Euro 2016 Team of the Last 16: Which Iceland heroes make Coral’s excellent XI?
Holly Thackeray | June 28, 2016
With the Euro 2016 last of 16 all done and dusted, and both heroes and villains cast, Coral writers select a starting XI plus substitutes of top performers from the round.
Who made the cut? Check out our choices below and let us know on Twitter if you agree or disagree…
Goalkeeper: Gianluigi Buffon (Italy)
Erstwhile rearguard rock Buffon underlined his importance to Italy, if it were ever doubted, with a crucial performance to keep out Spain, particularly as La Roja strove for a last-gasp goal.
With a stunning save to deny Gerard Pique, the flexible 38-year-old ensured he was picked to protect our posts. Germany are up next, so the Azzurri number one will again be called upon to command from the back.
Right back: Bacary Sagna (France)
Sagna is not a player who gets a lot of love from Premier League fans, but he was one of the more influential at the back for France in the last 16. Les Bleus (14/5 tournament favourites with Coral) did concede once to the Republic of Ireland, but this right back was key in the fight back as he contributed a curling cross for Antoine Griezmann’s equaliser.
Centre back: Jerome Boateng (Germany)
Staunch at the back, a playmaking presence plus an opening goal and clean sheet to boot, there isn’t much more managers can ask from a defender – and Boateng provided all this and more in spades against Slovakia.
There are greater tests to come, but Boateng is one of the players most on form for Die Mannschaft. New Bayern Munich boss Carlo Ancelotti will be watching with eager eyes as his star centre back next takes on the Italian’s country of birth.
Centre back: Giorgio Chiellini (Italy)
It was a tough choice between any of Italy’s trio of top defenders, but ever-present Chiellini just edged compatriots and clubmates Andrea Barzagli and Leonardo Bonucci by adding a vital goal to the Azzurri’s cause.
When the chips are down it is invariably Chiellini who steps up, and the organisation and resistance from Italy owes much to the chemistry between the three formidable centre haves and Buffon, all nurtured back in Turin with Juventus.
Left back: Jonas Hector (Germany)
Germany did face a Slovakia side that somehow looked far less sturdy when facing the directness of Die Mannschaft than English indecision, but Hector was still a standout, providing plenty of width, cover and overlapping runs for his teammates.
Quietly building up a set of impressive performances, the Cologne left back could be a big target for Premier League clubs if this continues.
Central midfield: Gylfi Sigurdsson (Iceland)
Swansea City schemer Sigurdsson saved his best for England, no doubt to the delight of Welsh fans. Iceland have excelled without their star man necessarily living up to the hype, but he took the reins here against opposition he knew well.
Outperforming the likes of Eric Dier, Jack Wilshere, Dele Alli and Wayne Rooney, Sigurdsson’s incise and precise passing created the second crucial goal which saw England crash out and Iceland reach a historic quarter-final.
Central midfield: Aron Gunnarsson (Iceland)
Our Boys were really the story of the round, and gritty Gunnarsson’s partnership with silkier Sigurdsson was vital in controlling the middle of the park.
Willing to do the dirty work, this Cardiff City disruptor performed on a par with the lauded likes of William Carvalho and Grzegorz Krychowiak, both of whom could very well go for big money this summer.
Right wing: Julian Draxler (Germany)
Dangerman Draxler started from the left, but drifted all over the park as Germany tore Slovakia apart. A player whose bright young career seemed to have stalled at Schalke, the 22-year-old has looked reinvigorated at Wolfsburg to earn recognition for his nation.
Starting over flavour of the month picks like Leroy Sane, Draxler’s driving thrusts forward had the opposition on the back foot, while he also bagged both a goal and assist. A joy to watch.
Left wing: Eden Hazard (Belgium)
Hazard has come in for criticism in all quarters after a poor campaign for Chelsea and lacklustre Euros start with Belgium. But, the Red Devils showed just what he could bring to the table in the last 16, and Hungary did not know what hit them.
Back to his best with bundles of energy and dizzying dribbles, Hazard capped off his evening with a stunning solo strike and an assist for Michy Batshuayi.
Attacking midfield/support striker: Antoine Griezmann (France)
Able to fill the space and make runs in behind Olivier Giroud, Griezmann (7/2 to be tournament top scorer) ran the Republic of Ireland ragged with his clever movement.
This was the Griezmann of Atletico Madrid, as he dispatched a deadly double to save Les Bleus any blushes, gobbling up those couple of golden chances with a ruthlessness and predatory ease.
Centre forward: Graziano Pelle (Italy)
It was a tough choice between Pelle and Mario Gomez to lead the line, but we picked the former for his all-round play plus the greater strength of opposition.
Lurking to sink Spain at the death, Pelle has been out-performing many a bigger name marksman in France, despite doubts about his ability. Italy’s system could simply not work without his willing running, anticipation, selflessness and link-up play with partner Eder Citadin Martins.
Substitutes: Wayne Hennessey, Ragnar Sigurdsson, Toby Alderweireld, Grzegorz Krychowiak, Xherdan Shaqiri, Jakub Blaszczykowski, Mario Gomez.