We can’t believe this outrageously good XI hasn’t qualified for Euro 2024

Despite the expansion of the European Championship to include 24 teams, plenty of talented players won’t participate in this summer’s finals.

Every football fan wants the biggest names to make it, but a combination of hard luck, lack of depth and sheer ineffectiveness means some of the continent’s brightest talents will endure a football-free close season.

We’ve compiled the best XI made up of players from countries that won’t be playing at this summer’s tournament in Germany.

GK: Lucas Hradecky

A new name in the eyes of many, football hipsters will be clued up on Hradecky, who keeps guard for Xabi Alonso’s Bayer Leverkusen as their first-choice goalkeeper.

He’s no spring chicken at 34, but age is but a number for goalkeepers and the Finnish international is proving it on the big stage, wearing the armband for Leverkusen and Finland, and having already kept 18 clean sheets in the Bundesliga this season.

Hradecky has been capped 91 times for his country and played all three of their games at EURO 2020, which might just have been his last international tournament without realising as they finished third in Group G before being dumped out of the play-off rounds by Wales.

RB: Conor Bradley

Bradley has burst onto the scene this season with a string of impressive performances for Liverpool that have convinced even the most well-adjusted Kopite that his age of 20 must be a misprint.

Sadly, the full-back’s prowess wasn’t enough for Northern Ireland to finish above Denmark and Slovenia in their qualifying group.

With the next Euros featuring matches in Belfast, Bradley will hope to lead his country back to a major tournament.

Klopp has used over 100 players at Liverpool.

TRY A QUIZ: Can you name every player Jurgen Klopp has used at Liverpool?

CB: Ben Davies

Captain of the Welsh national team in their post-Bale era, Davies has always been a dependable asset for Tottenham and turns it up another level when representing Wales.

A shaky qualifying campaign meant that Rob Page’s side’s European Championship hopes went down to the wire, with a penalty shootout against Poland being their undoing.

Davies netted his spot-kick and should they have made it to Germany, you already know he’d have quietly been one of the best performers.

At 30, he might well have played at his last major tournament for Wales.

CB: Nathan Collins

Ireland have several talented youngsters coming through, including Brighton striker Evan Ferguson, but even the best Irish sides of yesteryear would’ve found it difficult to qualify ahead of France and the Netherlands.

Brentford centre-back Collins is still only 22 and there’s every chance he’ll lead the Irish side out in Dublin during the next edition of the European Championship.

LB: Kostas Tsimikas

While not a superstar, Tsimikas has proven himself to be a more than dependable squad player for Liverpool, pushing Andy Robertson for his spot at left-back and providing a wealth of quality and experience at international level for Greece.

Unfortunately, his quality couldn’t carry Greece past Georgia, who booked their spot at the tournament on penalties.

He’s arguably his nation’s best player and would get in most Premier League sides as well as plenty of top teams around Europe’s top five leagues.

He won’t mind the extra summer holidays, but we’re pretty sure he’d much rather be in Germany.

CDM: Ethan Ampadu

He’s not the world-class midfielder many once expected him to become – not yet, anyway – but Ampadu is already a vastly experienced player, having played at EURO 2020, the 2022 World Cup and in three of Europe’s top five leagues at the age of just 23.

It didn’t work out at Chelsea or on any of his loans abroad, but the versatile defender/midfielder is using all of his experience at Leeds United and finally enjoying a breakout season.

You feel that a chance to thrive on the big stage in Germany for Wales would’ve been perfect for him.

CM: Eljif Elmas

North Macedonia were a quirky presence at Euro 2020, playing some neat football despite losing all three matches, but they won’t return to the finals this year.

Pitted against England, Italy and Ukraine in qualifying, there was little prospect of the Balkan country repeating their fairytale achievements of last time, meaning the talented Leipzig midfielder Elmas will be spending June and July on the beach.

CM: Martin Odegaard

One of Norway’s blue-ribband pair, Odegaard has captained his country since 2021 but was unable to ensure their first qualification for a major finals since Euro 2000.

While the Norwegians would’ve expected to finish below Spain, only taking one point against Scotland proved fatal to their hopes.

Arsenal fans will at least be thankful their midfield talisman has the summer off to recuperate.

READ: 9 national teams that currently boast a golden generation of talent

RW: Dejan Kulusevski

Despite a plethora of brilliant attackers – we could’ve also included Anthony Elanga, Alexander Isak and Viktor Gyokeres in our XI – Sweden were abysmal in qualifying and finished well adrift of Belgium and Austria in Group F.

Kulusevski has yet to fully shine for his country and it’ll be the task of new manager Jon Dahl Tomasson to unlock his potential and restore the Swedes to their status of last-16 regulars.

LW: Alexander Isak

Sweden’s massively underwhelming EURO 2024 qualifying campaign means that Isak also has a summer off.

Considering just how good he’s been since signing for Newcastle in 2022, when not injured, it’s a real shame to know that he won’t be heading to Germany.

Isak is a special talent and at just 24 has time on his side to carry a young and blossoming Sweden outfit to a major tournament, but not this time.

ST: Erling Haaland

Six goals from the big man in qualifying wasn’t enough to lead Norway to the finals, even if they were exceptionally unlucky not to make the play-offs under UEFA’s convoluted system.

Haaland will hope to play at the 2026 World Cup, although Europe have only been allocated three of the additional 16 places at the finals in North America.

The Manchester City striker may have to wait until Euro 2028 to play at a major international tournament. It would be unthinkable for a player of his prowess never reached one.

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