The Euro 2008 Best XI

The Euro 2008 Best XI


It’s that time when we have to look at the performances of of all the players in Euro 2008 and select our team of the tournament. I know it’s subjective, but I’m going to pick mine and invite you to ‘have a go’ at my stupidity and tell me where I’ve gone wrong!

Here goes:

In goal there were several contenders. Edwin Van Der Saar, Artur Boruc, Buffon and others all performed well and staked a claim for a place in the side, but Iker Casillas was consistently good for Spain and despite having almost nothing to do in the quarter-final against Italy, produced one stunning save and then two penalty saves in the shoot-out. He has been a fine keeper for a long time and is a worthy recipient of the award.

For a man who is still only twenty-seven years old, he has a huge amount of experience. With over three hundred league games for Real Madrid and over eighty caps for Spain, he has few rivals. In the final he was rarely under pressure but when Germany could have been a threat from set pieces he came out and commanded his area giving a huge sense of safety to the rest of the team.

The right back for my team was going to be the excellent German right back Phillip Lahm. During this tournament he was occasionally caught out defensively, which is something I have never seen before. However, he always made up for it and still looked absolutely world class when he went forward. Then, in the final he got caught out again for the winning goal and had to be dropped from my team.

In his place, the right back position goes to Spain’s Sergio Ramos who hardly put a foot wrong and performed admirably throughout the tournament.

At left back I have a man who is not really a left back at all, but a far more attacking player. However, as we want to produce an exciting team that scores goals, the position goes to Russia’s quite exceptional Yuriy Zhirkov. He has a great engine and with pace and skill he is a daunting prospect for any right sided player to come up against. Like many of the Russian players he didn’t live up to expectations in the semi-final, but prior to that he was a revelation.

Holland’s Van Bronkhorst made a very real bid for the position displaying a completely new lease of life, but Zhirkov was excellent and held him off for the number three shirt.

The centre back positions are quite difficult to select. There was not a great deal of outstanding defending to admire in the tournament, it was more about the players going forward. The two I am going to pick are Pepe from Portugal and Chiellini of Italy.

Pepe, from Real Madrid, is a relatively inexperienced twenty-five year old defender who outshone his more heralded defensive partner Carvalho. He caught the eye with some decent last ditch defending as well as some surging forward runs.

There was a great deal of pressure on the twenty-three year old Chiellini when Cannavaro was ruled out of the tournament and he more than rose to the occasion. When all around him were underperforming, he did his job well. As the tournament went on he got better and better, hardly giving the dynamic strikeforce of Torres and Villa a kick in the quarter-final.

On the right of midfield I am going to select Sionko from the Czech Republic who was very good in their games and was one of the few who didn’t underperform. He was unlucky not to get further in the tournament.

Sionko has been capped more than thirty times by the Czech Republic national team, and has scored 7 goals. He had been only a substitute for a long time, because his position of right winger was occupied by Karel Poborský. He must surely now, at the age of thirty-one, have made the position his own after this tournament.

Playing out of position on the left of midfied I’m going to go with Spain’s Iniesta who was absolutely brilliant in all games. His work rate and eye for a pass is only surpassed by his wonderful first touch and exceptional vision. Yes, I quite like him!

Lucas Podolski, also playing out of position, ran him a close second. He’s got a sweet left foot, a great turn of pace, a lethal delivery from wide positions and an eye for goal.

Centre Midfield has too many candidates to make a categorical choice. The two I’ve picked have impressed me for different reasons. I am going with Marcos Senna of Spain and Wesley Sneijder of Holland.

Senna plays in a midfield where everybody talks about Iniesta, Xavi, Fabregas and Alonso, but he rarely merits a mention. In this tournament he has shown his ability and his value to the team by being the mainstay in such a talented group of players. It is his reliability and consistency that allows some of the other players to express themselves and try things that if they go wrong, they know he will be around to pick up the pieces.

Sneijder was superb for Holland. He was fairly anonymous in the quarter-final defeat to Russia but prior to that he had produced performances of true class.

Choosing the players up front is very difficult. I have narrowed my final short list down to Ruud Van Nistlerooy, David Villa, Andrei Arshavin and Nihat. Just looking at the performances in this tournament I am going to go for Russia’s bright young star Arshavin to play just off the best lone front man in the world, Ruud Van Nistelrooy.

David Villa would be very disappointed to be left out and he would have some justification for feeling like that. I am going with the two I have mentioned because they produced displays during this tournament that can only be described as an absolute masterclass.

Van Nistelrooy played the perfect lone striker role in Holland’s group game against Italy and Arshavin played the perfect ‘in the hole’ role in Russia’s quarter-final victory over Holland.

As a coach myself, I would love to show forward players videos of those two performances and say, ‘just do it like that!’

So there we are. That’s my eleven. I fully accept that there are many, many other contenders, but I’d be happy to back this team against most others!

Euro 2008 Best XI (4-4-2):

Ramos, Pepe, Chiellini, Zhirkov
Sionko, Senna, Sneijder, Iniesta
Arshavin, Nistelrooy

Over to you.

Graham Fisher writes at Soccerlens and Soccer News.

Transfer Rumours (30 June 08): Martins to Arsenal, Keane to Liverpool, Adebayor to Chelsea, Aimar to Newcastle and more
English Premier League players at Euro 2008 - how did they do?


  1. Casillas

    Corluka, Kovac, Panucci, Van Bronkhorst

    Fabregas, Senna, Iniesta, Robben

    Villa, Van Nistelrooy

    van Persie

  2. Arshavin shouldn’t be in there. I know everyone was making a big deal about him because of his two good performances, but once word really got out about him, and defenders paid attention, he was invisible. Russia was depending on him, and he failed.

    That spot should probably go to David Villa. Without him, Spain may not have gotten precious goals and momentum that brought them to the final. Plus he got the golden boot.

    That’s my only big gripe. Good job though. My top 11 would be:

    Ramos Pepe Chiellini V.Bronkhorst

    Sneider Senna Fabregas Silva (Spain has a delightful mid)
    Villa V.Nistelrooy

  3. Villa? He got 3 of his goals in one game. Apart from that and 5 minutes against Sweden, what did he do?

    Even Fabregas had more of an impact over more games in the tournament…

  4. Casillas
    Ramos, Pepe, Chiellini, Zhirkov
    Sionko, Senna, Sneijder, Iniesta
    Arshavin, Nistelrooy

    I think Pepe, Sionko, Iniesta and Nistelrooy can be replaced with better players here.

  5. Keno

    I thought Silva was Spains worst player. Hes can be a handful, but he gives the ball away far too easily.

  6. Very good team Graham, although for me there is one glarring error. In the right wingers role Dario Srna and Arda Turan both had outstanding tournaments and I’m astonished you didnt even mention either one, especially in light of the progress their teams made compared to the Czech Republic. Also I dont think Pepe should be their as portugal looked defensively suspect throughout. Other than that its hard to argue with anything else youve put though.

    My Team


    Zambrotta Kovac Chiellini Zhirkov

    Arda Sneijder Senna iniesta


  7. based on this tournament alone i’d have to say:

    ramos kovac pepe van bronckhorst or zhirkov
    sneijder fabregas podolski
    van nistelroy pavlychenko

  8. Casillas
    Ramos – Puyoy – Pepe – Zhirkov
    Schweinsteiger – Xavi – Iniesta – Podolski
    Villa or Torres

    Lahm is excluded because of what Torres did to him yesterday. it was unacceptable you must block him and protect the ball to give your keeper more time to secure it

  9. Sionko? seriously?
    what about Schweinsteiger?(did i spell it right?) and why is Van Nistelrooy in there when u KNOW Villa should be?

  10. No Arda? no Schweinsteiger? How about Xavi and Puyol? Did you even watch any of the matches?

  11. i agree completely with the writer, yet i believe poldi kept germany going when ballack was not, so i’d play hin instead of sionko

  12. How about Buffon? He’s the reason Italy reached the quarters and actually managed to survive against Spain.

  13. Really was not impressed by Iniesta. I seem to remember him giving up the ball easily far to often, or taking an ill-advised shot or plain hanging on to the ball to long when a teammate was open for an easy pass. TBH, I expected far more from him. Podolski should get the spot over him.

    I have no gripes with the team other then that.

  14. My team=
    GK= Boruc
    RB= Ramos/Bosingwa
    CB’s= Pepe, Matthjiesan? -Dutch
    LB= Van Bronchhorst
    CDM= Senna
    RWM= Iniesta
    CM= Xavi
    CM= Modric
    LWM= Sneidjer
    ST= Torres

  15. Casillas




  16. Casillas
    Ramos, Pepe, Chiellini, Zhirkov
    Sionko, Senna, Sneijder, Iniesta
    Arshavin, Nistelrooy

    Sionko? Seriously?
    Iniesta? Unimpressive.
    Arshavin? Disappointing.
    Zhirkov? Maybe.
    van Nistelrooy? Well, he did what he could with the service he was given.

    This is my opinion:


    Ramos Pepe Chiellini Lahm


    Sneijder Xavi Podolski




  17. I think Senna should be certain in everybody’s team!
    Apart from that I would go with the following combination!

    GK – Casillas (He didn’t crack under pressure as we have seen Spain do a lot of times)

    RB – Ramos (Although he should be CB more appropriately, Puyol and Marchena couldn’t have done without him)

    CB’s – Puyol and Marchena (Simply because even though other centre backs started well ,these guys finished well and that is what matters! Over three matches of knockout phase
    no goals conceded, great foundation for Spain’s attacking midfield!)

    LB – Zhirkhov is the right person in this position, he as shown what defenders can do while attacking and also he was always able to turn back when he needed to unlike Lahm and others, extra prospect of attack is good i.e. if your defense is not diminished)

    DM – Senna for sure, has equal importance in winning the tournament as much as Spain’s rest of the team combined does)

    AM – Ballack because of his sheer determination and his leadership qualities, on a different day, Germany could have been knocked out of the tournament in group stages if it wasn’t for him!

    LM – Schweinsteiger, one reason why the favourites Portugal were knocked out! The guy has unnatural talents, only if he could calm himself down, he would be right there amongst Ronaldo, Kaka and Messi!)

    RM – Semih Senturk, the reason Turkey reached Semis and would have further for it wasn’t for Lahm’s incredible goal! I know I’m playing him out of position, but it does not matter if he gets a place in the eleven, I mean no player has the determination and belief
    to win or to save the match when you are a goal or two down, even the world class players don’t seem to possess these qualities!)

    CF – Arshavin (Russians were glad to have him back, he showed us what he could do, disappointed he couldn’t show us more, may be he got carried away with fame and even started to feel as he was the team which never is, Pavlyuchenko I believe has great qualities too but only if he wasn’t that bit lazy and hadn’t missed some good chances, he along with Toni could have had ten goals this tournament)

    ST – Fernando Torres (It is highly debateable but really unlucky not to have scored more than his counterpart Villa, but he was always a threat to an opposition and we saw that in the final, it could have been a different story altogether without his goal in the final)

  18. lahm??????????????????????

    considering the amount of quality full backs on show at the euro’s i dont understand why lahm’s name is even mentioned.yes his last minute goal against turkey was pretty good but he’s a defender and his job is defending which was horrific at times.torres made him look like a little schoolboy in the final.i’m not saying i dont rate him but based on this tournament ur having a laugh putting him in the best 11.

  19. G:Casillas

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