Euro 2016 promises to be a superb tournament of football this summer, with the continent’s best teams and players all scrapping it out for the trophy.However, before you get too excited about the players who *will* be there, we’ve put together a best XI of those left behind by competing nations.
No, this is not a line up full of players who won’t be on show due to their countries not qualifying (otherwise this article would pretty much just be the Dutch national team), but those dealt cruel snubs or injury blows late on, thus missing out on a place in the now-finalised squads.
Is it an exaggeration to say this side would probably stand a decent chance of going all the way in France? Decide for yourselves…
Still a top goalkeeper, Pepe Reina has been linked with a surprise return to Liverpool, but he hasn’t snuck into Spain’s squad for the Euros. In fairness, he’s got a lot of high class competition.
Ahead of him in defence, there’s more heartbreak for Liverpool fans as they won’t be seeing their heroes Dejan Lovren or Mamadou Sakho in action this summer, with the pair snubbed for Croatia and France, respectively.
Finally, Bayern Munich dynamo Javi Martinez is one of a number of big-name absentees for holders Spain, who have been, frankly, spoiled for choice ahead of this tournament.
A defensive midfield pairing Arsenal fans would dearly love to see next season, Santi Cazorla is partnered by long-time Gunners transfer target Ilkay Gundogan.
The Spaniard is another unlucky victim of Vicente Del Bosque’s ahead of the Euros, with injury ruling him out for so much of the season just gone.
Gundogan, meanwhile, is another injured star who will miss yet another tournament with Germany, having also failed to make it to their victorious World Cup-winning campaign in Brazil two years ago.
Ahead of them is an attacking midfield trio that would make many opposition defences weep – but injury has ruled out Marco Reus late on, meaning, like Gundogan, he’ll miss consecutive international tournaments for Germany.
Juan Mata is another harshly left out for Spain, little more than a week after scoring in the FA Cup final for Manchester United, while Hatem Ben Arfa was also inexplicably omitted from the France squad despite playing perhaps the season of his life for Nice.
Finally, the world class absentees continue to the final two attacking players, with Real Madrid and Chelsea’s first-choice strikers deemed surplus to requirements for their countries.
Karim Benzema’s France snub perhaps shouldn’t be too much of a surprise after off-the-field matters, though there’s no escaping that Didier Deschamps’ side will miss the quality of a player with 28 goals in all competitions for Real last season.
Diego Costa, meanwhile, has never really done it on the international stage, but seems another harsh omission by Spain, even if he may only have had a super-sub role to play for La Roja.
Will some of these decisions come back to haunt managers by the end of the summer?
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