Euro 2016 showcased a comparatively poor level of football, both in terms of collective and individual performances compared to past tournaments. Yet Real Madrid star Gareth Bale and Atletico Madrid's Antoine Griezmann have taken advantage of it to take a step further towards the level of Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi to make it into the best XI of the tournament.
IBTimes UK picks up nine other players to accompany the two La Liga stars in a 3-5-2 system that has been one of the keynotes of the tournament thanks to Antonio Conte's Italy or the Wales of Chris Coleman.
Rui Patricio (Portugal)
Manuel Neuer, Hugo Lloris and Gianluigi Buffon have probably been better than the 28-year-old Rui Patricio through the tournament. Yet his excellent performance in the final to secure a clean-sheet despite several good efforts from Griezmann, Olivier Giroud and Moussa Sissoko earned him a place in the XI. The Sporting Lisbon goalkeeper came to the tournament under some scrutiny but is now a hero in his homeland as it is fair to say that, without his saves, Portugal would not have become champions.
Joshua Kimmich (Germany)
The versatile Bayern Munich youngster started the tournament on the bench behind Benedikt Howedes. But Joachim Low gave him a chance in the third game against Northern Ireland and the 21-year-old took it with both hands and turned into the best right-back of the tournament. He can play as a centre-back and in the middle of the pitch but on the right-flank of the German back-line he excelled as both a secure defender and also contributing in the attack. In addition, the German starlet scored a key goal in the shootout of the quarter-final against Italy.
Pepe was the worthy Man of the Match of the final. The 33-year-old centre-back took the gallons of Cristiano Ronaldo after his Real Madrid teammate came off due to injury and became the real leader of Portugal. He is no longer the bad boy of his early days at the Bernabeu but a mature and strong defender who has been decisive – more than Ronaldo even - for both his country and Real Madrid to win the Champions League and the European Championship in less than two months. He missed the semi-final through injury but against Croatia and Poland he was also superb.
Ashley Williams (Wales)
Wales has been outstanding throughout the tournament from the goalkeeper to the attacking line. Yet the captain towered above all his teammates to keep his country's fairy tale alive until the semi-final. The Swansea defender has represented the team spirit and the winning mentality of Coleman's side.
Leonardo Bonucci (Italy)
Chelsea new manager Antonio Conte is reportedly battling to reunite with his compatriot at Stamford Bridge in a deal worth up to £57 million and nobody could question why. The Italian centre-half has simply been the best of an impressive back-line of three defenders, with two other stand-out players like Giorgio Chiellini and Andrea Barzagli. His only sin was missing a penalty against Germany in the penalty shootout of the quarter-final but it is worth remembering that it was his goal in the 90 minutes of the match that equalised to earn Italy a draw in the first place. Furthermore, his Franz Beckenbauer-esque long-range assist to Emanuele Giaccherini in the opening victory over Belgium offered solid proof of his top class.
Raphaël Guerreiro (Portugal)
One of the great discoveries of the tournament. Borussia Dortmund have a clinical eye in identifying talent and Raphaël Guerreiro's signing earlier in the tournament seems today like another of their successes. The versatile star defends well but is an even better threat in attack, as he proved when he set up Ronaldo's exceptional header in the semi-final against Wales. At 22-years-old, he has what it takes to become one of the best left-backs of the next decade.
Toni Kroos (Germany)
Germany have probably been the team that played the best football during the European Championships and Real Madrid star Toni Kroos could be considered its best asset. Without the shadow of Luka Modric, the former Bayern Munich midfielder has dictated the game of his country from the middle of the park but also proved a treat with his additions to the attack. Indeed, he scored a superb goal against Ukraine in the opening game.
Renato Sanches (Portugal)
The 18-year-old midfielder arrived in France as a promise and only a month later looks a reality. Renato Sanches began the tournament as a substitute but following some super-sub performances, he sent the likes of Joao Moutinho or Andre Gomes to the bench. We all hoped that this was going to be the Euro 2016 of Paul Pogba but the new Bayern Munich signing eventually seemed stronger and even more talented than the coveted French star. His goal against Poland was also real class.
Gareth Bale (Wales)
No one doubted his talent after an exceptional season at the Bernabeu but Bale has shown in this Euro that he has the charisma to be the leader of his country − and consequently of Real Madrid once Ronaldo decides to give him the baton. The former Tottenham star scored three goals in the group stage, provided an assist against Northern Ireland and carried the team on his back to take them to the semi-final. Griezmann is the only player who can argue with him for claiming the best player of the tournament award.
Antoine Griezmann (France)
The Atletico Madrid forward started the tournament under much scrutiny after a disappointing opener against Romania. Yet Antoine Griezmann scored a goal against Albania coming from the bench in the second game and never looked back. He left Pogba and Dimitri Payet in the shade and scored five more goals to lead France to the final. The 25-year-old looks in line to discuss the domain of Messi and Ronaldo in the short-term as the best player on the planet alongside the ranks of Neymar or Bale himself.
Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal)
The Real Madrid star has been far below his potential throughout the tournament and many can even argue that his influence in the game of Portugal − as has already begun to happen at Real Madrid – is non-existent. Yet Cristiano Ronaldo is still the most decisive player in the modern game and the best header around. It is true that he only scored in two of the seven games but, as usual, the candidate to the Ballon D'or award chose two key days to do it: against Hungary to rescue his country from an early elimination and against Wales to push them into the final.