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The final verdict

July 2, 2012
By ESPN staff

Mandzukic scores one of his three goals

Croatia - Ante Kvartuc (@croatiansoccer)

Best moment: Along with Mario Mandzukic's three goals during the tournament, showing he can deliver on the world stage, Croatia's best moment has to be the their final group stage game versus Spain. The little country showed they could play with the world's best, even though they did not make it out of group.

Worst moment: Both come from the Spain game. Ivan Rakitic's header in the 58 minute looked like it was going in, which surely would have put Croatia through, but Casillas got a hand to it. The non-penalty call when Busquets pulled down Corluka still haunts Croatia fans to this day.

Rating 8/10: They got out of the gate quickly with a convincing 3-1 win over Ireland and then played two fantastic games against the eventual tournament finalists, and one of the greatest football teams in history, Spain...nearly knocking them out of the tournament.


Vaclav Pilar celebrates against Russia

Czech Republic - Chris Boothroyd (@theczechup)

Best moment: The sixth minute of the game against Greece when Vaclav Pilar bundled the ball in to give the Czechs a 2-0 lead. After the demolition at the hands of Russia, the blistering start proved that this side had the ability to attack with panache and control games on the front foot.

Worst moment: Alan Dzagoev's second goal brought along a total sinking feeling. You could see the belief drain out of the players as they slipped 3-1 down. We all knew Russia could make it 4-1 very easily.

Rating 6/10: Topping Group A exceeded expectations while the capitulation against Russia was a low for a side that appeared to be positively rebuilding over the past few months. The negatives and positives balance each other out. The 6/10 is a solid foundation as the team continues to evolve.


Bendtner's goals weren't enough

Denmark - Tom Beck (@twjbeck)

Best moment: Michael Krohn-Dehli’s well-taken goal against the Netherlands in their first group game that won the match for the Danes.

Worst moment: Varela’s 87th minute winner for Portugal after Nicklas Bendtner had brought the game back to 2-2 in their second group game.

Rating 6/10: Denmark were handed a difficult group, yet surprised Netherlands and almost upset Portugal. Unfortunate not to have progressed to the next round.


Walcott worked his magic

England - Billy Blagg

Best moment: Coming from behind against Sweden with Walcott's introduction and Welbeck's excellent winner that would have us all screaming 'genius' had an Italian, Spanish or German player scored it. As Welbeck is English though...it was a lucky fluke.

Worst moment: The look on the face of Ashley Young as he came up to take his penalty in the shootout with the Italians. You can practice and boost yourself up all night long, but there comes a time to deliver and you can see in the face if you have it or not.

Rating 6/10: As ever with England, things are neither as good as some fans liked to make out nor as bad as some of the media like to suppose. The quarter-finals were about as far as England could expect to go and technical ability is still a major block to progressing further.


Sami Nasri in the eye of the storm

France - Jonathan Johnson (@Jon_LeGossip)

Best moment: The 2-0 victory over co-hosts Ukraine giving us hope that we'd finally turned the corner and that the memories of South Africa were behind us.

Worst moment: The realisation in the aftermath of the 2-0 defeat to Sweden that the team was about to unravel... Again!

Rating 5/10: Making the quarters was a positive but the nature of our exit suggests that another purge of the squad is needed despite there being some considerable talent there.


Germany cheer victory over Netherlands

Germany - Susie Schaaf (@fussballsusie)

Best moment:  Watching a laughing Mats Hummels stroll through an arguing, in-fighting Dutch side.

Worst moment: The last 80 minutes against Italy, and the desperate feeling knowing that, once again, Germany would come up short.

Rating 8/10: Another fantastic Mannschaft, another big game loss. Eventually Germany will have to stop beating themselves and win something.


Samaras scores against Germany

Greece Chris Paraskevas (@Cparaskevas)

Best moment: Georgios Samaras' equaliser against Germany. For a few minutes, we dared to dream...

Worst moment: Giorgos Karagounis being unfairly suspended for the quarter final. His reaction was heart-breaking, though in typically comic style.

Rating - 8/10: This team has its limitations but overcame those and a number of obstacles to qualify for the quarter-finals in stunning - and refreshingly positive - fashion.


St Ledger celebrates his goal

Ireland - Padraic Nugent

Best moment: For 24 glorious minutes after Sean St. Ledger equalised against Croatia we dared to dream again. Off the pitch, the many days and nights spent with Irish, Croatian, Spanish, Italian and Polish fans were just incredible and being in Poland for the group stages was a fantastic experience.

Worst moment: In Ireland's first two matches, against Croatia and Spain, we conceded a goal within five minutes at the beginning of each half of football. That is four goals to chase before the has had time to settle down.

Rating 3/10: Would have been lower had Spain and Italy not made the final. The quality of our very difficult group puts things into perspective somewhat.


Andrea Pirlo's 'panenka'

Italy - Sumeet Paul (@italiafooty)Best moment: Andrea Pirlo's audacious 'panenka' penalty which swung the momentum back in Italy's favour in the shoot-out with England.

Worst moment: The final. Drained from previous performances, Italy came up against Spain who produced their best display of the tournament. Outplayed.

Rating 8/10: Overcame struggles in the group stage to produce two great performances against England and Germany. Fell at the final hurdle, future looks good as they improve under Prandelli.


VdV's goal cheers the Dutch

Netherlands - Joost Hofman (@JoostHofman_VI)

Best moment: The first twenty minutes against Denmark.

Worst moment: The remaining 256 minutes against Denmark, Germany and Portugal.

Rating 3/10: Van der Vaart's goal was delightful though


Blaszczykowski scores against Russia

Poland - Patrick Nowak (@patricnova)

Best moment: When Poland captain Jakub Blaszczykowski struck the equaliser to hold off the Russians in Warsaw. The best game the Poles ever had in a Euro tournament.

Worst moment: Poland's abysmal second-half performance against the Czech Republic, fully knowing we were only one win away from creating history and advancing from the group stage.

Rating 4/10: We did not even achieve our minimum expectations of winning a game on home soil. Two awful second half performances against both the Greeks and Czechs also meant our demise in failing to advance from one of the easiest groups of the tournament.


Ronaldo hits form against Czechs

Portugal - Tom Kundert  (@portugoaldotnet)

Best moment: Ronaldo scoring against the Czech Republic and seeing Figo and Eusebio celebrate wildly in the stands. The three greatest ever players in Portugal's football history united in one moment of unbridled joy.  

Worst moment: Nicolas Bendtner scoring the equaliser for Denmark as Portugal threw away a two-goal lead and looked set for an early exit. Thankfully, given what followed, that moment seems a long, long time ago now. 

Rating 8/10: Exceeded expectations, played some great football in every game and gave one of the best sides in the history of international football a real run for their money.


It started so well for Russia

Russia - Michael Yokhin (@yokhin)

Best moment: The first game versus the Czech Republic, when all the plans went perfectly well, and thus the confidence became way too high.

Worst moment: Yuri Zhirkov letting a simple ball go for a Greece throw-in in the dying seconds of the first half. That throw-in led to Giorgos Karagounis' winner due to Sergei Ignashevich's childish error.

Rating  3/10: The team showed what could have been, and then refused to make it happen.


All's well that ends well

Spain - Eduardo Alvarez (@EdAlvarezSpain)

Best moment: Their unforgettable display in the tournament final. This generation of Spanish players achieved a historic record - three majors in a row - by defeating Italy in resounding style, showing their class with and without a real striker in a perfect match.

Worst moment: Cristiano Ronaldo's miss at the very last minute of the semi-finals. The Portuguese star had Spain's elimination on his left foot, but wasted his chance. It was very close.

Rating 9/10: They didn't earn the top grade because we all expected more brilliance from them throughout the tournament, which in itself is already a huge compliment.


Zlatan scores a stunning volley

Sweden - Kristopher Karlsson (@KristopherRHK)

Best moment: After the final whistle of the game against France. The team walks to the stands to salute some of the greatest fans at the tournament. Ibrahimovic leads his players to the massive Swedish wall.

Worst moment: Letting Shevchenko score his second goal of the tournament from a corner. Mikael Lustig made it possible by not fulfilling his responsibility on the goal post. By then we knew Sweden would need a miracle to qualify.

Rating 3/10: Debutante coach Erik Hamren got his team right for the last, meaningless game against France after the first two abysmal games. But boy did we outplay France. The three points were all collected in that game. It left me feeling slightly optimistic for the future.


Shevchenko signed off in style

Ukraine - Vadim Furmanov (@passive_offside)

Best moment: Without a doubt, Shevchenko's stunning brace in the opening match against Sweden, in the city where he first made his name as a world class striker. A fitting way to end an incredible career for the best Ukrainian player of the past several decades, if not of all time (although Blokhin would contest that claim).

Worst moment: The ghost goal in the match against Donetsk. Devic's strike could have been a potential momentum-swinger in the last game of the group stages, but it was not to be. The match finished 1-0, and the co-hosts went out early.

Rating 6/10: Not making it out of the group stages, especially after the opening defeat of Sweden, is a disappointment. The fantastic result over Sweden and valiant performances against both France and Sweden will be fondly remembered by Ukrainians fans, even if the team simply lacked the class to compete with the big boys.