Euro 2016 kicks off in anger at the Stade de France on June 10th, but some of Europe’s top players will have to watch it at home on their televisions.
There can, of course, only be room for 552 players – and for whatever reason (injuries, suspensions, arguments with the manager etc.) some will miss out.
There are more players outside of this list, of course, but here is an XI made up of players who won’t be gracing the European Championships with their presence later this summer.
Jack Butland (England)
The 23 year old Stoke goalkeeper was beginning to make waves both in the Premier League and internationally, to the point where Joe Hart’s long term future as England’s undisputed number one was looking in danger. Injury has ruled him out of Euro 2016, but it would not be a surprise to see him as England’s first choice by the time the World Cup rolls around in two years.
Right Back: Dani Carvajal (Spain)
A muscle injury picked up in the Champions League final last week has ruled the Real Madrid right back out of contention for Euro 2016. Having been omitted from the Spain squad for the World Cup in 2014, Carvajal looked to have finally become a part of Vicente del Bosque’s plans, but will instead have to look on as Juanfran and Héctor Bellerín fill that role.
Centre Back: Raphaël Varane
The 23 year old Real Madrid centre back has forged a reputation as one of the brightest young defenders in Europe, and shone in the World Cup in 2014. Was guaranteed to be partnering Laurent Koscielny at the heart of the French defence, but injury means he will instead have to take some solace from the fact that he will be a key component of this France team for years to come.
Centre Back: Vincent Kompany (Belgium)
The Manchester City and Belgium captain has been a rock at the heart of both defences for a number of years, but an injury-hit season in which he only made thirteen appearances has led to doubts about his fitness going forward. As it is, Kompany will miss the tournament with a thigh injury, and while he is a massive loss for both club and country, both may be starting to work on long term contingency plans.
Left Back: Layvin Kurzawa (France)
Signed by PSG for €23m last summer, Kurzawa was warned by France manager Didier Deschamps that not playing regularly could impact his chances of going to Euro 2016. In the end, that is exactly what happened – thirteen appearances for the champions were not enough to make the squad. Still one for the future, but should have been one for the present.
Centre Midfield: Andrea Pirlo
Antonio Conte’s reasons for not picking Pirlo or Sebastian Giovinco speak volumes about the level he considers the MLS to be at, but given the fact that Italy are facing something of an injury crisis in central midfield, Pirlo’s exclusion is mystifying. Though the former Juventus player is now 37, age should not really come into it – he was never the most sprightly player to begin with.
Centre Midfield: Marco Verratti (Italy)
The heir apparent to Pirlo’s role in the Italy setup, this was set to be Verratti’s time to shine on the international stage. The 23 year old has failed to recover from a sports hernia in time, and through the loss of both the PSG midfielder Claudio Marchisio, the Italian midfield suddenly looks a lot more vulnerable.
Left Wing: Marco Reus (Germany)
Having missed Germany’s World Cup success of 2014, Marco Reus would have been hoping to play a big role in Germany’s Euro 2016 campaign. Unfortunately, his fitness has once again become an issue, and as such he has been left out of Jogi Löw’s 23 man squad due to “serious health problems.” Though he remains a fantastic player, these injuries are preventing him from making an impact at the highest international stage.
Right Wing: Arjen Robben (Netherlands)
Robben is not missing out to injury or omission from the squad, rather it is his his nation’s failure to qualify for the tournament which means he will be staying at home. Though the 32 year old Bayern winger has not featured for his club since March and is patently not fit, his importance to the national team means that he almost certainly would have been named in Danny Blind’s 23 man squad.
Striker: Diego Costa (Spain)
The Chelsea striker had been warned by Vicente del Bosque that his attitude and disciplinary problems would cause issues when it came to national team selection, so it was no surprise to see that Diego Costa had been left out of the Spain squad. Still a very talented striker, however it has never really seemed to click with the 27 year old at international level.
Striker: Karim Benezma (France)
Benezma’s exclusion from the French setup has caused all manner of problems for Didier Deschamps. Initially dropped by Deschamps in relation to charges of conspiracy to commit blackmail against international teammate Mathieu Valbuena, it had been confirmed in advance of the squad announcement that Benzema would not be considered.
However, both the player and Eric Cantona have alleged that Benzema’s exclusion is down to “bowing to pressure from racists”, while Benzema’s replacement in the starting eleven, Arsenal’s Olivier Giroud, has been roundly booed by French supporters calling for their main striker’s reinstatement.