Below is a list of five nominations in no particular order. I will then pick my favourite before leaving it up to you, the readers, to decide.
Buffon – With the exception of a minor mistake in the build-up to Ruud Van
Nistelrooy’s ‘offside’ goal in the defeat to Holland,
Buffon was consistently superb in all of Italy’s four games. The Azzurri
would have been eliminated in the group stages had he not performed a
miraculous penalty save from Adrian Mutu in the draw with Romania. In the
next match against France,
he pulled off a world class fingertip stop from Karem Benzema. The 30-year-old
kept a second successive clean sheet in the 0-0 quarter final draw with Spain, and even
saved a penalty in the shootout, but unfortunately it wasn’t enough to go through.
Panucci – Played the opening game against Holland
at right back and really struggled. However he then moved into the centre for
the Romania clash, and he
formed a superb partnership with Giorgio Chiellini as Italy only
conceded one goal (following a freak mistake by Gianluca Zambrotta) in their
next three matches. Panucci was tactically excellent, and organised the
backline into a virtually impenetrable unit against Spain. He also scored a crucial
equaliser in the 1-1 draw with Romania.
Grosso – Scandalously only on the bench against the Dutch, Grosso changed the
game after being introduced as a second half substitute, bombarding down the
left flank. He was Italy’s
best outfield player in the draw with Romania, launching wave after wave
of attack from full back. He was sound during the matches against France and Spain, hitting the post with a curling
free kick against the former. One of the few Italy players who looked physically
at full fitness during these Euros.
4) Giorgio Chiellini – Italy put in one of the worst
defensive performances in the history of the national team during the 3-0 Dutch
debacle. Chiellini didn’t play in this game, and it is no coincidence that the
Azzurri backline looked formidable again with the hardman in the team for the
remaining three matches. His warrior-like performance against Spain, when he
completely owned the terrifying David Villa and Fernando Torres, will live long
in the memory.
De Rossi – Yet another player who was inexplicably left out against Holland. De Rossi
strengthened the midfield in the Romania game, and would have scored
but for a world class save from Bogdan Lobont. In the 2-0 win against France he was
the undisputed man-of-the-match, bossing the midfield, and even scoring, albeit
fortuitously. Did his job tactically against Spain, but unfortunately his last
kick of Euro 2008 was his penalty that was brilliantly saved by Iker Casillas.
My Vote: It is a straight fight between Juventus colleagues Buffon and
Chiellini, but ultimately there can only be one winner, and that is Buffon. Only Casillas can stop him from being named as the best goalkeeper at Euro 2008.
What are your views on this topic? Who gets your vote as Italy’s best
player at Euro 2008? Is there anyone not on this list who should have been
nominated? Goal.com wants to know what YOU think…