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Euro 2016: 5 best performers from the group stage

Trevor Murray
Top 5 / Top 10
23 Jun 2016, 10:16 IST
Andres Iniesta
Andres Iniesta has again been masterful in his displays at the heart of the Spanish midfield

There has been no shortage of drama or excitement on show on or off the pitch so far this summer in France as some of the best players on the continent battle it out for a chance at ultimate glory in the European championship.

Thankfully, most of the big name players have stood out and turned in some quality performances (no, not you Cristiano Ronaldo) and we’ve been treated to some phenomenal goals already, which bodes well for the remainder of the contest. It hasn’t been so positive in terms of the behaviour of certain fans as well as question marks over security but certain performers have done their utmost to keep us concentrated on the actual football.

With the group stage of Euro 2016 at an end, it’s time to single out a handful of players for praise as we enter the last 16 of the competition.

#1 Andres Iniesta (Spain)

So what if he has never won a Ballon d’Or. Big deal. The way he manipulates a football match, it’s as if time itself stands still to admire him – who needs awards when you’re that good?

Anyone who knows their football is fully aware of just how influential a player the man nicknamed El Ilusionista (the Illusionist) is in the beautiful game, even more, how lasting his impact on the sport will be when he does eventually call a halt to his amazing career. What we have seen at this edition of the Euros has only served to reinforce that further.

Although Andres Iniesta is deserving of every award under the sun, he doesn’t rely on the accolades to embellish his charms. He said just as much in an interview with TV station Cuatro recently:

“It's not a thorn in my side. Nor do I think it is an injustice.  Both Leo [Messi] and Cristiano [Ronaldo] have been deserving of the award. Everyone has their own opinion. But being surrounded by great players and to be competing with them is significant."

He made Turkey look as if they were watching somebody play a totally different sport as he produced touch after flick after incisive pass to cause their heads to spin. It was majestic to watch and although it was simply Iniesta being Iniesta, half the magic of his delectably exquisite manoeuvres of the ball was that he was still able to mesmerise us all even though we knew he would deliver.

His brilliance has been expected, but it’s also captivated us like never before. Much like one savours the last few drops of a well preserved vintage wine, we should all drink up every last second of the world-beater’s divinity because although he looks like he can control time, he won’t be around forever.

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