Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates after defeating Czech Republic in their Euro 2012 quarter-final soccer match at the National stadium in Warsaw, June 21, 2012. (Photo : REUTERS/Peter Andrews)
Mezut Ozil, Cristiano Ronaldo, Cesc Fabregas, and Steven Gerrard. Those four were Latinospost's picks for the best players from the group stage of the Euro Cup 2012.
The quarter finals brought the spotlight on a plethora of other players. Here were the best three players from the four quarter finals matches.
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Anyone who thought that Ronaldo's virtuosic performance against the Netherlands was a fluke, will no longer be able to use that excuse to deny that Ronaldo may in fact be the best player in the world. Yes, in the world. Leo Messi supporters can point to his monstrous performances for Barcelona, but the facts are simple: the greatest player in the world can play with anyone in the world. The best player in the world lifts their team to victory and makes those around him better. Messi can do it on Barcelona with the entire Spanish national team (and who wouldn't be better with Xavi, Andres Iniesta, David Villa, etc.), but the truth is that the Spanish league is not the appropriate measure for greatness as there are only two really competitive teams in the league with the rest being unable to buy the talent that those two can. On the greatest stage, Messi has always been disappointing. So has Ronaldo- until now. His game against the Netherlands was clutch, but his performance against the Czech Republic, who played far better against Portugal than the Dutch could ever dream to do, was a master class in leadership and skill. If Portugal makes it all the way to the championship, he is not only the MVP of the tournament, but will also end the "best player in the world" debate. Messi, for all of his quality, has never played a single game for the Argentina National Team to match the Ronaldo's caliber in the last two matches.
Ozil is the antithesis of Ronaldo. Ronaldo makes his presence known at every possible turn. He wows with his versatility, his flash, his brilliance, his bravura. He is the archetypal superstar. Ozil is quiet, cerebral, bold, skilled, but he is not the first to show off the flair as often as Ronaldo. While Ronaldo has built his reputation as a skilled scorer, Ozil has built himself as the brains of the German operation. He won't score many flashy goals or execute the flashy pass, but he will always make the most intelligent play. He always seems to anticipate plays in advance. In this tournament he has excelled quietly, allowing his teammates the spot light as he works the magic backstage. Through the group stage, he was only rewarded with one assist despite his brilliant command of the German offense. In the game against Greece, he finally broke out for two assists on Germany's four goals. He completed 93 percent of his 117 attempted passes in that match and received man of the match honors for the second game in the tournament. If Germany is to defeat Italy (and they likely will), it will be because Ozil manages to break down their skilled defense.
Xabi Alonso was not having such a strong tournament through the group stage. He was practically invisible through three matches against Italy, Croatia, and Ireland. But against France, his play was a different matter. He scored a brace, including one goal on a penalty shot in the 90th minute, but he was constantly harassing France on the right wing with his skill and versatility. His first goal was a beautifully placed header off of a Jordi Alba cross. Without striker David Villa, Spain has depended on a numerous outlets to help them score their goals. Alonso woke up at the right time to help the Spanish side progress to the semi-finals against Portugal.