With the football feast set to continue in the London Olympics, Goal.com lines up the strongest possible XI from the Summer Games alongside our all-star Euro 2012 team.
The football tournament in the Summer Games has grown in stature as more high-profile, experienced superstars jostle for a place in their respective squads. No longer is it just another event at the Olympics, it is now almost a major football championship in itself. In the 2012 edition, household names around the globe such as Neymar, Mata, Luis Suarez, Ryan Giggs, Mohamed Aboutrika, Hulk, and Park Chu-Young will be on show as they search for gold and glory.
Despite Romario's fiery complaints about Brazil's defensive strength in their Olympic squad, the Selecao do provide three players in our best Olympic XI, three stoppers who are certainly a match for our Euro 2012 Team of the Tournament back line. Vasilis Torosidis may not be one of the more high-profile full-backs in the game, but he has the edge over a young Danilo who has yet to really make his mark, with Maicon and Dani Alves duopolising the right-back position in Brazil's senior side.
The centre-back pairings of Pepe-Gerard Pique and Micah Richards-Thiago Silva have the potential to excel in any tournament team. Pepe had a stellar league campaign with Real Madrid and imposed his authority throughout the Euros, but Pique added another international title to his collection and boosted his reputation with a flawless showing in Poland and Ukraine without his Barcelona mentor Carles Puyol. It's only fitting that he is partnered by the man considered the best centre-back in the world today, PSG's mega-money signingThiago Silva.
The left-back slot will likely be the most closely contested. With Euro 2012 revelation Jordi Alba also appearing in the London games, the berth in our strongest Olympics XI goes to Marcelo. The two are very similar players, often preferring to attack than defend, and they both regularly exhibit a penchant for scoring goals or providing assists. While Alba has risen to the top at the Euros, Marcelo, who is only one year older than his counterpart, has already won praise as the best in his position in the game.
While the Euro XI's midfield five consist of three in front of the back line and two behind the striker, the wealth of attacking talent on parade in London sees the Olympians line up with three attacking midfielders with a classic double-pivot behind them. It's hard to see past the trio of Sami Khedira, Andrea Pirlo and Daniele De Rossi in the defensive roles, especially up against new Palermo signing Arevalo Rios who has yet to play a single club game in Europe, and an inexperienced albeit improving Javi Martinez. Every team needs a perfect balance of brains and brawn at the heart of the pitch, and De Rossi's bare-knuckle approach is wonderfully complemented by the mastery of Pirlo.
In the more advanced positions, there's enough quality to light up any team in the world. Luis Suarez and David Silva are certainly no lightweights, but individually they are overshadowed by the precocious skill of Neymar, the elegance and trickery of Andres Iniesta, and the power and ferocity of Hulk.
Finally, up front the teams boast two of the most prolific sharp-shooters from the past season, with Cristiano Ronaldo leading the Euro 2012 Best XI and Edinson Cavani spearheading the Olympic team. The Uruguayan's tally of 33 goals in 47 competitive outings for club side Napoli in 2011-12 would make any striker in the world envious, but Ronaldo, although not a typical No.9, has a goalscoring proficiency that is matched only by Lionel Messi over the last two years.
It's no surprise then that with exponentially more experience and big-game performances under their belts, seven players from the European Championship team eclipsed their opposite numbers from the London games, with only four of the Olympians - all Brazilians - getting the better of the stars from Poland and Ukraine.
Below, Goal.com presents the best combined XI from the Euro 2012 and Olympic sides in a 4-2-3-1 formation.