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BFW Roundtable: Best XI, Euro 2021 edition

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Euro 2021 champagne XI time! The BFW staff take their picks from a huge ensemble of talented players from Europe’s premier international competition.

Italy v Spain - UEFA Euro 2020: Semi-final
Chiellini and Pedri, two players who really impressed a lot of people in the Euros.
Photo by Justin Tallis - Pool/Getty Images

As we wait for Bayern Munich to really kick into action and with the Euros done and dusted, I called some BFW staffers to come forward and present their best XI picks from the competition. The only condition to stick to was the inclusion of at least four defenders, to give the formation some balance, since it is easy to get carried away with the midfielders and attackers, leaving three defenders at the back. Formations with wing backs and three CBs are allowed, though.

Otherwise, there is complete flexibility with the selection of the team and the formation. With that in mind, let’s check out the lineups:

Fergus25

Fergus has gone for a 4-1-2-1-2 formation with a diamond at the top, Busquets holding the fort with a dual pivot ahead of him, and a four CB defense that picks itself.

A solid 4-1-2-1-2 with a diamond up top.

The Spanish midfield was simply a joy to watch throughout the tournament with old timer Busquets showing how he is still the best in the game and Pedri being completely exquisite in all his actions. Furthermore, Denmark were the real standout team from the tournament and had to have a few players in this team. The heart that Schmeichel, Maehle and Hojbjerg showed throughout the competition was exceptional. Moreover, Schick for being top scorer, deserves his spot here — but really, he deserves the spot for that goal alone — a strike of the highest order and one of the greatest I’ve ever watched.

From Italy, while a bench warmer in early games, Chiesa really showed his qualities with inspired displays up top for the Azzuri. Chiesa ran his heart out every game and always seemed willing to get on the ball and be a catalyst. In addition, Chiellini was his cultured best throughout and inspired that Italy team — also, his pre penalties captain’s chat with Jordi Alba surely endeared him to all fans…Finally for the winners, Jorginho must be in this side. The pass master was deliciously metronomic, dictating the tempo of Italy and also contributed ferociously defensive wise with countless interceptions. To round off the team, the England defenders were solid and deserve their places in the team.

Chuck Smith

Chuck goes for our trusted favourite, the 4-2-3-1. Wow, just look at that.

A very balanced 4-2-3-1 (don’t we love to see it!)

I liked this 4-2-3-1 in capturing the best XI of the Euros (at least to me).

Patrick Schick and Federico Chiesa were two of the breakout stars of the tournament, while Cristiano Ronaldo won the Golden Boot. Emil Forsberg had a fantastic tourney in helping carry Sweden as well. I really — and I mean really — considered Raheem Sterling because I thought he was a difference maker throughout, but he just missed the cut for me.

Pierre-Emile Højbjerg and Pedri stood out to me for their extremely steady and heady play and I went with the four players on the backline that I just thought performed the best. I know Harry Maguire catches a lot of heat in England, but he was great in the tournament.

Giorgio Chiellini was an absolutely vital player for Italy and just edged out Leonardo Bonucci for a spot. Joakim Mæhle and Luke Shaw were the two best outside-backs/wing-backs in the tournament. I though long and hard about Yann Sommer over Gianluigi Donnarumma, but ultimately went with Donnarumma for his performance on the bigger stage.

Schnitzel01

I picked a standard 4-3-3, which has a nice symmetry to it.

A classic 4-3-3.

We start with Patrik Schick as the no. 9 (was there any doubt), on the back of a brilliant Euro campaign. Chiesa is a lock in for LW, because he was electric whenever he was on the pitch and is set to become one of Italy’s main faces moving forward. At RW, I picked Shaqiri ahead of Ronaldo and Sterling (!!) because he played for a team with much less individual quality and still performed brilliantly. He shone for the Swiss and was a big reason why they made it as far as the QFs.

The midfield picks are very straightforward. Pedri was really good and dazzled for Spain in that wide midfield role. Nicolo Barella was Italy’s best midfielder and offered a lot in attack (1 goal, 2 assists) while also controlling the tempo and putting in some good defensive work. Hojbjerg was outstanding as a deep lying playmaker (3 assists) and also defended resiliently, breaking down counters at the origin and winning the ball back at crucial points.

That four man defense needs no explanation... I’m just the 3rd person to pick the exact same defense, and for good reason. Shaw was superb, Chiellini and Maguire were both human walls and Maehle was one of the players of the tournament for me. He impressed me so much that I’ve been advocating for Bayern to sign him for some time now.

We round the lineup with Donnarumma in goal. “Who else?”, you may ask, and you’d be completely justified, because he was the player of the tournament, something totally deserved. He always stepped up during penalty shootouts and also made the most saves of any keeper in the tournament. Looks like Italy have found their next Buffon, or rather, their first Donnarumma.

Jack Laushway

Jack opts for an attack-minded 4-3-3 that shifts to a 4-1-4-1.

A very dynamic 4-3-3 (attack oriented).

The easiest positions for me to select were my attackers. Ronaldo and Schick were both absolute locks with 5 goals, regardless of whether they were penalties or not. Chiesa needs little thought to be included in this as well.

The midfield is where things start to get a little harder. Pedri for me, was possibly the best midfielder of the tournament and without a doubt, the best young player of the tournament. I thought Hojbjerg was great, but that penalty miss against Finland was an important one, so I’m taking Renato Sanches and Jorginho to finish off my midfield. Renato Sanches was an absolute game-changer when he was on the pitch for Portugal and Jorginho was crucial in Italy’s success.

I figured I would show some love to Jordi Alba who was great in Spain’s defense. Chiellini and Maguire were both absolute killers for their respective countries and deserve all the credit they receive. Denzel Dumfries completes my backline as he has great both attacking and defending for the Dutch. The goalkeeper has to be Sommer in my mind. Donnarumma was rock solid in the biggest games of the tournament, but Sommer was too impressive not to be named. Massive saves on many occasions for the Swiss.

Jake Fenner

Jake has gone for a standard 4-3-3 formation with a balanced midfield.

I’ll work my way from the back to the front.

I forgot how Gianluigi Donnarumma and I are the same age a while ago and it’s still confusing to me now that a 22-year-old keeper would just walk away to take a rumored backup role at PSG. Nevertheless, the man won Player of the Tournament and he deserved it.

The backline might require explaining, but not for the inclusion of the people in the final. Spinnazola is the reason why Italy didn’t win the game in regular time. He clearly added a different level of play and with him off the pitch, Italy seemed at times like they were struggling to keep it together. However, the Italian backline prevailed and Bonucci was a big reason why. Maguire didn’t play at all during the first two games of England’s Euros campaign, but he started the final five matches. He immediately improved England’s defense, helping them allow only two goals all tournament.

Which brings me to Vladimir Coufal. Feel free to levy bias accusations at me for picking a West Ham player and I’ll probably agree with you. But, Coufal’s performance for the Czech Republic helped them go far in this tournament. The Czechs only allowed four goals in the Euros and Coufal was a big reason why that number didn’t go higher. Not to mention, his two assists came at crucial times in the group stage (Schick’s first goal v. Scotland) and in the knockouts (only goal against Denmark).

The midfield speaks for itself, relatively. Pedri was the most consistent player on an inconsistent Spanish side and he should blossom in the future. Jorginho showed us all why he’s such an important player in Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea system by putting on a great box-to-box show each time he stepped on the pitch. Lastly, the former Bayern man Pierre-Emil Højbjerg helped catapult Denmark to the semifinals with three assists in crucial moments in the Dane’s campaign.

Finally, the front three. We all know why Schick and Chiesa deserve spots here. Schick scored a worldie and finished T-1 for most goals in the tournament. Chiesa was the attacking lifeblood of the team that went on and won the whole tournament. But, I can’t believe I am the only one on this list who picked Raheem Sterling up front. He scored the only two goals of England’s group stage efforts and bagged the first in an exorcism over Germany at Wembley. His one assist of the tournament - to Harry Kane - kicked off a scoring rampage over Ukraine. Even when he wasn’t scoring, he helped the team - especially when he won his team a decisive and controversial penalty against Denmark in the semifinals.