Lewis Marshall meets the England football team
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With the first round of Euro 2008 group games done and dusted, we have inspected your Player Ratings to hail who's hot and shame who's not in Austria and Switzerland.
Unsurprisingly, the swashbuckling performance of Holland features highly, while skysports.com editor Chris Harvey is already rubbing his hands as he makes plans for his winnings after landing a David Villa-inspired Spain in the office sweepstake.
As work-based allegations of a rigged draw rage, Villa is currently the star of the show and the Spanish striker's hat-trick helped his side rout Russia on Tuesday to top trump proceedings with a maximum score of 10 from awestruck reporter Steve Pass, while your rating of 9.5 suggests great minds think alike.
Villa the thriller is closely followed by Dutch schemer Wesley Sneijder, who orchestrated Holland's demolition job on world champions Italy to earn a nine from our journalist and a deserved 8.9 rating in your opinion.
Sneijder's compatriot and counter-attacker-in-chief Giovanni van Bronckhorst has also proved a hit as your almost identical 8.8 matches Ben Linfoot's nine, while you join us in demonstrating an appreciation of work-rate alongside style as fellow Dutchman Dirk Kuyt collects an average score of 8.2.
The goalkeeper to beat at this early stage is Edwin van der Sar. Highly held in the estimation of our scribe, the Holland shot-stopper is also rewarded for his stunning save from a curling Andrea Pirlo free-kick, which set up his side's third against the Azzurri, with an 8.2 to equal Kuyt.
Villa would appear the tournament's lone gunman, but his 8.5-rated pal Fernando Torres seems more than capable of occupying Spain's grassy knoll, while we agree and show our kind-hearted nature by offering the Liverpool frontman a near perfect nine along with an eight for Catalan defender Carles Puyol.
Sweden were perhaps not always singing from the same hymn sheet against a grizzly Greek outfit, more of which later, but we concur that the dynamic strike duo of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Henrik Larsson would hit the right note as Benny and Bjorn in any Abba tribute act as the pair collect an admirable average of 8.5 and 8.1, respectively.
Rampaging Portuguese defender Kepler Pepe is honoured for his excellent give-and-go goal against Turkey with a far from shabby 8.2, while we were sufficiently impressed to offer a nine and his team-mate and new Chelsea signing Jose Bosingwa also scored well in our view.
And last but not least in your top 10 is Spain midfielder Cesc Fabregas, whose 36-minute substitute appearance against Russia earns him a respectable all-round eight and forces this writer into an embarrassing about turn.
Perhaps a controversial side note, but I do not feel Fabregas is all he is cracked up to be and when Luis Aragones snubbed the Emirates ace the, 'I told you so' bragging rights were stacked at the expense of my Arsenal-following colleague James Dall, but, alas, a late goal forces me to keep my head down.
However, one thing we all agree on is Greece's place in a rogues' gallery of rotten performances as only one player, Sotirios Kyrgiakos, from the defeat to the Sweden scored above a five. Reporter Chris Burton was a tad more generous, but it is safe to say we have all been checking our diaries to see who is covering the reigning champions' outing against Russia on Saturday.
Czech Republic striker Jan Koller and Emre, who flopped in a Turkey side with a seeming penchant for Am dram, also deserve dishonourable mention as the pair prop up the overall pile with feeble fours.
To also show we are not too proud to admit when we are a little wide of the mark, we should perhaps re-think our analysis of Russia defender Denis Kolodin. The stopper secured an charitable seven from a liberal-minded ranker, but, in a backline which leaked four goals the latter would appear the more accurate.
In conclusion, continental flair appears to be the order of the day. But will this continue throughout the tournament? Will holders Greece repeatedly fail to inspire? Will unsporting behaviour earn further low scores and has anyone been cruelly overlooked?
You can rate players' performances after every match at Euro 2008 and it will be possible to interact with our match coverage throughout the tournament. We will also continue to observe the Hot or Not ratings after every round of games.
CESC FABREGAS - not all he is cracked up to be! - you have got to be kidding. I agree... only near enough 30 assists this year, about 13 goals, a ridiculous number of accurate passes, 21 years old, 5ft 11 and controlling centre midfield - sure... hes definitely not that great. All those footballers who voted for him for Young Player of the Year - they are wrong aswell. Just so you know... I am being sarcastic - Fabregas is fantastic! You must be jealous.
Posted 21:29 17th June 2008
For the first round of games, where is Podolski? Zlatan did nothing until he scored. Podolski never stopped running.
Posted 19:39 12th June 2008
with fabregas saying he would love villa to come to arsenal i wouldn't be surprised if he chose arsenal over any other team
Posted 13:25 12th June 2008
No complaints here what-so-ever, but just one miniscule point of contention, i'm cuirous to know how Torres would make this elite list ahead of Podolski? What does the man have to do to gain recognition? (clears throat), Hmm Liverpool fans vote much?
Posted 16:46 11th June 2008
How can there be no german players in the team I thought atleast Torsten Frings who was excellent would have made it in the team or Lucas Podolski.
Posted 16:17 11th June 2008
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