part for Portugal and produced nothing when he made his short cameo appearances. 5/10

Ronaldo was a shadow of the player we have watched for the last couple of years. He produced occasional moments of class but anyone watching who didn’t know him would never have picked him out as being a man regarded by many to be the best player in the world. Maybe he had other things on his mind? 6/10

Van Der Sar looked good but was left helpless by the exciting Russian team. He did little wrong and will be satisfied with his own personal performances. 7/10

Middlesbrough were represented by Pogatetz for Austria Tuncay with Turkey.

Pogatetz did not cover himself in glory. He did his very best to get sent off in the first game and then again in the third. He also hit one glorious fifty yard diagonal pass to an area of the field where no Austrian players were within twenty-five yards. In a show of real class he then blamed everyone else for not being where he hit the pass! (I wouldn’t criticise him to his face!) 5/10 (too scared to give him less!)

Tuncay was part of the successful Turkish side who showed a wonderful, ‘never say die’ attitude and he showed some real touches of class. It was a real shame for the player that he had to miss the epic semi-final with Germany having picked up two yellow cards. 8/10

Portsmouth provided Kranjcar for Croatia and Milan Baros for the Czech Republic.

Baros did exactly what he has done for the past couple of seasons. Nothing. 3/10.

Kranjcar wasn’t bad but I expected more from a player who has been very impressive over the past few months.6/10

West Ham were at the tournament in the shape of Freddie Ljungberg for Sweden.

Freddie worked hard as always but playing out of position on the left he looked like a man that was accutely aware of the fact that he is not as good as he used to be. 5/10.

So who were the stars then? Arshavin, Lahm, Pepe, Senna, Xavi, Silva, Van Nistelrooy…Anyone from England? Can I put in a claim for Colin Kazim Richards?!

Graham Fisher writes at Soccerlens and Soccer News.

The Euro 2008 Best XI
The Euro 2008 Soccerlens Awards


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