Football fanatics encountered another four days of enthralling football as the Euro 2012 wrapped up its second round of fixtures.
Germany, Spain, Portugal, England and France registered wins to make their respective paths to the quarterfinals easier, whereas the likes of the Netherlands, Denmark, and Ukraine could suffer disappointing group stage exits after dropping points in their respective ties.
Nonetheless, there were many players who performed superbly for their respective teams, producing high-level entertaining football and giving the fans everything they could ask for.
In this article, I have rated the best five of them. Note: Only one player from a single country has been chosen.
Mario Gomez, Germany
Mario Gomez, like most other club stars, has been often lambasted for not performing for his national team.
However, with a stunning well-taken brace against the Netherlands, the 26-year-old should have changed the opinions of most of his critics.
Gomez put up a vintage performance on Wednesday night, troubling Oranje’s defence with his tremendous runs and link-up plays, venturing back to help up the defence and as mentioned above, scoring the two pivotal goals that won Germans the tie.
Andrea Pirlo, Italy
Andrea Pirlo was the backbone of the Italy team that was held to a one all draw by Croatia on Thursday.
The 33-year-old veteran had a lively game as he acted as a field general for the Azzurri’s, orchestrating almost all of their attacks, setting up key passes for his teammates and most importantly, scoring the wonderful free-kick that gave Italians the lead.
If Italy are to win their final group game against Ireland and advance into the quarterfinals of the Euros, then they’ll surely have to have Andrea Pirlo at his magical and monumental best.
The only Portuguese, barring Pepe, who performed at his potential best against the Danes.
Nani was a beast at the right wing, producing well-time inch-perfect crosses, dazzling runs and sparkling dribbles.
He also assisted Postiga’s goal and laid the killer pass to Cristiano Ronaldo late into the second half that could have settled the game.
With the latter faltering in the tournament, Portugal fans can at least be content with the fact that someone like Nani is trying to step up in place of the Real Madrid star.
Andres Iniesta, Spain
Even though all the headlines after the Spain-Ireland game were reserved for El Nino’s thunderous strikes, Andres Iniesta was the real difference maker for Spain.
The 28-year-old was all over the pitch, instigating wonderful plays and dominated the midfield along with Xavi and David Silva.
Even though Iniesta wasn’t directly involved in any of La Roja’s four goals, he did have good chances at goals and kept the Irish defenders at his feet for throughout the game, bossing the midfield.
With the Barcelona star and Silva in good form and Torres back in form, Del Bosque might have finally found an attacking solution for the Spaniards.
Karim Benzema, France
Many of you might argue Krim Benzema’s inclusion in the list as the 24-year-old was unable to register his name on the score sheet for Les Blues.
However, that was mainly due to Ukraine’s defenders isolating him and extensively marking him in front of the goal.
Yet, the Real Madrid striker still managed to play an integral role in the game with a standout attacking display, locking up two assists and producing numerous other chances for the likes of Menez and Ribery. Goals will soon surely come.
Who have been your best five players of the tournament to date?
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