Five great EURO midfield performances

Two decades on from Zinédine Zidane’s superlative performance in a battle of midfield giants at UEFA EURO 2000, picks out five memorable midfield masterclasses at past final tournaments.

Check out our selections below.

Zinédine Zidane (France 2-1 Portugal, 2000)

France fans celebrate Zidane's extra-terrestrial skills

France fans celebrate Zidane’s extra-terrestrial skillsIcon Sport via Getty Images

This semi-final in Brussels was a showcase for two of the greatest midfielders of the age; Portugal’s Luís Figo may have shaded the first half, but Juventus man Zidane’s sparkling control and casual brilliance passing the ball had turned the tide in his favour even before he converted the golden-goal penalty that sent Les Bleus to the final. Team-mate Patrick Vieira was inspired by ‘Zizou’: “If you play alongside him, you just want to perform like him. He lifts you so much.”

Andrés Iniesta (Russia 0-3 Spain, 2008)

Spain had beaten Russia 4-1 in the group stage, but if Guus Hiddink’s side had expected to make more of a game of it in the Vienna semi-final, they were wrong. Iniesta led the charge for Luis Aragonés’s ‘little guys’ in the first of his record six EURO man of the match performances. His cross set up Xavi Hernández’s opener and he had a hand in the third for David Silva in a 3-0 success. “We wanted it so much and this is the reward for everybody,” he said afterwards.

Theodoros Zagorakis (Greece 1-0 Portugal, 2004)

EURO 2004 final highlights: Greece 1-0 Portugal

EURO 2004 final highlights: Greece 1-0 Portugal

In the greatest upset in EURO history, Zagorakis was Greece’s organiser-in-chief, his Man of the Match display against Portugal in the 2004 final an object lesson in how to follow a tactical plan – and how passion can move mountains. “The most important thing is that we didn’t panic,” he told about his side’s battle to hold on to a 1-0 lead in Lisbon. “Instead of getting tired, we started covering more ground and it became evident that we wanted the cup more.”

Pavel Nedvĕd (Netherlands 2-3 Czech Republic, 2004)

If the Czechs were 2-0 down inside 20 minutes of kick-off in their second group game in Aveiro, it simply became an opportunity for them to showcase what their European Footballer of the Year Nedvĕd could do; the skills were immense, the deliveries awesome, and it was all too much for his marker, John Heitinga, who was dismissed following a foul on the man of the match. “It was a fantastic game,” acknowledged Nedvĕd. “We were asleep to start with but after we awoke we showed great energy.”

Kim Vilfort (Netherlands 2-2 Denmark, 1992)

EURO '92 final highlights: Denmark 2-0 Germany

EURO ’92 final highlights: Denmark 2-0 Germany

Team-mate Henrik Larsen scored the goals that earned rank outsiders Denmark a 2-2 draw with holders the Netherlands in the Gothenburg semi-final, but attacking midfielder Vilfort was the unsung hero, providing an outlet for his beleaguered defence and showing boundless energy as his side battled through to win on penalties. “One of…

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