Best Players at Euro 2016 for Each of the 23 Squad Numbers
The squad numbers given to each player at Euro 2016 don’t actually have too much significance, aside from pride and a personal preference.
Yet, making up a squad of the best player representing each number in the tournament produces a rather impressive list…
1. Manuel Neuer (Germany)
Runners up: Hugo Lloris (France) and Gianluigi Buffon (Italy)
Undoubtedly the best keeper in the world, Bayern Munich’s Manuel Neuer has yet to concede a goal at the Euros and could well be getting his hands on his first European Championship trophy.
2. Stephan Lichtsteiner (Switzerland)
Runners up: Toby Alderweireld (Belgium) and Cesar Azpilicueta (Spain)
The Swiss captain has yet to match the success at international level that he has achieved at club level with Juvents. Lichtsteiner will now lead his fellow countrymen into the last 16 after finishing second in Group A.
3. Gerard Pique (Spain)
Runners up: Giorgio Chiellini (Italy) and Patrice Evra (France)
Pique is a European Championship winner already, having helped Spain to Euro success four years ago and the Barcelona centre back is part of a squad attempting to win the tournament for the third consecutive time.
4. Radja Nainggolan (Belgium)
Runners up: Matteo Darmian (Italy) and Ivna Perisic (Croatia)
Belgium’s bustling central midfielder is one of the hottest prospects in Europe right now and is tipped to join the Premier League from Roma before next season. Nainggolan commands a starting spot in Marc Wilmots’ side and is key to the Red Devils.
5. Sergio Busquets (Spain)
Runners up: Mats Hummels (Germany) and Jan Vertonghen (Belgium)
It was a tough call between Busquets and Hummels, but the former’s unprecedented success at club level earns him the spot. The 27-year-old plays the same role for both club and country and is arguably the finest holding midfielder in the world.
6. Andres Iniesta (Spain)
Runners up: Sami Khedira (Germany) and Axel Witsel (Belgium)
Unlike the number 5 spot, here there was not much deliberation with Andres Iniesta ageing like wine. The Barcelona playmaker has been in scintillating form for both club and country, despite the departure of former partner in crime Xavi.
7. Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal)
Runners up: Kevin De Bruyne (Belgium) and Antoine Griezmann (France)
Despite a fairly disappointing tournament so far, Ronaldo is still the best number 7 in France this summer. The Real Madrid man is in good company though with De Bruyne and Griezmann, so much so that the likes of Ivan Rakitic and Raheem Sterling miss the cut entirely.
8. Mesut Ozil (Germany)
Runners up: Dimtri Peyet (France) and David Alaba (Austria)
Difficult to place Ozil ahead of Alaba, but the Arsenal midfielder is still one of the most talented attacking midfielders around. Having already been part of Germany’s World Cup success two years ago, the 27-year-old is now on the hunt for Euro glory.
9. Robert Lewandowski (Poland)
Runners up: Harry Kane (England) and Romelu Lukaku (Belgium)
Poland are starting to creep up as everyone’s dark horses for the tournament and a big reason for that is star striker Robert Lewandowski. The Bayern man had a stellar season in the Bundesliga and will be looking for more goals in France.
10. Luka Modric (Croatia)
Runners up: Eden Hazard (Belgium) and Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Sweden)
Let’s hope Zlatan (or Wayne Rooney) is not reading as Luka Modric is placed as the best number 10 in the tournament. Despite not possessing the showstopping qualities of the Swede, the Real Madrid midfielder is one of the finest of his generation.
11. Gareth Bale (Wales)
Runners up: Anthony Martial (France) and Jamie Vardy (England)
This one needs no debate. The world’s most expensive footballer of all time has almost single-handedly carried Wales to the Euros and the last 16 too, having scored an impressive three goals so far.
12. Hector Bellerin (Spain)
Runners up: Morgan Schneiderlin (France) and Nathaniel Clyne (England)
With most of the team’s number 12s being back-up goalkeepers, the best of the outfield players is Arsenal’s Hector Bellerin. A newcomer to the Spain squad, the young right back is pushing for a starting role.
13. David de Gea (Spain)
Runners up: Thomas Muller (Germany) and Ricardo Rodriguez (Switzerland)
Despite the evergreen Thomas Muller also donning the number 13 jersey, here Spain’s new first choice keeper beats him to the spot. De Gea has established himself as a true competitor to Manuel Neuer’s reign as best stopper in the world in over the last two years.
14. Blaise Matuidi (France)
Runners up: Thiago Alcantara (Spain) and Jordan Henderson (England)
Matuidi has come under the radar as one of the most consistent performers in the whole of Europe and part of PSG’s recent success is owed to the hard work of the French midfielder. Naturally, the 29-year-old is a permanent fixture in Les Blues’ starting lineup.
15. Paul Pogba (France)
Ruinners up: Daniel Sturridge (England) and Sergio Ramos (Spain)
Lining up alongside Matuidi in the France midfield is Paul Pogba. The mercurial giant is tipped to become one who dominates the world of football, having already torn the Serie A apart since joining Juventus in 2012.
16. Renato Sanches (Portugal)
Runners up: Daniele De Rossi (Italy) and Jakub Błaszczykowski (Poland)
The fact that Sanches beats De Rossi and Błaszczykowski to this spot illustrates the changing of the guard that is taking place in football right now. The 18-year-old midfielder, who just completed a big money move to Bayern Munich, has yet to start a game this Euro.
17. Mario Mandzukic (Croatia)
Runners up: Marek Hamsik (Slovakia) and Jerome Boateng (Germany)
Croatia’s deadliest weapon has yet to score this tournament but Mario Mandzukic is one of the best strikers on the continent. The Juventus man has proved his worth in both the Bundesliga and La Liga, before he made his way to the Serie A last summer.
18. Toni Kroos (Germany)
Runners up: Moussa Sissoko (France) and Jord Alba (Spain)
The Germany team is simply scary and Toni Kroos is yet another world class player who turns out for the World Cup winners. Real Madrid’s composed midfielder is playing in his second European Championship tournament, having crashed out at the semi-finals in 2012.
19. Mario Gotze (Germany)
Runners up: Mousa Dembele (Belgium) and Leonardo Bonucci (Italy)
Yet another German man who beats off competition from the other number 19s in the tournament. Gotze plays as a false number nine for his country, after what has been a frustrating season with Bayern Munich.
20. Dele Alli (England)
Runners up: Kinglsey Coman (France) and Lorenzo Insigne (Italy)
In the battle of the talented youngsters, Dele Alli beats off French and Italian competition, in Kingsley Coman and Lorenzo Insigne respectively. The Tottenham Hotspur man has become a household name within the space of a year and is now a regular starter for the Three Lions.
21. David Silva (Spain)
Runners up: Laurent Koscielny (France) and Marc Janko (Austria)
Manchester City’s magician does not quite perform the same kind of spells for Spain that he does in the Premier League. Nonetheless, he is one of the most talented players on offer at the Euros and should not be underestimated.
22. Michy Batshuayi (Belgium)
Runners up: Nolito (Spain) and Samuel Umtiti (France)
The Marseille striker has yet to feature for the Red Devils at the Euros yet, but that is due to the plethora of talent that Belgium posses in the forward department. Heavily linked with a move to the Premier League, Batshuayi scored 17 goals in Ligue 1 last season.
23. Xherdan Shaqiri (Switzerland)
Runners up: Mario Gomez (Germany) and Emanuele Giaccherini (Italy)
It’s strange to think that Shaqiri, formerly of Bayern Munich and Inter Milan, is now a Stoke City player but to be fair he has not done too much for the Potters in the Premier League. Yet, he remains a major part of the Swiss side who will be looking to reach the later stages of the tournament.
The original version of this story which was published by 90min.com Serie A can be viewed here.
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