Euro 2016 took a giant step closer on Tuesday when each of the 24 nations confirmed their final 23-man squads for the tournament. It is now just 10 days before the tournament, expanded from 16 teams for the first time, gets underway in France. And the four favorites to take home the trophy on July 10 – France, Germany, Spain and England – each have significant omissions from the squad lists submitted to UEFA
France (odds to win tournament: 3/1)
Didier Deschamps had already named his provisional 23-man squad, with only the final confirmation arriving on Tuesday. Yet there are still plenty of talking points. The big one, of course, was Karim Benzema’s exclusion following the scandal involving his alleged blackmail of former France colleague Mathieu Valbuena, who also missed out. Despite no place for Benzema, Deschamps still could find no place for Kevin Gameiro, who fired 28 goals for Sevilla over the past season.
France’s options at the back are less impressive and have been depleted by an injury to Raphael Varane and a failed drugs test hanging over Mamadou Sakho. A last-gasp 3-2 friendly win over Cameroon on Monday highlighted the defensive deficiencies. Yet with the quality further forward, it may not matter. The midfield can boast Juventus star Paul Pogba, Paris Saint-Germain’s Blaise Matuidi and one of the keys to Leicester City’s Premier League title N’Golo Kane. In attack, Atletico Madrid’s Antoine Griezmann will lead the way for the talented hosts.
Goalkeepers: Benoit Costil (Rennes), Hugo Lloris (Tottenham), Steve Mandanda (Marseille)
Defenders: Lucas Digne (Roma), Patrice Evra (Juventus), Christophe Jallet (Lyon), Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal), Eliaquim Mangala (Manchester City), Jeremy Mathieu (Barcelona), Bacary Sagna (Manchester City), Raphael Varane (Real Madrid)
Midfielders: Yohan Cabaye (Crystal Palace), N'Golo Kante (Leicester), Blaise Matuidi (Paris Saint-Germain), Paul Pogba (Juventus), Morgan Schneiderlin (Manchester United), Moussa Sissoko (Newcastle)
Forwards: Kingsley Coman (Bayern Munich), Andre-Pierre Gignac (Tigres), Olivier Giroud (Arsenal), Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid), Anthony Martial (Manchester United), Dimitri Payet (West Ham)
Just as before the 2014 World Cup, injuries mean Germany will have to leave plenty of talent at home. Ilkay Gundogan had already been ruled out with a knee injury when on Tuesday it was announced that his Borussia Dortmund teammate Marco Reus would also miss the tournament, according to coach Joachim Löw, due to fitness concerns. Germany coped sufficiently well without the pair to land the World Cup two years ago, but the loss of two such talented players is still a significant blow.
The absence of Gundogan will be particularly felt with captain Bastian Schweinsteiger having missed the end of the season with Manchester United. Still Löw has stuck by the 31-year-old, despite his declining physical abilities, as he has with a fellow veteran who has seen better days, Lukas Podolski. There is also a younger crop of players that will make the trip to France, including Dortmund’s gifted deep-lying midfielder Julian Weigl and Schalke forward Leroy Sane. An absence of full-backs remains a concern, however, highlighted by Liverpool midfielder Emre Can being listed as a defender.
Goalkeepers: Bernd Leno (Bayer Leverkusen), Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich), Marc-Andre ter Stegen (Barcelona)
Defenders: Jerome Boateng (Bayern Munich), Emre Can (Liverpool), Jonas Hector (Cologne), Benedikt Hoewedes (Schalke 04), Mats Hummels (Borussia Dortmund), Shkodran Mustafi (Valencia), Antonio Ruediger (Roma)
Midfielders: Julian Draxler (VfL Wolfsburg), Sami Khedira (Juventus), Joshua Kimmich (Bayern Munich), Toni Kroos (Real Madrid), Thomas Mueller (Bayern Munich), Mesut Ozil (Arsenal), Lukas Podolski (Galatasaray), Andre Schuerrle (VfL Wolfsburg), Bastian Schweinsteiger (Manchester United), Julian Weigl (Borussia Dortmund)
Forwards: Mario Gomez (Besiktas), Mario Goetze (Bayern Munich), Leroy Sane (Schalke 04)
After the humbling manner in which they relinquished their World Cup crown in Brazil, much of the gloss has been shorn from a country that dominated international soccer for four years. Since then some of the key figures of the side that won back-to-back European Championships in 2008 and 2012 and a World Cup in between have retired. Yet coach Vicente del Bosque has determined that enough talent remains at his disposal to surprisingly cut Real Madrid’s Isco and Atletico Madrid’s Saul Niguez from his squad on Tuesday.
Instead, Del Bosque has opted for the less flashy talents of Pedro and Lucas Vazquez. While those choices will cause plenty of discussion, a squad with sizable ability remains. Gerard Pique, Sergio Ramos, Sergio Busquets and Andres Iniesta are among those included from the all-conquering Spanish sides of the recent past. And they are now joined by the likes of Koke and Thiago Alcantara who appear ripe to stamp their mark on an international tournament. The big question mark is up front, where, between them, Alvaro Morata, Aritz Aduriz and Nolito have just four international goals.
Goalkeepers: Iker Casillas (Porto), David De Gea (Manchester United), Sergio Rico (Sevilla)
Defenders: Jordi Alba (Barcelona), Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea), Marc Bartra (Barcelona), Hector Bellerin (Arsenal), Juanfran (Atletico Madrid), Gerard Pique (Barcelona), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Mikel San Jose (Athletic Bilbao)
Midfielders: Bruno (Villarreal), Sergio Busquets (Barcelona), Cesc Fabregas (Chelsea), Koke (Atletico Madrid), Andres Iniesta (Barcelona), David Silva (Man City), Pedro (Chelsea), Thiago (Bayern Munich)
Forwards: Aritz Aduriz (Athletic Bilbao), Alvaro Morata (Juventus), Nolito (Celta Vigo), Lucas Vasquez (Real Madrid)
Every England squad announcement is accompanied by lengthy heated debates over the merits of one player or another, and to an extent this time was no different. For Euro 2016, the exclusion of Danny Drinkwater, so pivotal in Leicester City’s shock success, provoked the most heated commentary. Given Jack Wilshere has been included despite playing just 141 minutes for Arsenal last season because of injury, it is easy to see why.
Yet for the most part, there is far less fuss about this England selection. A young squad led by the likes of Tottenham trio Harry Kane, Dele Alli and Eric Dier has raised hopes that England should certainly improve on their dismal group-stage exit at the 2014 World Cup. And the emergence of 18-year-old Marcus Rashford, who scored on his England debut last week and makes the squad just over three months since he made his first-team debut for Manchester United, is another positive storyline. However, the presence of Wayne Rooney, England’s captain and record goalscorer but now some way past his prime, promises to provide coach Roy Hodgson with plenty of headaches.
Goalkeepers: Fraser Forster (Southampton), Joe Hart (Manchester City), Tom Heaton (Burnley)
Defenders: Ryan Betrand (Southampton), Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Nathaniel Clyne (Liverpool), Danny Rose (Tottenham), Chris Smalling (Manchester United), John Stones (Everton), Kyle Walker (Tottenham)
Midfielders: Dele Alli (Tottenham), Ross Barkley (Everton), Eric Dier (Tottenham), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Adam Lallana (Liverpool), James Milner (Liverpool), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), Jack Wilshere (Arsenal)
Forwards: Harry Kane (Tottenham), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Wayne Rooney (Manchester United), Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool), Jamie Vardy (Leicester)