Newcastle United's Yohan Cabaye And The Best XI From The Group Stages Of Euro 2012

Here's one man's pick of the best XI players from what we've seen so far in the Group Stages of Euro 2012, including Newcastle United's Yohan Cabaye....
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Here's one man's pick of the best XI players from what we've seen so far in the Group Stages of Euro 2012, including Newcastle United's Yohan Cabaye....

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Best Elevens are always about the best players playing sexy football in an imaginary team, and there is no formation sexier than that of a 4-3-3, so that's obviously how my team are set out. We'll have no two banks of four mediocrity under my watch. I'm also slightly biased against/negligent of Group A because I was busy washing my hair when they were playing or something like that.

So if you'd care to indulge me, I'll get my Statszone App out and do my best Garth Crooks impression for your reading pleasure.

Goalkeeper – Manuel Neuer - Germany

This was a tough call between Neuer and Casillas, when you look at the quality of oppostion that each keeper had to defend against, the position had to go to Neuer, who was stopping shots from world beaters like Cristiano Ronaldo, Robin Van Persie and, well, Nicklas Bendtner. Casillas on the other hand had to deal with Kevin Doyle and Simon Cox.

Left Back – Philip Lahm - Germany

Another easy choice, the German captain has been solid in all of his games, permeating an air calm confidence throughout. Is there any doubt in his or his team-mates minds that they're not going to win this tournament? I doubt it.

Centre Back – Gerard Pique - Spain

Not that he has had too much to do, but Pique has been reliable at the back for the Spanish and will surely continue to impress as they progress to the tougher games in the tournament. Against Italy Pique cleared the ball seven times, more than any other other player on the pitch.

Centre Back – Mats Hummels – Germany

Another rock at the back, Hummels has barely put a foot wrong in his three games. Against the Dutch, what should have been Germany's biggest games he actually managed two shots on target, with only Mario Gomez and Robin Van Persie bettering him in terms of shots, not bad for a centre back.

Due to Cabaye's boy band good looks he's also my begrudging Man Crush of the tournament.

Right Back – Darijo Srna - Croatia

In Spain's momentary wobble against Croatia it was this man who was leading the line. A threat down the right, either on the wing or from full back. In the 3-1 victory over Ireland Srna made the joint highest attacking third passes with 15 successful of an attempted 24.

Midfield – Yohan Cabaye – France

Before the tournament I'd have said the De Jong or Van Bommel were the best tactical foulers in the world, but after witnessing his performance against England, that crown now belongs to Cabaye. He's become the heart of the French team, as proven by their complete collapse against Sweden when he was rested. Due to his boy band good looks he's also my begrudging Man Crush of the tournament.

Midfield – Andrea Pirlo – Italy

He has been instrumental in the Italian midfield, in the draw against Spain he put the power passing trio of Xavi, Busquets and Alonso to shame with his seamless performance. His passing and vision makes the team click, and he brings a calmness and experience that lifts the squad above the disruptive distractions caused my a misfiring, moody Mario Balotelli.

Midfield – Steven Gerrard – England

Like many others, I had written Gerrard off before this tournament, for being too old, injured and ill disciplined. But I was wrong, Gerrard has been involved with the majority of England's goals, he was superb at keeping the side together and fighting back when it could have gone to pot against Sweden.

Zlatan also wins the prize for best interview by replying when asked who we thinks will win now Sweden are out “I don't give a s***, I'm going on holiday.”

Right Wing – David Silva – Spain

Scorer of a fantastic goal against Ireland, where he seemed to nutmeg the entirety of the Ireland defence with a simple tap. When a lot of the Spanish side has looked for short passes without any penetration, Silva has been a far more direct attacker and has linked up nicely with Fernando Torres, which the rest of the team seems to have struggled with.

Striker – Zlatan Ibrahimovic – Sweden

Throughout all of Sweden's games Ibrahimovic has been immense, centre backs have struggled to cope with his physicality, and he pairs his large size with an intricate technique and first touch that puts traditional target men to shame. If any one player is unlucky not to get through to the group stages it's Zlat. Plus he also wins the prize for best interview by replying when asked who we thinks will win now Sweden are out “I don't give a s***, I'm going on holiday.”

Left Wing – Cristiano Ronaldo – Portugal

He didn't deliver in the way he should have done against Germany in his first game, but two very good performances and Denmark and Netherlands have proven that he doesn't disappear in the big games. He'll be wanting to win the tournament to prove, at least to himself, that he's the best footballer in the world, not Messi.

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