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TT's Euros Top Men: Team of tournament

History-making Euro 2012 winners Spain take seven spots in TEAMtalk's Top Men team of the tournament, with Cristiano Ronaldo leading the line.

Last Updated: 03/07/12 at 07:08 Post Comment

Gerrard and Pirlo: Get the nod in our team of Top Men

Gerrard and Pirlo: Get the nod in our team of Top Men

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The Spaniards became the first team to successfully defend the European Championship crown in Kiev on Sunday night - and also became the first team to win three major tournaments on the trot.

Now that the dust has settled on the final celebrations, we thought we'd select our team of the tournament, made up from the Top Men who delivered the goods for their country in Poland and the Ukraine over the last three weeks.

After reading who made the cut in our elite XI, we want you - our loyal army of readers - to pick your own line-up of top performers.

You can choose any formation and there's no limit on how many players you can pick from each team - so have a think, then get involved.

Spain lifted the trophy without having a specialist striker in their first XI, so I'm following suit as when the likes of Iniesta, Ronaldo and Silva are your attacking options, who needs a hitman.

TEAMtalk's Top Men (4-3-2-1): Casillas; Lahm, Ramos, Pique, Alba; Alonso, Gerrard, Pirlo; Iniesta, Silva; Ronaldo.

Selected by Simon Wilkes

Goalkeeper

Iker Casillas (Spain): At 31, there are plenty of years ahead for the Real Madrid stopper, who provided a rock-solid last line of defence if ever the Spanish backline was breached. Gianluigi Buffon and Manuel Neuer also made UEFA's 23-man squad of the tournament - but there's no safer pair of hands in world football than those of Casillas right now.

Defenders

Phillip Lahm (Germany): The only 'weak link' in a Spanish defence which has gone nearly 1,000 tournament knockout stage minutes without conceding a goal is Alvaro Arbeloa at right-back. England's Glen Johnson caught the eye with a several impressive displays, but we've plumped for the right-footed Lahm, who played a starring role in Germany's impressive march to the semi-finals and can play in both full-back berths.

Sergio Ramos (Spain): Rival managers may have seen Ramos as an Achilles heel in the Spanish defence following his switch to centre-back to cover for the absence of Carles Puyol - but how wrong they were. The Seville-born 26-year-old trimmed his long locks but lost none of his footballing powers, at times looking like the more accomplished centre-back alongside Pique. Ramos was also a handful in the attacking third - and will be fondly remembered for cheekily scoring 'that' penalty in the shoot-out with Portugal.

Gerard Pique (Spain): The Barcelona star put any club rivalry with Ramos aside to form a central defensive partnership which could serve Spain for many years to come, especially as Pique is only 25. It's hard to remember him putting a foot wrong in the entire tournament.

Jordi Alba (Spain): Hats off to Barcelona for arranging the signature of Alba from Valencia for £12million before the tournament kicked off - as his market value has probably doubled following his stellar performances. The 23-year-old's pace, skill and ambition down the left flank was a joy to behold, and the way he clinically finished Spain's second goal in the final will have Primera Liga defences quaking in their boots.

Midfielders

Xabi Alonso (Spain): In a sight to reduce Liverpool fans to tears, I'm reuniting former Anfield favourite Alonso in midfield with Gerrard. The 30-year-old often plays in the shadow of his more eye-catching team-mates, but he really stepped up to the plate in Poland and Ukraine, providing the midfield heartbeat of the team, spraying the ball around with consummate ease - and chipping in with two goals too.

Steven Gerrard (England): Liverpool talisman Gerrard has finally been given the freedom to rule the roost for country as well as club - and rewarded Roy Hodgson's faith in him with a true captain's innings. His ability to put the ball on a six pence set up goals for Joleon Lescott, Andy Carroll and Wayne Rooney - and I'd love to see him playing alongside Alonso again.

Andrea Pirlo (Italy): Pundits were starting to run out of superlatives for playmaker Pirlo, so it's a good job he never got a look in against Spain in Kiev. Del Bosque got his tactics spot on, ensuring the 33-year-old never got any time or space on the ball - and was on the edge of his own penalty box whenever he did get any possession.

But putting the final aside, Pirlo had a tremendous tournament, keeping the Italians on the job until he produced a midfield masterclass which bewitched and bedazzled a previously-impressive Germany outfit, who could only watch and admire his definitive display of movement and elegant passing.

Attacking midfielders

David Silva (Spain): Silva's fine form for Manchester City meant Spain's loss of star striker David Villa was softened slightly - and he revelled in being given an attacking free role, scoring twice and creating three goals.

The 26-year-old was a joy to behold and a nightmare to mark as he roamed all over the attacking third creating havoc and chances aplenty. He was also in the right place at the right time when it really mattered, finishing off a flowing move involving Iniesta and Fabregas with a quite brilliant angled header to open the scoring against the Italians in the final.

Andres Iniesta (Spain): We're following Del Bosque's suit by asking Iniesta, deservedly named UEFA's Player of the Tournament, to play high up the pitch where his eye for a killer pass can be most destructive. The 28-year-old may not have found the back of the net in Poland or Ukraine - but his influence on Spain's play and tempo was as great as ever, meaning he comfortably makes our team of Top Men.

Forward

Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal): It looked like the tournament might pass him by when Portugal limped to an opening group defeat by Germany.

But after a thrilling 3-2 win over Denmark, Ronaldo clicked into gear, putting on his prolific goal-scoring boots to bag a deadly double against the Dutch.

That display laid the foundations for his terrific tour de force against the Czech Republic, when he huffed and puffed so hard he eventually blew their house down with a brilliant header, having ran rings around their defence and rattled the woodwork on numerous occasions.

Sadly we'll never know if he would have beaten club colleague and fellow Top Man Casillas in the semi-final penalty shoot-out as he saved the best until last in a bid for ultimate glory - ending with glorious failure instead.

But the Real Madrid man gets the nod to lead our mouth-watering attack in what is far from a one-man show.

So that's my team - now pick your own Top Men!

By Simon Wilkes

TEAMtalk Editor

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