They have the class to conquer

They have the class to conquer

Any sporting event worth its salt will finally be remembered for the players rather than for the politics, the economics, or even the setting. Here is a look at a few of the gifted stars among in the Euro 2012 field.

 - Andres Iniesta (Spain, Barcelona)

Even if Iniesta never laced on soccer shoes again, he would forever remain a Spanish hero for the goal that he scored in extra time to win the 2010 World Cup final against the Netherlands.

It was a precious goal, a poacher’s goal from a bantamweight performer who could be compared to a ballet dancer. He has that nimbleness of foot, balance and alertness, and a selfless attitude to serve others. No more need be said except that Spain adores him and he seems almost too humble to notice.

 - Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal, Real Madrid)

Bigger than most players in so many ways -- in body, in ego, in the desire and courage to be the main man. Ronaldo now has a platform to entertain, with the instinct of a peacock displaying his fine feathers, without his Spanish Liga rival, Lionel Messi of Argentina, in sight.

Ronaldo can do it all, and does so almost every time he wears the white shirt of Real Madrid. But even with a coach like Paulo Bento, who appreciates Ronaldo and gives him license to be himself, his national team performance is as yet his unfulfilled side. However, Ronaldo promises that the team will run until they drop.

- Mesut Ozil (Germany, Real Madrid)

Born in Gelsenkirchen to Turkish immigrant parents, Ozil is a symbol of Germany’s multiethnic blending. He shone during the 2010 World Cup -- down the left wing or drifting into the playmaking No 10 role, his deceptively slender frame could take the strain. His fast feet and even faster, intuitive soccer brain could beat a man or set up a striker with a threaded pass.

- Luka Modric (Croatia, Tottenham Hotspur)

Another man small in stature but bristling with the power to make others run, be the opponents trying to catch him or team-mates moving for his passes. A playmaker at the heart of the action, possibly another performer who should score more often than he does, Modric is essentially a team player.

- Robert Lewandowski (Poland, Borussia Dortmund)

Maybe not as naturally talented as the others mentioned, but, after the season he has just had for his club, Lewandowski might well be the native son about to explode for his country. You get the impression that he, like many of the emerging Dortmund players, is just growing into his potential and surprising himself in the process.

- Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (England, Arsenal)

Oxlade-Chamberlain is built like a young ox and seems unburdened by any fear of being thrown into a man’s job in his teens. It’s not clear yet what his best role will be. He could be a winger, and could provide a vital missing spark, a touch of uninhibited inspiration so lacking in the senior members of the England squad.

- Christian Eriksen (Denmark, Ajax Amsterdam )

He was scouted by Europe’s biggest clubs and then chose Ajax for a soccer education. No recommendation can eclipse what the great Dutchman Johan Cruyff said of Eriksen last year: “He’s a player I really like. The talent is there, and you can compare him to a young Brian or Michael Laudrup.”
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