Quickly from Euros TOTW2 to, just a few days later, TOTW3. The group of death certainly didn’t disappoint with all four sides chopping and changing as the games went on, the whole tournament being very intriguing in general to be honest. The knockouts await us but for now, here is a team of the week for this gameweek. Are Netherlands a true contender? Can England knock off the Germans?
Goalkeeper- Jordan Pickford, England
Kicking things off between the sticks and I don’t think there were any real standouts, no keeper was head and shoulders above their opponents. With a slight bit of bias, Everton’s Jordan Pickford gets the nod, partly because he’s impressed in all three group games and also due to his distribution. Prior to Nick Pope’s injury, the only thing to support Pickford starting besides Southgate’s loyalty was how equipped he is with the ball at his feet. His long but precise balls have sprung attacks in periods when this less than exciting England side has bordered on stale.
CB- David Alaba, Austria
The first of three centre backs has not been playing there for their country but oh well, I am certainly getting handy with a crowbar. David Alaba’s versatility hits the ceiling when he dons the red of Austria and this competition has been no different, that free-roaming left-hand role allowing him to thrive. The Marko Arnautovic controversy aside, this has been a very good Euros for Franco Foda’s side, surprisingly good in fact. Alaba was great as they overcame Ukraine by a 1-0 scoreline and it will be fascinating to see how they fare when they meet Mancini’s Italy.
CB- Aymeric Laporte, Spain
Alongside Alaba is Aymeric Laporte, a man experiencing his first taste of international football after switching allegiances from France to Spain. Luis Enrique’s side weren’t put under a whole of pressure defensively by Slovakia and in general it was quite a straightforward game, but Laporte’s pairing with Man City teammate Eric Garcia looked strong. Laporte headed home the second in a 5-0 thrashing in impressive fashion as well as handling all of his duties at the back well.
CB- Alessandro Bastoni, Italy
Finally in the back-line is Alessandro Bastoni, a stand-in for Italy’s third game after they eased to victory in the opening two. The experienced duo Bonucci and Chiellini were split up with the latter making way for title-winning Serie A centre-half Bastoni. The Inter man looked very calm and collected on and off the ball, a testament to the good season he’s had as well as to the strong base that Mancini has built this squad on.
LM- Bukayo Saka, England
The clammer from England fans for Jack Grealish and/or Jadon Sancho to start against Czech Republic was impossible to ignore and whilst the former was in the XI, Dortmund’s star-boy was again left out. The man in his place was Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka and there was a lot of reaction to this decision too, the teenager being the man of the match though and vindicating Southgate’s seemingly bold call. He didn’t play on the left but he has to be in this side so he’s also been crowbarred in, is it impossible to drop him now?
CM- Renato Sanches, Portugal
On to another player that wasn’t in the starting team coming into the tournament and it is Renato Sanches, a man who has had a rough career path to date. From the highs of Bayern Munich spending huge money on him to a disappointing low spell with Swansea City, Sanches has seemingly found his feet at Lille and this is showing for Portugal too. His introduction to the midfield brought a new lease of life against France, his intensity will have left the likes of Pogba and Tolisso with nightmares, what a performance!
CM- Luka Modric, Croatia
Joining him in the centre of the park is a legend of the game, a star of the 2018 World Cup, Luka Modric. Many were doubting that Croatia would be able to reach the levels that they did in Russia due to an ageing squad but the consistency under Zlatko Dalic seems to be shining through. They started slowly by losing to England in the opener but they were superb against Scotland last time out, Perisic again playing well and Modric really rolling back the years. The Real Madrid man was sensational and he capped it off with one of the most satisfying goals you are likely to see this summer.
RM- Xherdan Shaqiri, Switzerland
Besides Breel Embolo looking good against Wales in the group opener, Switzerland haven’t really had any players come to the fore this tournament. One man that has done just that in previous competitions is Xherdan Shaqiri and he has repeated that when it mattered most. With one point from two games, their clash against Turkey had it all on the line. As well as Seferovic’s early goal, Shaqiri netted a brace against this disappointing Turkish side, two very good strikes may I add too.
LW- Emil Forsberg, Sweden
Alexander Isak has taken a lot of the attacking headlines in this Sweden squad and rightly so because he is some player, but Leipzig’s Emil Forsberg took Jan Andersson’s side to even dizzier heights. Forsberg scored the fastest goal of the tournament thus far against a dodgy Poland and he made it 2-0 with another tidy finish. He isn’t blessed with pace or strength but his technical ability is truly something special, he like this whole Sweden side really is underrated in my opinion.
ST- Memphis, Netherlands
On the topic of that enthralling affair between Sweden and Poland, the latter being temporarily rescued by a wonder-strike from Robert Lewandowski, closely followed by a textbook header from the Bayern man. This should have been enough to earn him a spot in this team but Memphis Depay continues to run all over that Man United flop tag for club and country. When he’s not scoring goals for the Netherlands he’s bringing the likes of Wijnaldum and Donyell Malen into the game around him. He found the back of the net against North Macedonia as well as assisting the other two, I think he’d be a good shout for Golden Boot from here on out if he wasn’t so good at playmaking as well as finishing!
RW- Mikkel Damsgaard, Denmark
Finally then to the lowest profile player on this team and for me, so far, the young player of the tournament; Mikkel Damsgaard. He’s not a huge name and he’s not playing for a huge nation but the winger has picked up where he left off after a decent season with Serie A side Sampdoria. Russia didn’t exactly but up much of a fight against the Danes but that shouldn’t take away from a professional performance under conditions that are still very tough I’m sure. Damsgaard curled home excellently in and amongst the four other goals from Denmark and I now can’t wait to watch him more for his club side this coming season.