Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates after scoring his second goal against Netherlands during their Group B Euro 2012 soccer match at the Metalist stadium in Kharkiv June 17, 2012. (Photo : REUTERS/Michael Buholzer)
Xavi Hernandez, Theodoros Zagorakis, Zinedane Zidane, Marco van Basten, Michel Platini, Jurgen Klinsmann, Gerd Muller. All of these men were the most valuable players of past Euro Cup championships. The tournament is still in its early stages, but a few players have already launched themselves onto the forefront as the best players in the tournament.
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Cristiano Ronaldo - Portugal
Ronaldo has been noticeable throughout the first three games for Portugal. For two games, he was noticeable for his inefficiency and inability to lead his team to victory. However, in the most critical game for Portugal, Ronaldo played perhaps his finest game in a Portuguese sweater. He not only scored two goals after his team trailed 1-0 in the early going against Netherlands; but he also created chance after chance and won the battle of the left side against Dutch superstar Arjen Robben. Ronaldo was wreaking so much havoc on the left side that in the second half, Robben was placed on the opposite wing in hopes of creating more space for the Dutch away from Ronaldo.
Ronaldo's confidence is probably sky high after his virtuosic display on Sunday and if this is the case, Portugal is going to be a dangerous team in the rest of the tournament.
Mesut Ozil - Germany
Germany has been the best team in the tournament by a long shot. They have won all of their matches and are clear favorites to take the Euro Crown from the Spanish. Germany's Mario Gomez might have three goals for the squad, but no one will deny that at the center of Germany's attack is the 23 year old Ozil who has commandeered the German offense with confidence and creativity. If the Germans are going to get far in this tournament, they will need Ozil to continue outwitting opponents' defense.
Steven Gerrard - England
The British have not been particularly convincing to this point in the tournament, but have managed to find a way to win two of their first three matches against arguably better teams and even won Group D. How did they do it? The answer lies with Captain Steven Gerrard who has been the motor to the English offense and has already recorded three assists on England's five goals. He has recorded assists in every single match of the tournament, emphasizing his consistency. The 32 year old has been lethal with his crosses through the air and has enabled England to utilize its height advantage to implement it aerial game.
Cesc Fabregas - Spain
He scored the tying goal against Italy when it seemed impossible. His reward? He started on the bench in game two against Ireland. He eventually found himself on the pitch in the 74th minute and scored a goal nine minutes later. In the third match against Croatia he also started on the bench. However, when his replacement Fernando Torres seemed unable to do much against the Eastern European defense, Fabregas came back on in the 73 minute to once again do what seemed impossible. Spain had tried low grounded passes through the Croatian defense time and again, but was unable to do much. Fabregas opted for something else: he lofted the ball over the Croatians to an open Andres Iniesta who set up the game winning goal. Aside from Goalkeeper Iker Casillas, Fabregas has been Spain's most consistent player in the tournament and the only one who has found a way when the rest of the squad has not. He should start against France and his play will have a major impact on how far Spain goes in this tournament.
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