The biggest names from Europe will travel to France in a few days to fight for continental supremacy. However, quite a few familiar faces will not feature either due to injury, being left out or not making the cut. HT takes a look:
Karim Benzema got himself embroiled in an alleged blackmail attempt against France teammate Mathieu Valbuena, over a sex tape of the midfielder and his partner. The controversy was enough for national manager Didier Deschamps to omit Benzema from the squad, a decision which in turn raised more controversy with Benzema and former French footballer Eric Cantona both claiming that the striker, along with Hatem Ben Arfa, was left out on racial grounds.
Franck Ribery will be another high-profile player who will not turn out for the hosts. The Bayern Munich forward has already retired from international football but the lure of playing in a tournament as big as the Euros, that too at home, made him hint recently that he would be willing to come back.
However, he has found no favour with Deschamps. What went against him was the fact that his troubles with injuries limited him to just 13 Bundesliga games last season.
Belgium may be the top-ranked European team in the tournament but will miss the services of Vincent Kompany, who has been ruled out of the tournament with a thigh injury. Manchester City’s big man has had injury worries all season and a recent calf problem has ruled him out. Belgium manager Marc Wilmots is also missing defenders Nicolas Lombaerts and Dedryck Boyata.
Wilmots will have the tall task of finding not just a captain to replace the 30-year-old, but also a player who can fill the Kompany-sized hole at the heart of the Belgian defence. The central defender suffered five injuries last season, making only 22 appearances for Manchester City out of a possible 58.
Winger Marco Reus was left out of Germany’s final Euro 2016 squad on his 27th birthday on Tuesday over injury concerns, missing out on his second consecutive major tournament.
Borussia Dortmund’s Reus, who was ruled out of the 2014 World Cup after sustaining an injury in the final warmup game, would struggle to get through a one-month tournament due to long-standing fitness problems.
Although he has struggled with injuries recently, Reus still played 43 games for Borussia Dortmund this season and netted 23 goals.
Spain’s embarrassment of riches in the attacking midfield department means that some top quality players will have to miss out and, this time around, it’s Mata who has paid the price. The 28-year-old has had an up-and-down season in a very up-and-down Manchester United side and now looks to face a summer of uncertainty with reports suggesting that Jose Mourinho is set to ship the former Chelsea man out of Manchester.
The exclusion of Torres, behind such inexperience as Nolito, Vazquez and Alvaro Morata is quite surprising. Especially given the fact that the former Liverpool striker has seen a resurgence in his career since moving back to Atletico Madrid, where he helped Diego Simeone’s side to the Champions League final, their second in the past three years.
Del Bosque is obviously very wary of the “past it” tag that was laid on Spain at the last World Cup, opting for the inexperience of youth ahead of 30-somethings such as Torres and Arsenal’s Santi Cazorla.
Mario Balotelli’s omission from the Italy squad is hardly surprising given that the striker has scored just one goal in 20 Serie A appearances for AC Milan, where he was on loan from Liverpool, last season.
Balotelli was one of the stars of Euro 2012, inspiring Italy to the final. He scored two goals against Germany in the 2012 semifinal. Italy defender Leonardo Bonucci has even gone on to say that Balotelli lost out because he is essentially a prima donna and not a team player.
The two-footed Gunners magician has been fighting back hard from injury but has been unable to prove that he deserves a chance in what, one would have to say, is quite a competitive midfield.
Del Bosque has decided to opt for David Silva and Cesc Fabregas in the playmaker position instead.
Italy midfielder Marco Verratti will miss Euro 2016 after undergoing surgery for a groin injury. Verratti’s appearances for Paris Saint-Germain have been severely restricted since suffering the injury in February.
Italy coach Antonio Conte said 23-year-old Verratti would be greatly missed. “He’s the best young player in the national team and a player with great international (European) experience with Paris St Germain.”
Another Dortmund player to miss out on the German squad through injury, the 25-year-old Gundogan suffered the injury in training for Dortmund last month and looks set for a lengthy spell on the sidelines. Thankfully for Loew, Bastian Schweinsteiger has been passed fit to play in France, meaning he can partner Toni Kroos in midfield.
Coach Antonio Conte’s decision to leave out veteran midfield maestro Andrea Pirlo has raised a few eyebrows. What went against the 37-year-old, who has made 116 international appearances, was that he plays in USA’s Major League Soccer (MLS).
Pirlo has featured in every major tournament for Italy since Euro 2004 and his experience will surely be missed in the dressing room and on the pitch.
Pirlo, who plays for New York City FC, has netted four goals this season in 12 matches.
Notable mention: The Netherlands
The Netherlands will be the most high-profile team to be missing from the Euro 2016 after a disastrous qualifying campaign. In fact, so woeful was their qualifying campaign that the Dutch could not even make it to the play-offs after managing just four wins from 10 qualifiers.
All of those victories came against minnows like Kazakhstan and Latvia while they were stunned by Iceland twice, Czech Republic twice and Turkey once. While the Dutch tried to turn things around in the middle of the campaign by sacking manager Guus Hiddink, his replacement Danny Blind too could not effect a turnaround, meaning players like Robin van Persie, Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder will probably catch the tournament on TV at home.
Their failure is all the more embarrassing considering the tournament has been extended from 16 to 24 teams this time around.
(With agency inputs)