Best XI Not Going To Euro ’16!


This article was first published on November 18th 2015

AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - OCTOBER 13: Robin van Persie of the Netherlands (19) reacts during the UEFA EURO 2016 qualifying Group A match between the Netherlands and the Czech Republic at Amsterdam Arena on October 13, 2015 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

Next summer’s European Championships were expanded to allow 24 teams in, but that still doesn’t mean everybody’s invited to the party. There are still some fantastic teams and individual players who failed to qualify for next year’s tournament.

Here, we take a look at constructing the best XI of players who won’t be at France 2016!

Goalkeeper – Samir Handanovic – Slovenia & Inter Milan

Algeria v Slovenia: Group C - 2010 FIFA World Cup

Handanovic in goal for Slovenia in the 2010 World Cup. Photo: Clive Mason/Getty Images

Handanovic has bloomed relatively late on in his career to become one of the most reliable shot stoppers in Europe. A member of the Inter team that failed to even qualify for the Europa League last season. That blip behind him now, he’s central to Roberto Mancini’s previously thought unlikely push for the Serie A title this year.

Left back – Daley Blind – Netherlands & Manchester United

A pacemaker in any team he plays in, Daley Blind showed the world what he can offer when he whipped in the beautiful assist for THAT Robin van Persie header against Spain in last year’s World Cup. Netherlands had a disastrous qualifying campaign that never really got going to begin with, and one that has now left them in the midst of an identity crisis, and Czech Republic, Iceland, and Turkey all qualifying from their group ahead of them.

Centre back – Sokratis Papastathopoulos – Greece & Borussia Dortmund

Greece’s Euro 2016 qualifying meltdown was even more horrific than the Netherlands’, with numerous infamous results that will doubtless live long in many people’s memories. However, Papastathopoulos is a very good defender, and is leading his new-look Dortmund team to their great heights once again. This time under new manager Thomas Tuchel, Dortmund have only lost one match all season – of course, to Bayern Munich.

Centre back – Simon Kjær – Denmark & Fenerbahçe

Kjær was once the hottest defensive prospect in Europe during his Serie A days. Having been linked with numerous high profile clubs in the last few years including Liverpool, he’s now spending his time battling it out in a Turkish league growing in strength.

Right back – Aleksandar Kolarov – Serbia & Manchester City

Albania v Serbia - UEFA EURO 2016 Qualifier

Euro 2016 will be without a world class full back in Kolarov. Photo: Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images

A little bit of improvisation will be needed to invert Kolarov from a left sided defender to a right sided one, but once he’s accustomed to the shift in feet, he’ll be ready to bomb down the wing of this team with the regular aplomb he does with Premier League leading Manchester City.

Midfield – Miralem Pjanic – Bosnia & Roma

Pjanic is probably the best free kick taker in all of Europe right now, as he’s seemingly unstoppable from the dead ball in Serie A and the Champions League this year. One of the most technically gifted attacking midfielders in the continent this season, next summer’s tournament will be lesser without him.

Midfield – Nemanja Matic – Serbia & Chelsea

Despite not having the best of seasons at club or international level, Matic is still a very good footballer. Along with Kolarov, his qualifying campaign ended in shame with a red card in Serbia’s last game against Portugal. Sure to show his class again once this Mourinho-Chelsea-nightmare season subsides.

Midfield – Steven Naismith – Scotland & Everton

Poland v Scotland - EURO 2016 Qualifier

Naismith’s goals could only bring Scotland so far. Photo: Adam Nurkiewicz/Getty Images

An ace in the sleeve of any team, Naismith can play in a more reserved midfield role or higher up the pitch as support for a striker. Always good value to bag a goal, and showed he can do it against the very best with a hat trick to stun Chelsea for Everton at the start of the season.

Attack – Henrik Mkhitaryan – Armenia & Borussia Dortmund

Mkhitaryan suffered from last season’s horror campaign with Jurgen Klopp and Dortmund, but with Tuchel now the tricky Armenian looks an entirely new player. Unfortunate to be born in a country devoid of top talent, Mkhitaryan’s quality really stands out in his national team.

Attack – Edin Dzeko – Bosnia & Roma

The hope of a Serie A title for Roma doesn’t lie squarely on Dzeko’s shoulders, but he is their new front man who the Romans are hoping can lead their team to a first Scudetto since 2001. The former Manchester City title winner scored eight goals for Bosnia in this qualifying campaign including one against Ireland in the playoff and one hat trick.

Attack – Robin van Persie – Netherlands & Fenerbahçe

Netherlands v Czech Republic - UEFA EURO 2016 Qualifier

This kind of thing was a familiar sight in Netherlands’ qualifying campaign. Photo: Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

Van Persie’s career looks to be on a downward curve in Turkey, and at the age of 32, it looks like it’s a downward curve from which he won’t be able to recover. Unable to do the business for United last season, he was let go to Turkey where he doesn’t look like he’s getting on well. He summed up the Netherlands’ qualifying campaign by coming on as a sub in their last match vs Czech Republic in the first half at 2-0 down, and made it 3-0 to the Czechs with an awful own goal…

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