The UEFA Euro 2016 group stage came to an end in dramatic fashion as Portugal, Iceland, Belgium and Republic of Ireland secured their places in the knockout phase. It brought us a number of extraordinary performances with a host of players stepping up for their nations. However, we also had the opportunity to see experienced footballers ruining their countries’ hopes of advancing with their below-par and even dreadful performances.
What follows is the combined lineup of the players who let down their nations in the Euro 2016 group stage.
Goalkeeper: David de Gea (Spain)
David de Gea beats Salvatore Sirigu for the goalkeeping position in our flop XI.
The Spaniard had little problems in the first two matches as he watched his team dominate proceedings against the lowly Turkey and the Czech Republic. It was Croatia that put his abilities to a proper test for the first time in the tournament – and he failed miserably.
His needless dribbling left Rakitic with a glorious chance to score early on, but the Croatian could only find the crossbar. Went on to concede two goals at the near post, both of which could have been easily avoided.
Right-back: Aleksandar Dragovic (Austria)
Dragovic may just be the worst flop of the tournament. The Austrian defender was sent off in the first game which Austria promptly lost to Hungary and then had to sit out the stalemate with Portugal. He returned to the starting lineup in the Austria’s final Euro 2016 match, but he once again played a huge part in his team’s demise, missing a crucial penalty against Iceland.
Center-back: Lorik Cana (Albania)
Similar to Dragovic, Lorik Cana will want to forget this tournament as soon as possible. The Albanian captain started eagerly, perhaps too eagerly, since he was sent off after he picked up two yellow cards in the opening 30 minutes. He had to sit out the second match and was left out of the starting XI in the third-round game against Romania that his team dully won 1-0.
Center-back: Ricardo Carvalho (Portugal)
Considering the fact that Ricardo Carvalho turned 38 recently, it is hardly surprising to see him included in the worst XI. Portugal may have had the luck to avoid tougher opponents in the group stage and their defence was rarely tested, but once the knockout stage starts, they may be in serious trouble. If Hungary found a way to exploit Carvalho’s shortcomings, you can bet others will do the same.
Left-back: Viacheslav Shevchuk (Ukraine)
The Shakhtar left-back embodies Ukraine’s failure to adapt amidst a generational switch in the national team. His reluctance to go forward and inability to deal with opposing attackers left the Ukraine unable to compete on either front on the left side of the pitch. A tournament to forget not only for Shevchuk, but the entire Ukraine.
Right midfielder: Arda Turan (Turkey)
Arda Turan came into the tournament as the biggest name in the Turkey squad, but delivered very little. His performance against Croatia was particularly troubling – not only did he struggle to create chances for his teammates, but he was also unable to get himself into dangerous spaces. In the end, he simply passed the ball around until the agony was over. Although his next performances were somewhat better, he was still far from his usual best.
Central midfielder: Roman Neustadter (Russia)
Roman Neustadter famously received his Russian passport merely months before the tournament as Russia tried to prepare itself for the UEFA Euro 2016. However, Neustadter was virtually invisible on the pitch, much like the rest of the Russian midfield. We could perhaps forgive his inability to create chances for his teammates – he is a defensive midfielder after all – but the fact that he even failed to provide any sort of cover for his center-backs is simply unforgivable.
Left midfielder: Raheem Sterling (England)
Once again, Sterling produced a few dazzling performances, but failed to deliver. Frustratingly, his quick footwork regularly put him in good positions, but his final balls left a lot to be desired. Considering the wealth of talent available to Roy Hodgson, this tournament may already be over for the 21-year-old winger.
Right forward: Robert Lewandowski (Poland)
Lewandowski came into Euro 2016 as the focal point of the Polish attack, but he has so far failed his country. He was subdued throughout the tournament, but he even managed to miss the few good chances he was given. Unless he rediscovers his goalscoring form soon, Poland are as good as gone.
Center forward: Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Sweden)
Similar to Lewandowski, Ibrahimovic came into the tournament as his team’s star player, but he failed to produce virtually anything. He has decided to retire from international duty after Euro 2016, but considering his performances, one may as well assume he had given up even before the tournament started.
Left forward: Mario Gotze (Germany)
Despite rumors that he was unwanted in Bayern Munich, Gotze retained his starting spot in Die Mannschaft. However, the lack of playing time in Bayern appears to have left a devastating impact on Gotze, who practically acted as a passer-by in all three games so far.
About the author – Dusan Lucic
Dusan has been writing sports related articles for 5 years and has a keen interest in the Premier League, Bundesliga and Serbian SuperLiga. He has previously written for Bleacher Report, Arena Sport, Sportal and The News Hub. He is currently studying Serbian language and literature at the university of Belgrade.