Looking around the journalistic universe – we’re all packing up our memories, buying up the last of our metaphorical souvenirs and moving on from Euro 2012 – there seems to be a split vote on top player from the Poland and Ukraine proceedings.
Some have offered up Italy’s Andrea Pirlo (pictured), who truly lorded over matches with an effortless beauty few will ever match.
Others are offering up Andres Iniesta, many citing the Spaniard’s performance, feisty and commanding, in yesterday’s final as the deciding vote.
A few have even suggested it was Mario Balotelli; his two strikes in the Italians’ top tourney moment, the surprising win over Germany, certainly were breathtaking.
Me? I’ll take Pirlo, not because he’s a better player than Iniesta (he’s not, necessarily) but rather for the more substantial impact of his contributions.
Vicente del Bosque’s team, clearly the tournament’s top collection of talent and surely among the best national teams our planet has ever been privileged to witness, could have claimed this third consecutive major tournament title without their versatile attacker.
But I’d bet an delicious beef sandwich from my favorite, local Italian store that Italy would not have arrived in Sunday’s final without Pirlo’s contributions, especially that absolutely peerless, landmark evening of domination against England.
Still, it’s a tough call, because Iniesta really was something else at the moment that mattered most, on Sunday, the driving force on attack as he operated in such perceptively selected spaces.
Richard Farley, our resident expert on all things Euro 2012, had his say earlier today on the blog.
While you think up your top men, top performances, etc., here are a bunch of opinions from the football smarties at The Guardian.