Ben Wills takes us through the heroes and villains of the Quarter Finals of Euro 2016.
Aaron Ramsey (Wales) – Hero
The remarkable Wales story just goes on and on and on.
A 3-1 win over Belgium sent the Red Dragons through to the semi-finals and star man Aaron Ramsey was impeccable again.
Gareth Bale is billed as the world class talent in the Welsh ranks but Ramsey has been the country’s best player in France by a mile.
Ashley Williams’ header and Hal Robson-Kanu’s impressive finish were both assisted by Ramsey. The Arsenal midfielder’s suspension could be a big miss in the semi-final against Portugal.
Matteo Darmian (Italy) – Villain
The penalty shoot-out between spot-kick masters Germany and Italy was exceptional in every sense but poor Matteo Darmian ended up being the villain.
Germany prevailed on penalties, as they so often do, with a 6-5 score line, with nine shots being taken by either side.
Darmian of Manchester United missed the crucial kick from 12 yards which left Jonas Hector to win it for the Germans.
Olivier Giroud (France) – Hero
Olivier Giroud is often subject to moans from his supporters at both club and international level but he silenced the French boo boys after his showing in the 5-2 win over Iceland.
Giroud scored two goals from two shots in the last of the quarter-finals and sent Antoine Griezmann on his way for France’s fourth with a cheeky back heel.
He was substituted late in the second half to ensure he is fresh for the Germany encounter, which was good news for Iceland.
Jakub Blaszczykowski (Poland) – Villain
Like the Italians, Poland crashed out the Euros via the most cruel method: a penalty shoot-out. Unlike Darmian, Jakub ‘Kuba’ Blaszczykowski was the only one to miss.
Blaszczykowski scored from open play and netted his penalty
when Poland knocked out Switzerland in the previous round but Portugal’s keeper succeeded in keeping him out where Lukasz Fabianski had failed.
It meant that Portugal had qualified for the semi-finals despite failing to win a match in 90 minutes at these Championships.
Alessandro Florenzi (Italy) – Hero
Italy’s Euros adventure did come to an end on Saturday, however they did everything to keep it alive. None more so than Alessando Florenzi.
The Roma man produced the big talking point of the match with a ridiculous clearance where he flung his leg backwards to hack the ball off the line.
In fairness, it was going wide anyway but Florenzi, nor any of us watching at home, knew that until the replay and at the time it looked fantastic.
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