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Euro 2012 Team of Matchday 1: Shevchenko, Dzagoev & Modric make the early headlines

Euro 2012 Team of Matchday 1: Shevchenko, Dzagoev & Modric make the early headlines

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The anticipation is over and each team has played once at Euro 2012, Goal.com takes you through the players who lived up to their billing

Euro 2012 has provided some sensational action even at this early stage of the tournament, with several star players already stepping to the fore in Poland and Ukraine.

Starting between the posts, Przemyslaw Tyton spared the home crowd disappointment after Wojciech Szczesny's horror show for Poland that saw him concede a sloppy goal and get sent off. The PSV goalkeeper came straight off the bench to deny Giorgos Karagounis from the penalty spot with a superb diving stop and assisted the co-hosts in holding on for a share of the points with Greece.

Moving to the defence, Mathieu Debuchy has stepped up in the absence of Bacary Sagna to further boost his blossoming reputation. The Lille right-back, who is already on the radar of Inter and Roma, did well to quell the threat of England's Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and also made a number of fruitful runs forward in the 1-1 draw.

Italy employed a new 3-5-2 formation against Spain, but it was Daniele De Rossi who made it a gamble worth taking due to his impressive performance in defence, despite being accustomed to playing in midfield. The Roma icon was impeccable at the back in the 1-1 stalemate with several perfectly-timed challenges to deny the champions goal-scoring opportunities in Gdansk.

Denmark shocked the continent with a 1-0 victory over Netherlands in Group B and Simon Kjaer put a relatively poor club season behind him with a superb showing to shut out the Oranje. He grew in stature as the game progressed and when the Dutch attempted a late onslaught they could not find a way past the 23-year-old centre-back.

Bringing forward his tenacious tackling and unyielding displays from Chelsea's recent Champions League triumph to the international stage, Ashley Cole was once again near-flawless and a leader in England's disciplined defensive outing against Les Bleus.

In midfield, Roman Shirokov continued his knack for goal-scoring during Russia's 4-1 dismantling of Czech Republic. The Zenit star latched onto Andrey Arshavin's pass to score his side's second goal and was a dominant force in the centre of the pitch.

Luka Modric was clearly a step ahead of everyone else on the pitch in Poznan. The Croatian playmaker was given time in midfield and he certainly made the Republic of Ireland pay as he ensured Slaven Bilic's side dictated the pace of the match from start to finish and pulled the strings with a pass completion rate of over 90 per cent.

Another celebrated midfield maestro, Andres Iniesta, was a catalyst in Spain's entertaining draw with the Azzurri and his give-and-go passing started the move that led to Cesc Fabregas' equaliser, while his runs often pierced the Italian defence to dangerous effect.

The standout player of the round was arguably Alan Dzagoev. A star was seemingly born as the Russia starlet pounced on a rebound off the post to finish emphatically for his first goal against Czech Republic. He then collected a pass from Roman Pavlyuchenko just inside the area and lashed the ball past Petr Cech for his second.

Elsewhere, as if written in a Hollywood script, Ukraine's most recognisable footballer, Andriy Shevchenko, turned back the clock to lift his country to an opening victory on home soil and put them in pole position in Group D. Few were backing the co-hosts to impress at Euro 2012, but the former AC Milan and Chelsea striker started them off on the right foot with a pair of classic headed goals for a 2-1 win over Sweden.

Finally, Mario Mandzukic was another who used his head to good effect. The Croatia striker's two goals to down Ireland were the result of superbly-directed headers that left goalkeeper Shay Given with no chance.


TYTON
POLAND
Player Rating: 3.5

DEBUCHY DE ROSSI
KJAER COLE
FRANCE ITALY
DENMARK ENGLAND
Player Rating: 3.5 Player Rating: 4
Player Rating: 4 Player Rating: 3

SHIROKOV MODRIC INIESTA
RUSSIA
CROATIA SPAIN
Player Rating: 4
Player Rating: 4 Player Rating: 4

DZAGOEV
SHEVCHENKO
MANDZUKIC
RUSSIA
UKRAINE
CROATIA
Player Rating: 4.5 Player Rating: 4.5
Player Rating: 3.5

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