Payet (France + West Ham)
Caption: Unstoppable. Payet continued his phenomenal form into the international arena.
It seems there is no end to this guy’s talent. We’ve become accustomed to his free kicks, but this week at the opening night of the Euros against Romania he pulled out a screamer from the edge of the box into the top left corner of the goal, bagging his country the first 3 points of the tournament. Aside from his wonder goal, Payet played well throughout the game and looked a constant threat to the Romanian back line.
His wonderful season with the Hammers flung him into the Euro spotlight, alongside the premier league’s Kante, and you would forgive the younger Frenchman for letting the nerves and weight of expectation get to him. No chance. Even standing shoulder to shoulder with one of the world’s superstars, Paul Pogba, didn’t shake him from his game plan. Les Bleus now display a midfield that any manager would be jealous of, where all play to their strengths.
He also showed something that we at FCaptialSport really missed recently – passion. His tears when leaving the field show how deep the sentiment runs throughout the French team.
Dier (England + Tottenham)
Caption: Allez les Spurs. Tottenham are well represented in the Three Lions, and Eric Dier has been at the heart of it all.
Dier can take free kicks? Since when?! We don’t care, it was a great surprise and ultimately should have secured three points for the three lions against Russia. We’ve watched him all year at Tottenham, and we know how strong he is at holding up play, protecting the back four and delivering the odd killer pass. However we’ve never seen him stand over the ball for a set piece, but having the confidence to push away free kick takers like Rooney and sinking a goal gets our respect.
For us, Dier offers something different. Yes, lots of midfielders at the Euros are good, but they all show a similar kind of good – fast, skilful, and so forth. But Dier not only has these qualities but also plays a clever football game, we expect great things from him for the rest of the difficult campaign England are left with after Russia’s late heart-breaking equaliser.
Ben Davies (Wales + Tottenham)
Caption: Men of Harlech. Ben Davies showing Martin Skrtel that you don’t need to elbow people in the face to be a good defender.
Wales are constantly touted as a one man team. Former Tottenham man and now superstar galactico Gareth Bale is, and rightly so, the main attraction for Welsh fans, but it is the team spirit shown that really impresses us. This was epitomised by Ben Davies, a rotation player for Tottenham, pulling out a goal line clearance to defy Slovakia. Brilliant stuff.
His defensive partner, the Premier League’s Ashley Williams, also displayed great talent and resolve in blocking out Slovakian strikers, such as Hamsik, who struggled against a united team. This is something that England will need to watch out for, Wales are no longer Gareth Bale and ten others, they are strong and well organised, much more so than the Russians, and will offer a real headache for every single man in an England shirt. Whilst the Three Lions defence obviously need to be aware of Bale, and the attackers need to try to find a way around the Welsh back line. It’s a difficult test, and although the bookies are offering England as the clear favourites, I wouldn’t be so sure that Wales will be anything other than an uphill battle.
By James Doherty.