A round marked by exceptional underdog victories, Matchday 3 concluded an exciting Group Stage for the 2016 edition of the European Championship. FutbolPulse’s Euro 2016 correspondents again came together to compile their ‘Best XI’ for the final round of the group stages. Here is the FutbolPulse Writers’ Euro 2016 Team of Matchday 3, along with corresponding excerpts reviewing the highlights of each selection’s performances.
Michael McGovern (Northern Ireland)
The clubless goalkeeper was the hero for the Northern Irish in an all-important match that would determine the fate of his side in Euro 2016. From between the sticks, McGovern came out big at all the right moments to deny the German forwards on multiple occasion. McGovern made a particularly impressive save against a close-range strike from Mario Götze. Although the Germans finished on top, the Northern Irish goalkeeper’s efforts kept the score to just 1-0, keeping his team’s goal differential to a minimum that saw them through to the knockout round.
Neil Taylor (Wales)
The Swansea defender was relatively solid in defense for Wales’ impressive 3-0 victory over Russia. Racked up an 85% pass accuracy and played a role in the build up to multiple efforts from out the back. Taylor scored his first international goal on the 20th minute in a match that saw Wales finish on top in Group B.
Kári Árnason (Iceland)
Árnason put in a fantastic shift in the Iceland backline to neutralize the Austrian attack and see his team advance to the knockout round with a 2-1 victory over Iceland. The Malmö player was a rock in defense, making a number of important tackles and clearances. Flicked the ball Bödvarsson for an assist on the 18th minute, and made a crucial goal-line clearance early into the second half to prevent Austria from taking the lead.
Darijo Srna (Croatia)
The Croatian right-back patrolled the right flank with authority as an impressive Croatian victory saw them replace Spain as Group D victors. Reinforced a solid Croatian back line and sent in a number of threatening crosses into the opposition box.
Robbie Brady (Republic of Ireland)
The shining star in Ireland’s incredible 1-0 victory over Italy. In an undoubtedly dominant Irish performance, Brady set up a number of chances for his side with eight crosses and a total of three key passes. The Norwich man won every single duel and tackle attempted. Brady scored the decisive goal just minutes from full time after sending a header into the net to increase the Irish point tally to 4 and advance his team to the knockout round.
Radja Nainggolan (Belgium)
The tireless midfielder was at his best in Belgium’s encounter with Sweden. Controlled the middle of the field with excellent distribution to his teammates up front and a great defensive showing to support the back line. Capped off a great performance with an unforgettable match-winning strike to beat Swedish ‘keeper Andreas Isaksson from 25 yards out.
Balázs Dzsudzsák (Hungary)
Dzsudzsák was the hero for the Hungarians in an incredible night that would see his side finish on top of Group F. A commanding performance on the right flank saw the Bursaspor man in the center of every attack. He would eventually gain the lead for the Hungarians on two separate occasions, the first after a powerful free kick was deflected into the net and the second after a curling effort took another lucky deflection for a goal.
Aaron Ramsey (Wales)
A fantastic performance from the Welsh midfielder. Ramsey dictated play from the center of the pitch, making a total of six key passes and an overall 84% pass accuracy throughout the match. Finished off a superb assist from compatriot Joe Allen clinically over goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev to open the scoring on the 11th minute.
Ivan Perišić (Croatia)
A man-of-the-match performance from Ivan Perišić. The Inter Milan man played an important role both on and off the ball, while succeeding in nearly all duels and dribbles attempted. Sent in a delicious cross to striker Nikola Kalinić for a wonderful opening goal, and himself grabbed the winner in the closing minutes with an astounding solo goal to defeat the current European Championship title holders.
Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal)
The three time Ballon d’Or winner showed up when his country most needed him to find the equalizer for the Portuguese twice against a fantastic Hungary side. Controlled Portugal’s attack with an 88% pass accuracy and an overall terrorizing presence in the opposition box. Latched on to two crosses – the first with his back heel on the 50th minute and the second after rising high with his head on the 62nd – to seal an important 3-3 draw that would see Portugal advance the the next round as the third-placed team in Group F.
Gareth Bale (Wales)
Bale continues to impress in the Euros, capping off the group stage with another goal to make it three in as many matches. The Real Madrid winger did well to exploit open spaces in an overall sloppy Russian defense. Threatened the goal on eight separate occasions, and finally grabbed one for himself as some combination play with Aaron Ramsey cut right through the opposition back line to grant Bale a 1v1 opportunity against Akinfeev.