Euro 2016 team of the quarter-finals: Welsh Dragons dominate in Coral’s excellent XI
Robbie Purves | July 4, 2016
With the Euro 2016 quarter-finals over and nations start dreaming of European glory, Coral writers select a starting XI plus substitutes of top performers from the round.
So, to find out who made the cut, read on…
Goalkeeper: Gianluigi Buffon (Italy)
Evergreen 38-year-old veteran Buffon showed superb form at the tournament and carried it into the Azzurri’s quarter-final clash with Germany. He produced stupendous saves throughout and pulled off a dazzling stop from Mario Gomez’s close range blast. Buffon, the more impressive of the two legendary stoppers on show, was never ruffled or nervous, however tense proceedings became.
Right back: Lukasz Piszczek (Poland)
The Poland right back seemed to possess an endless tank of energy, while whizzing up and down the flank for all 120 minutes against Portugal. He afforded the Navigators little space out wide and gave Eliseu a torrid time.
Centre back: Ashley Williams (Wales)
Williams hadn’t looked at his best since he arrived in France, but the Wales captain stood up to the challenge against Belgium. No ball flew past him in the air and was strong throughout – even when Maroune Fellaini was the tip of the Red Devils’ attack. The Swansea skipper nodded in his nation’s equaliser and was always in the perfect position when the Belgian’s attacked.
Centre back: Giorgio Chiellini (Italy)
No one else, bar Buffon, epitomises the passionate Italian spirit like Chiellini does. Despite Italy crashing out thanks to a terribly poor penalty shoot-out, he shone with his fine passing range and silencing of Thomas Muller. The Italians conceded just one goal during the competition, not bad for what some called the worst Azzurri team in 50 years.
Left back: Ben Davies (Wales)
Despite a nervous start, like his teammates, he grew in confidence and composure. Davies produced a near perfect performance and coped with the threat of Yannick Carrasco with ease. Unfortunately, he will be suspended for the semi after being booked.
Defensive midfield: Joe Allen (Wales)
His work-rate never faltered and gave everything to protect his centre backs. Allen’s passing was steady and acted as the heartbeat of Chris Coleman’s spirited outfit. He will be crucial against Portugal as Aaron Ramsey is suspended.
Central midfield: Paul Pogba (France)
He produced a salmon-like leap to head in France’s second past Iceland. He somewhat silenced his critics with his flamboyant performance, filled with eye catching passing and hard tackles. Pogba seems to be warming up after a mixed few starting games, and is able to inspire Les Bleus from midfield when at his best.
Central midfield: Aaron Ramsey (Wales)
Belgium gave the Arsenal man too much time and space in which to operate and Ramsey punished them. The blonde-locked engine of the Dragons, set up two of three Welsh goals and now has four assists to his name. He looked visibly upset with himself after receiving a booking that will see him miss the semi against Portugal.
Right forward: Antoine Griezmann (France)
The Atletico Madrid man has come to the fore in the knockout rounds. He followed his double against the Republic of Ireland by assisting the second and third goals against Iceland, and eased through the Nordic nation’s backline to net his fourth of the finals.
Centre forward: Olivier Giroud (France)
His first-time finish on the 13th minute got Les Bleus scoring senses tingling, and linked up superbly with Griezmann. Giroud set up his nation’s fourth goal and nodded in a powerful header to claim his second before being substituted.
Left forward: Hal Robson-Kanu (Wales)
Skillful free agent Robson-Kanu showed, Cruyff-turning Belgium’s defence, was sensational and one of the moments of the tournament. He combined this with his famed industry in a package the Red Devils couldn’t cope with. The forward didn’t put a foot wrong all game and is now firmly written into Welsh footballing folklore.
Substitutions: Manuel Neuer (Germany), Samuel Umtiti (France), Mats Hummels (Germany), Joshua Kimmich (Germany), Alessandro Florenzi (Italy), Grzegorz Krychowiak (Poland), Dimitri Payet (France), Sam Vokes (Wales).