Image 1 of 11: Gianluigi Buffon - (34) Italy's experienced goalkeeper, team captain, and world cup winner from 2006 is considered by some to be one of the all time finest goalkeepers. He saved Ashley Cole's penalty, kept a cool head under pressure, and was a model captain whose composure was reflected in his teammates during the shoot-out.
Image 1 of 11: Glen Johnson (27) - the defender struck more than once, and managed to present the biggest threat to Italy. He just missed an opportunity in the first 5 mins to his credit, but was still remembered as one of the bright spots in the match for England with his all-round decent performance.
Image 1 of 11: John Terry (31) - the seasoned defender shone in an otherwise lackluster-paced match, as a true leader of the back-line. He performed tightly, despite the controversy pre-competition. His display included excellent timing in blocking, anticipating critical front-line offensive moves. He showed awareness & composure in this tense, scoreless match.
Image 1 of 11: Sergio Ramos (26) - Real Madrid's defender put on a disciplined display that just about neutralized Les Bleus' offense – and made life easier for his fellow defender. He was nippy around the pitch - sharp for speed and anticipation. It wasn't out of his remit to assist in attacks every now and then.
Image 1 of 11: Philipp Lahm (28) - Germany's scorer of the opening goal against Greece reminded everyone again of his caliber, and gave Greece a run for its 'money'. When their frontline couldn’t deliver, Lahm was there to bail them out!
Image 1 of 11: Xabi Alonso (30) - played his centennial match with Spain and scored a brace for the occasion. A fitting celebratory finish, putting 2 past the French was the cherry on his centennial cake. He made a strong team-player by assisting the squad and was himself a show of solid composed play.
Image 1 of 11: Sami Khedira – (25) the defensive (minded) German midfielder scored a sublime volley goal to cap an all-round solid performance from behind the scenes (off-the-ball), seen at his best in his man-marking anticipation.
Image 1 of 11: Andrea Pirlo – (33) controlled the tempo of the game in one of the best displays of the tournament so far. Accurate passing combined with fantastic dribbling presented a nightmare for England. All passes went through the man who capped his performances with a gutsy Penanka in the penalty shoot-out - just a sample of his creative flare & finesse.
Image 1 of 11: Cristiano Ronaldo (27) - the superstar Portuguese silenced critics again, scoring a winning header against the Czechs. His explosive display of speed & stamina came again to Portugal's rescue. Consistently the focal point for his team’s frontline, his teammates looked for him. On course for World's Best Player and player of the tournament so far.
Image 1 of 11: Marco Reus (23) - the German's surprise debut inclusion for the team pitted against Greece was a sound bet. Any trust his coach placed in his selection was rewarded with a stunning ice-cold finish volley-goal. Fast & creative, his flurries wreaked havok for the Greeks. Sure to leave Coach Loew in a positive quandary for the Semi's team selection.
Image 1 of 11: Miroslav Klose (34) - the German striker of Polish descendency on Polish grounds was a winning mix. He scored a header against Greece and used his experience to remind us, as well as his coach, why he remains one of the best German strikers the previous decade. His presence paid dividends for the overall performance of the team.
With the QFs behind us, the Editors at Al Bawaba present their picks from the teams that played the quarter final round in the Euro Championships, 2011.
The teams that made it to the semis were the best performers, in a set of less-than-thrilling matches that failed to live up to the Quarter Final expectations. England v. Italy gave us a tense penalty shoot-out to compensate for an undewhelming game. In general the matches level fell short of expectations
In a nutshell, Portugal breezed through against the Czech Republic, who made their job easy, not presenting much of a challenge to the Iberian neighbors. Germany smashed Greece 4-2, Spain and France did not live up to par to give us a decent clash. For the Spaniards, another walk in the park, 2-0, akin to Portugal - Czech.
The toughest tie came between England and Italy in which the Azzurri dominated the game against a set of disappointing English tactics in an unusually defensive game-play. The winning formula of Catenaccio that worked for Chelsea let England's unrealistic expectations down. Italy indisputably were the deserving advancers to the Semifinal, on the back of a gripping penalty shoot-out.
We have selected a pool of best individual performances during this stage of the competition, and present it in the formation 4-5-1
They are, 2 Italians, 4 Germans, 2 English, 2 Spaniards, 1 Portuguese
Who are your bets on for the Semis? Share your Euro Championship 2012 comments here.