This competition was full of surprises, even until the very end. Here at KICKRS.NET, we loved Iceland and Wales’s success story, as well as Italy’s tactical masterpiece. But what we particularly appreciated was the great performances of U23-Talents. Here are the best players by position based on the scoring system we used for our fantasy game. We used the average score per game to judge overall success. For each talent, you will find his best score, his worst and the average score he has during the competition:
Eddie Example (Best : 70 / Worst : 62 / Avg : 65)
The best goalkeepers of this Euro were all in their 30s already; naming Rui Patricio, Gianluigi Buffon or Manuel Neuer. But don`t forget Thibaut Courtois! He was the only U23 goalkeeper playing in a starting lineup of the competition. Chelsea’s young goalie proved again why he’s worth 35M€ (TM.com). Antonio Conte must jump circles to have a young version of Buffon waiting for him at Stamford Bridge!
Courtois (Best : 84 / Worst : 67 / Avg : 71)
This Euro revealed many talents, especially in the defensive sector. It’s difficult to choose a best player between talents such as Ben Davies who did a great job with the Welsh team, or Shkodran Mustafi who was the best U23 of the group stage. Talent scouts remember Ben Davies’s goal line clearance against Slovakia in the first minutes of the game. As a matter of fact, the only game he did not play was the semi-final against Portugal, and we all know the final result.
But the real MVP of centre backs was actually Fabian Schär. The talent of German side TSG Hoffenheim showed with his goal against Albania good skills early one. Especially successful passes (225 vs. 301 by Mats Hummels) and pass precision (88% vs. 90% by Mats Hummels) was outstanding for a centre back that age.
Davies (Best : 79 / Worst : 70 / Avg : 75)
Mustafi (Best: 91 / Worst : 63 / Avg : 71)
Schär (Best: 88 / Worst : 72 / Avg : 77)
If the choice was hard for centre back, the choice for the best full back is even worse. Ricardo Rodriguez did a great job for Switzerland. Being consistent by always providing much effort in the games; defensively and offensively. There must be a reason, why Switzerland didn`t loose a single game in regular time. However, we’re amazed by the performances of Joshua Kimmich and Raphael Guerreiro. The first one had a tough task: Replace German legend Philipp Lahm. But let`s face it: Raphael Guerreiro won his first big international tournament in his first attempt! The young left-back impressed by his consistency and killer determination. It was the first international competition on professional level for both players. We can’t wait to see them play the German classico (Bayern vs Dortmund) in November!
Kimmich’s (Best : 80 / Worst : 68 / Avg : 74)
Guerreiro’s (Best : 80 / Worst : 72 / Avg : 75)
Rodriguez’s (Best : 84 / Worst : 71 / Avg : 75)
It’s hard to select a best midfield since attack won’t have the same statistics as defense. Really, how do you want to compare a Sergio Busquets with an Ivan Rakitic or a Mesut Özil? And is there actually the need to compare those players 1:1? Aren`t they very different?
On the defensive part, two U23 players distinguished themselves during this Euro. The first one had the bad luck to be born in England and to play for a team filled with the best European players but a coach using classic english tactics: “If I`m down by one goal, put some more strikers on!” Eric Dier was THE surprise in the english squad. He did an awesome job following the footsteps of greats such as Franck Lampard or Steven Gerrard. The task is not yet done, but we can see a great hope and future for this young talent currently playing for the Spurs. He was definitely the best English player during this competition.
The second talent played more games than Dier, and had the privilege to lift the trophy. Indeed, the best defensive midfielder was Portuguese ("another one!"). William Carvalho impressed with his physical abilities during this Euro by playing almost all the games until the end. When you realize that Portugal did three games with extra-time...That means a lot! He was also really efficient to be the link between defense and offense, by doing many short passes (307 successful passes vs. 195 successful passes by Kante) and long passes with an outstanding precision (67% vs 50% by Kante). Reminds us about some guy called Toni Kroos (582 successful passes and 79% precision in long balls) … We don’t think that he will stay forever in Portugal, or maybe we don’t want him to?!
Dier’s (Best : 80 / Worst : 63 / Avg : 72)
Carvalho’s (Best : 75 / Worst : 68 / Avg : 71)
Let’s now talk about goals, assists and offensive contribution! This means at one point, we talk about the official best young player of the Euro: Renato Sanches (we promise, it’s the last Portuguese player). What could we say more than all the press said about this really young player (18 years!!!)? Maybe that we can’t wait to watch him play with Joshua Kimmich at Bayern next year! Sanches really added something to Portugal’s game, which started the competition with André Gomes. The problem is, Andre Gomes wasn`t very consistent and rather worked the right wing. Sanches brought with his vivacity, explosive power and physical strength the midfield mix Fernando Santos needed to balance his team. Ask the Polish defensive how they felt after Sanches owned them in the quarter finals. This performance was for sure one of the best we ever saw from a young player like him. We just hope that the rumours about his age are not even close to the truth!
But another talent could have been a nation’s hero in France. Paul Pobga was one of the most observed players on the pitch. Already wanted by the best clubs in the world like Manchester United, Chelsea or Real Madrid. Pobga was the 4th best Euro player regarding our fantasy game. Even when he seemed to disappoint, Pobga actually dide better than most other players! Every team wants a player who hits more than the average on his bad days. Pogba is this kind of player who solves problems on the pitch intuitively and hardly does a mistake. It could be a long unexpected shot, an amazing long lateral pass or even an outstanding dribble, like the one against Germany in the semi-final, just before creating the chance which led to Griezmann’s goal. One thing is sure: Pogba could be one of the best players in the world, if he masters his temper, just like that guy called Zidane...
Sanches’s (Best : 92 / Worst : 61 / Avg : 69)
Pogba’s (Best : 83 / Worst : 68 / Avg : 75)
Let’s be honest, we expected way more from strikers and attacking midfielders in this Euro. When a single tournament gathers talents such as Harry Kane, Alvaro Morata, Romelu Lukaku, Kingsley Coman, Dele Alli or Mario Götze… You set the expectations pretty high! We don’t say that they were all bad, but please, never let Harry Kane take free-kicks and corner kicks again, and for the sake of football, find a right position for Mario Götze. That being said, the best attacking players were not the ones we expected. The first one comes from the armada of young players of Switzerland. He scored a beautiful bicycle kick against Poland… did you guess it? Xherdan Shaqiri, of course! The small beast did not score many goals, but helped the team by creating chances and crucial moments. Regarding our fantasy game scores, he was actually the 2nd best talent of the tournament.
The second best attacking player was German. It’s not a hard guess since he was one of the only U23 among the experienced German team. Julian Draxler’s time in Wolfsburg is almost done that’s for sure. After an Euro like the one he had, we don’t really imagine him staying at “die Wölfe” (the wolves) for too long. Good news, the whole market is still open for the 22 year old. With his dribbling skills, we would really like to see him playing in the Premier League. Honestly, his performance against Slovakia was close to perfection. Always creating dangerous situations, he was a nightmare for Slovakia’s defense, while Muller was...a ghost.
Okay, now we know what you are thinking: But who was the best pure U23 striker?
Thanks to his performance against Turkey, Alvaro Morata. He scored two goals and led the team to an easy victory. But regardless the Turkey game, Morata was not more than an average striker.. Quite disappointing for the new Real Madrid acquisition.
Shaqiri’s (Best : 87 / Worst : 67 / Avg : 76)
Draxler’s (Best : 95 / Worst : 64 / Avg : 74)
Morata’s (Best : 92 / Worst : 60 / Avg : 72)
So our overall best talent of the EURO 16 fantasy game was...drum-roll...Fabian Schär! Who would have thought that??
Here is for you our best Euro U23’s XI regarding our fantasy game, playing in a Guardiola style 4-1-4-1:
Questions/Comments/Feedback? Feel free to post below, thanks!