Stoppage Time: Spain, Italy dominate All-Euro Team
(Sports Network) - If Vicente del Bosque had to select an all-tournament squad for Euro 2012, you could not blame the Spain coach if he picked all of his own players.
Every other coach in the Euro finals might select the entire Spain squad also.
While that would not be a bad idea after Spain defeated Italy on Sunday to win its third straight major title, that would be a little unfair to the many good players who are just unlucky not to pull on a Le Roja jersey.
Spain became the first team to defend a Euro title, adding Euro '12 to its win in the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2008. The Spaniards are the first national team to win three straight major titles.
The Spaniards defeated Italy, 4-0, on Sunday at Olympic Stadium in the final - and cemented their spot among the best international teams ever, perhaps making a case as the best.
Spain is well represented in our 4-5-1, but a few of the country's plethora of stars could not make our all-Euro team. That being said, it's possible the top 11 players who are not Spanish could not have combined to end Spain's reign.
While there are others who could easily step onto our 14-man team, here's goes nothing.
Mario Balotelli, Forward, Italy
Euro 2012 was close to becoming a tournament void of a dominant striker when a 21-year-old as well known for his antics off the field flexed his muscle on it for Italy. Balotelli scored twice in the semifinals against Germany, and posed with his jersey off and his muscles flexed. Just Balotelli being Balotelli.
Andres Iniesta, Midfielder, Spain
Iniesta received too much credit for scoring the winning goal in the World Cup final in 2010, but he has not received enough for his performances in Euro '12 this summer. Just one assist in the tournament, stats do lie. Iniesta has been remarkable for Spain, and a major reason it won another final.
Mesut Ozil, Midfielder, Germany
An old-fashioned type player, Ozil could pull strings in midfield for any team in the tournament. He finished with a goal and three assists, and his vision, distribution and unselfishness were impressive. At just 23, Ozil is way ahead of the curve, and would have had a better tournament if teammates converted.
Cristiano Ronaldo, Midfielder, Portugal
The lasting image of Ronaldo will be him waiting to take a penalty kick in the semifinals against Spain, only to watch the shootout end before he got a shot. Still, the Real Madrid man had three goals and displayed his brilliance with a a number of spectacular misses, even if he was slowed by Germany and Spain.
Andrea Pirlo, Midfielder, Italy
Pirlo defied age (he turned 33 less than a month before Euros started) with an incredible performance in Euro 2012, and could make a claim as the best player of the tournament. Calm and cool, Pirlo directed the Azzurri to a surprise run to the final. His penalty against England will be remembered for years.
David Silva, Midfielder, Spain
Two goals - including the first in the final fixture against Italy - and three assists, and that just scratches the surface of how well Silva played in Euros this summer. In addition to his role scoring and setting up goals, Silva was a dominant force in Spain's odd six-man midfield.
Jordi Alba, Defender, Spain
Alba emerged as the left back of the present - and future - for Spain. He was able to contribute on both ends, and sealed a transfer to Barcelona during the tournament. Just when it seems Spain may have a hole in its team, someone like Alba breaks out of the shadows as a new star. He also scored in the final.
Leonardo Bonucci, Defender, Italy
The Juventus man proved he was not a weak link in Italy's defense, and was the lone defender to play in every match of Euros for the Azzurri. He just debuted for Italy in 2010, and his performances this summer should give Juve and Italy a solid option for years to come.
Giorgio Chiellini, Defender, Italy
Chiellini missed the quarterfinals against England due to a hamstring injury, and left the final early, but the knock was the only knock on his game in Euro 2012. A steady presence throughout, Chiellini helped anchor an impressive back line that took pressure off the rest of the squad.
Sergio Ramos, Defender, Spain
Did you notice Carles Puyol was absent for Spain in Euro '12? Well, the credit goes to Ramos. With injured veteran Puyol out of the tournament, Ramos became a rock for the Spaniards in the back alongside Gerard Pique. The back line for Spain never gets enough credit, but it has been a major part of its dynasty.
Iker Casillas, Goalkeeper, Spain
Casillas typically has very little to do, and that was the case yet again this summer in the Euro finals. But when the veteran does come under pressure, he's still as good as they get. Although few and far between, Casillas made the big saves when he needed to, including one in a shootout in the semifinals.
Steven Gerrard, Midfielder, England
England's best player in the tournament, Gerrard had three assists (the Three Lions scored just four goals). The Three Lions captain turned 32 just ahead of the tournament, but England fans hope he remains with the squad for at least a few more years.
Mats Hummels, Defender, Germany
Hummels was impressive in his first major tournament, stepping into the lineup alongside Holger Badstuber in central defense. Although he might be remembered for giving Antonio Cassano too much space to deliver a pass that Balotelli put in the net for the first goal in the semis, it should not ruin his Euros.
Xavi, Midfielder, Spain
Xavi has played a bit of a behind-the-scenes role at Euros, but it would be a crime to leave the midfield magician off this team. As solid and steady as can be expected, Xavi continued to play a crucial role in Spain's possession-style game. It is a bit odd to see Xavi on the bench, though.