Goalkeeper: Hannes Thor Halldorsson
The player with the best name in all of Euro 2016 secured his spot in the goalkeeping position of this week’s TOTW with a fantastic display against Portugal. Hannes Thor Halldorsson made a staggering 8 saves to help secure his team a 1-1 draw and to secure his place in this team ahead of the likes of Yann Sommer and Manuel Neuer who put in fantastic displays in their own rights. The Icelandic goalkeeper was fantastic in the opening round, making 17 accurate long passes, more than any other player in the opening round and touching the ball 55 times, more than any other goalkeeper in round one as well. Hannes Thor Halldorsson was excellent all game long and was the difference for Iceland against Portugal securing them a much needed point against a tough side. Rating 9/10.
Centre Back: Adil Rami
Adil Rami came into a France side that he wasn’t even supposed to be a part of to rock the defense and help secure France the three points. Adil Rami won everything in the air, looked confident on the ball all game long and was incredibly hard for the Romanian forwards to get past. He looked like a rock and as strong as an ox, bullying the forwards off the ball all game long. He also boasted impressive stats such as winning 100% of his ariel duels and tackles and making 8 clearances and 3 interceptions to help keep Romania at bay. Rating: 8/10.
Centre Back: Leonardo Bonucci
Any one of the three Italian defenders could have made the team of the week this week but Bonucci stole the show and was the key man in Italy’s stern defense. Bonucci was rock solid all game long, making 7 clearances and 4 interceptions to help Italy keep a crucial clean sheet. Not only was Bonucci’s defending excellent but his passing was equally impressive. The 29 year old defender made a perfect pass to free Giaccherini away from Alderweireld for the goal which was just one of six accurate long passes he made during the game. Leonardo Bonucci was excellent against Belgium and was Italy’s most key player in their crucial victory. Rating: 8.5/10.
Centre Back: Fabian Schar
Fabian Schar was defensively solid all game long for Switzerland and scored the vital goal to grab his country the victory in their opening match against Albania. The Hoffenheim defender was constantly putting his body in the way of the ball and in the way of the Albanian forwards, making 9 clearances and blocking 2 shots during the game. He also won five duels in the air and completed 91% of his passes, putting in a solid shift in all areas of the game on Saturday and acting as the key man to give his side the three points. Rating: 9/10.
Centre Back: Shkodran Mustafi
Shkodran Mustafi filled the boots of Mats Hummels perfectly as he stepped right into the German back-line and was one of the best players on the pitch. Mustafi, like Shar and Rami, won everything in the air. The Valencia defender won 5 ariel duels and made a stunning 7 interceptions over the course of the match. He also scored Germany’s crucial first half goal, completed 90% of his passes for a total of 83 passes and helped lead the back line to an opening match clean sheet. Mustafi was excellent on Sunday and his performance may mean that when one of my favourite players, Mats Hummels, returns to full match fitness and is healthy enough to play that he might not even get back into the side. Rating 9.5/10.
Defensive Midfield: N’Golo Kante
N’Golo Kante bossed the midfield and allowed France to constantly attack by making vital interceptions and tackles whenever Romania even got a chance to get near France’s penalty area. He was so confident on the ball and made some killer passes as well including the assist on Payet’s goal. His stats were fantastic as well, making 5 interceptions, 3 tackles and completing 92% of his passes. With Kante in midfield, Romania never had a chance of orchestrating a proper attack. Rating: 9/10.
Centre Midfield: Luka Modric
Luka Modric ran the show against Turkey as Croatia looked comfortable on their way to a 1-0 victory. Everything came through the Real Madrid midfielder and he was the difference between the two sides. Not only did he score that vital goal to give his country the win, he also provided some incredible quality in midfield, controlling and dictating the tempo of the game and offering so much in both attack and defense. Turkey don’t even have a player half as good as Modric and the 28 year old midfielder showcased why he is one of the best midfielders in the world with an incredible performance against the Crescent-Stars. Rating 9.5/10.
Centre Midfield: Toni Kroos
Toni Kroos controlled everything in the Germany-Ukraine game. He was the source of most of their attacks and the difference between Ukraine going on an attack and not going on an attack on so many occasions. The Real Madrid midfielder showed his quality early on in the game by whipping in a perfect free kick to the head of Mustafi to give Germany the early lead. After that he continued to dictate the tempo of the game, making 130 touches on the ball and completing 93% of his passes, to give himself the second highest total of passes in the opening round with 109. He also could have had a goal himself as he hit the woodwork in the 51st minute. But Kroos was never looking for personal glory, creating 5 chances over the course of the game for his teammates. Kroos was so utterly dominant in the game against Ukraine and could be Germany’s key player in their quest to win this tournament. Rating 9.5/10.
Right Wing: Wes Hoolahan
Wes Hoolahan was fantastic for the Republic of Ireland in their opening match against Sweden and nearly won the game for his side. The Irishman scored a crucial goal in the 47th minute to give his team the 1-0 lead only to have it squandered by a Ciaran Clark own goal later on in the 71st minute. The 34 year old also helped out significantly in defense, winning 3 tackles, making 1 clearance and making 1 interception. Hoolahan was excellent on Monday and if it had not been for a silly own goal, he would have won his team the game. The Irishman was certainly one of the most surprising star players of the first round. Rating: 8/10.
Centre Forward: Gareth Bale
Gareth Bale was the difference for Wales against Slovakia and produced a masterclass performance that saw his team take the win by a score of 2-1. Gareth Bale was bright all game long for Wales and was always their likeliest source in developing attacks. The Welsh forward scored a wonderful free kick early on but continued to look dangerous throughout the game, having a total of five shots, all of which were on target and needed to be saved by the Slovakian goalkeeper Matus Kozacik. Bale was a handful all game long for Slovakia and he certainly lived up to his reputation as Wales’ best player on Saturday by putting in a wonderful performance. Rating: 8.5/10.
Left Wing: Dimitri Payet (C)
By far and away the best player on the pitch in the opening match of the tournament. Dimitri Payet ran the show for France against Romania, creating a host of chances before setting up Olivier Giroud with a perfect pass for the opening goal of the tournament. Before that he could have easily had three or four assists if Griezmann and Giroud had been more clinical. His dribbling was incredible, dangling his way through the defense and then putting in picture-perfect passes, creating 8 chances over the course of the game, more than anyone in the opening round. To top it all off he scored one of the best goals you’ll ever see at a European championship with an incredible left-footed shot out of nothing that soared right into the top corner and won France the game. France weren’t amazing by any means against Romania, but Dimitri Payet certainly was. Rating 10/10.
Substitutes: Yann Sommer, Gerard Pique, Jerome Boateng, Eric Dier, Emanuele Giaccherini, Andres Iniesta, Graziano Pelle
Player of the Week: Dimitri Payet
He was brilliant all game long, creating chance after chance before setting Giroud up with the perfect pass for the first goal. Then to top his brilliant performance up with a goal of that quality and that magnitude was magnificent to see. He also achieved a WhoScored? Rating of 9.7, something that usually only players who score three or four goals in a game would achieve. He would have easily made the team of the week even without his goal, possibly even without his assist as well. He was that good. By far and away the best player on the pitch on opening day and with his masterclass performance against Romania, he is my player of the week!
Manager of the Week: Antonio Conte
Any time Belgium had a chance to strike at goal, it was snuffed out by the Italian defenders and midfielders immediately. Antonio Conte set his team up to defend perfectly against Belgium. Eden Hazard, Kevin de Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku never got into the game which was all thanks to Italy’s tactics and resolute defending. On top of his team’s fantastic defense, was their brilliant counter-attacking style going the other way. Both goals were perfect illustrations of this and Pelle’s in particular was classic counter-attacking football at it’s finest. This is a group of a players that were criticized before the tournament as the worst team ever assembled by Italy at a European championship. Conte turned a group of criticized players into proven match winners on Monday and nobody played better than his team did in the opening round. Italy’s 2-0 victory against Belgium was probably the most impressive and dominant of the round as even though Belgium had more possession, they never looked likely to score because of how tough Italy were defensively. That is all thanks to Conte’s brilliance.
Honourable Mention: Chris Coleman
Chris Coleman set his team up perfectly to frustrate a resilient Slovakian side as his team were defensively solid and unified all game long. His counter attacking style of play worked to perfection and Wales could have won this game by a much heftier score-line. Most importantly, his defense were solid all game long and apart from Duda’s goal, Wales never looked likely to be beaten. Lastly, Coleman made a pivotal substitution by taking off Jonathan Williams and putting on Hal-Robson Kanu, as he scored the winning goal. Wales’ 2-1 win over Slovakia was both a great performance from the players and their manager, Chris Coleman.
Game of the Week: France 2-1 Romania
Best Moment: Dimitri Payet’s goal in the 89th minute to win France the game over Romania 2-1. A special goal and a special moment from one of the tournament’s brightest players.
So there it is! The first ever edition of Team of the Week on The Mastermind. Subscribe now for more Team of the Week every single week!
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