Coral’s Euro 2016 qualifying all-star XI from October action
There have been some stunning performances and sensational results around the continent during the latest batch of Euro 2016 qualifiers. And that got Coral’s football experts thinking.
Who would make an all-star XI from October’s international action? Here’s what we came up with.
Goalkeeper: Joe Hart (England)
Three Lions fans showed their funny side by voting virtual spectator Hart the supporters’ Man of the Match for both victories over San Marino and Estonia. England are just one of three nations competing to qualify for the France finals, which they are 14/1 to win, with a perfect defensive record.
Right back: Pavel Kaderabek (Czech Republic)
A couple of assists, including setting up the winner in Turkey, from this fine Sparta Prague prospect have helped the Czech Republic go joint-top of Group A alongside Iceland. At 22, Kaderabek has bags of potential, and is forming a real understanding with another of our selections.
Centre back: John O’Shea (Republic of Ireland)
Keeping a clean sheet against UEFA new boys Gibraltar is no great shakes, but pinching a point from a trip to world champions Germany on the occasion of his 100th cap ensures O’Shea makes our XI. How vital that result could turn out to be, and all because of his gritty defending and presence in both penalty boxes, grabbing a crucial last gasp equaliser against Die Mannschaft. It’s 11/10 that Ireland reach the France finals.
Centre back: Giorgio Chiellini (Italy)
Luis Suarez World Cup bite victim Chiellini made headlines again, but for less painful reasons here. The Juventus defender bagged a brace, and scored an own goal, but Italy still beat unknown quantity Azerbaijan. Chiellini also marshalled the Azzurri defence to a clean sheet in Malta.
Left back: Razvan Rat (Romania)
Just like O’Shea, this former unwanted man at West Ham has racked up a century of international appearances. Rat has led Romania by example, assisting their goal in the draw with Hungary before helping the Eastern European side keep a clean sheet in Finland.
Right wing: Borek Dockal (Czech Republic)
Another Sparta Prague sensation, Dockal’s right-sided partnership with Kaderabek is paying dividends for both club and country. The winger has netted in all three Euro 2016 qualifiers the Czech Republic have played so far, and he’s not the only name in our XI to do that!
Central midfield: Radja Nainggolan (Belgium)
A move to Roma has resulted in Nainggolan not only regaining his place in Belgium’s squad, but a spot in their engine room. His equaliser snatched a point from a trip to hostile Bosnia-Herzegovina, ensuring Marc Wilmots’ Red Devils side remain unbeaten in this campaign.
Central midfield: Gylfi Sigurdsson (Iceland)
Swansea City star Sigurdsson has also netted in every Euro 2016 qualifier for his country, including bagging a decisive brace against the Netherlands. For a nation like Iceland to upset a footballing heavyweight like the Dutch is a sensational achievement.
Left wing: Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal)
Navigators captain Ronaldo has been trialled as the loan striker by new national boss Fernando Santos, and it paid off for their away trip to Denmark. Real Madrid’s versatile forward headed in the winner deep into stoppage time.
Striker: Arkadiusz Milik (Poland)
Goals from this emerging talent, on loan at Ajax, against neighbours and bitter rivals Germany and then Scotland helped to procure four points for Poland. Milik’s magnificent header over the onrushing Manuel Neuer and fine finish past David Marshall have helped announce himself on the international stage.
Striker: Kyle Lafferty (Northern Ireland)
The third selection in our XI that has netted in every qualifier so far, Lafferty’s three strikes have helped Northern Ireland top Group F, a position they are 9/2 chances to finish the campaign in. His rejuvenated international career is in stark contrast to his struggles in front of goal for current club Norwich City.