Premier League players at Euro 2012: The good and the pretty poor
Euro 2012 has seen the best players in the continent come together to play out a footballing extravaganza in Ukraine and Poland, with some excellent individual showings and games of note, and some shockers.
The Premier League has a staunch contingent plying their trade in the competition; here is the best and worst that England’s top flight has had to offer.
Lukas Podolski – The new Arsenal attacker has looked the part in a Germany team looking like a team destined for tournament glory. Despite being rested against Greece in the quarter-finals, he did score against Denmark in the group stages, almost ripping the back of the net out.
Yohan Cabaye – A rare positive from a disappointing France campaign, Cabaye continued his excellent form for Newcastle with Les Bleus. Combative, energetic and good on the ball, the midfielder also scored against Ukraine in France’s only summer win.
Andrei Arshavin – Banished back to the cold from whence he came by Arsene Wenger, Arshavin looked match sharp and interested for Russia. Quality touches and an eye for a killer pass may have the Emirates faithful considering what went wrong in north London.
Nani – Always tricky, Nani proved an attacking outlet for the Portugal side that made the semi-finals, and impressed with some industrious displays. United fans will want him to sign a new contract soon.
Nicklas Bendtner – Rejected by Sunderland and in line to be scrapped by Arsenal this summer, Bendtner showed that he is not totally useless by bagging a brace of headers against Portugal. Evened it up by showing underwear and getting fined.
Luka Modric – Although Croatia may well have been eliminated in the group stage, the Tottenham playmaker shone once more. Modric’s poise on the ball reportedly has Barcelona, Real Madrid, Manchester United, AEK Athens, Racing Santander, Olympiakos, Wrexham, the Harlem Globetrotters and everyone else you can think of interested in him this summer.
Samir Nasri – Despite scoring an individual effort against England in his side’s opener, Nasri has been singled out as one of the scapegoats for France’s early elimination. Demoted to the bench for the knockout clash with Spain, the Manchester City menace clashed with a journalist soon after and is facing international banishment. Now you be quiet.
Hatem Ben Arfa – The troubled winger had promised to be good and not show any of the petulance that blighted his younger years. Then he forgot about that and threw the dummy out of the pram after France were beaten by Sweden, asking to be sent home like a naughty kid from school.
Robin van Persie – Scored at will for Arsenal in 2011-12 but was decidedly off the boil for a poor Netherlands team. Fresh air swipe against Denmark was the low point.
All the Ireland players – Richard Dunne, Shay Given, John O’Shea, others – all had a torrid time, with bulk international retirements in Irish football the new cool thing.
Wayne Rooney – Expected to single-handedly lead the Three Lions to glory like some kind of superhero, but looked rusty and off the pace as England were eliminated by Andrea Pirlo and 10 other people in blue jumpers.