Euro 2024 Not Turned-Up XI, featuring Cristiano Ronaldo and Kylian Mbappe

Steven Chicken
Ronaldo, Mbappe and Sesko among those who haven't turned up.
Ronaldo, Mbappe and Sesko among those who haven't turned up.

We’ve had to go a bit Garth Crooks to do it, but we’ve just about been able to assemble a side of players who big things were expected from at Euro 2024 but have struggled to live up to their billing.

Answers on a postcard if you can think of a better shout for centre-backs and central midfielders to

And cheerier folk can check out the Unexpected Heroes XI.


GOALKEEPER: Wojciech Szczesny (Poland): In reality, there aren’t really any keepers out there who have had absolute, unexpected stinky ones. Six goals conceded including a Christoph Baumgartner strike that made him look a bit daft for guessing completely the wrong way gets Szczesny in almost by default.


DEFENDER: Giovanni Di Lorenzo (Italy): At Euro 2020 he celebrated by running around with his shorts off; at Euro 2024 he’s simply shown his arse. Nico Williams’ dizzying display against the full-back had Ally McCoist saying the needed a cup of tea to get over a brutal first 45 minutes against Spain.

DEFENDER: Antonio Silva (Portugal): Hugely highly rated coming into the tournament after months of links to Liverpool, Manchester United and the rest, the Benfica defender has in actual fact played second fiddle to a man over twice his age and played just 73 minutes over two appearances, gifting Georgia a goal with a silly back-pass along the way.

DEFENDER: Josko Gvardiol (Croatia): Hot off a bizarre reinvention into a weirdly prolific left-back goalscorer for Manchester City at the end of last season, Gvardiol has had a bit of nightmare summer for his country. Spain ran rings around him in the opening game and he was poor again as Albania claimed a 2-2 draw that left Croatia needing a win they didn’t get against Italy in the final game.


MIDFIELDER: Jorginho (Italy): The supposed reliable playmaker in an unreliable team that struggled to play. Hauled off at half time against Spain, removed prior to Italy’s late equaliser against Croatia, then dropped for the knockouts against Switzerland.

MIDFIELDER: Phil Foden (England): We now firmly enter The Crooks Zone, as if that defence didn’t qualify on its own already…but hey, if half the pundits out in Germany can pick Foden as a central midfielder despite no evidence he’d actually be any good there, so can we. We could have picked any of a number of England players, really, but as so often in a white shirt, Foden has been particularly frustrating. What does Pep know that Gareth Southgate doesn’t? (Don’t answer that.)

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MIDFIELDER: Federico Chiesa (Italy): Clearly sent doppelganger Tom Rosenthal to play in his place so he could have an extended holiday. He’s looking more and more like a ‘good at that one tournament’ player, isn’t he?

MIDFIELDER: Kevin De Bruyne (Belgium): We were a bit confused when the BBC declared KDB’s showing against Romania to be ‘a masterclass’: he’s not looked right to us all summer, that game included, in spite of eventually getting on the scoresheet. ‘He is the class act who showed why he carries Belgium’s hopes of going deep into Euro 2024,’ Phil McNulty wrote. ‘He’s got zero assists for a really crap Belgium side who limped out in the last 16,’ we retort.


FORWARD: Kylian Mbappe (France): We can’t imagine breaking your nose and playing in a mask is a lot of fun, but still…what is it with Mbappe at the Euros? One goal – and that a penalty – for a player who has been so prolific at World Cups, is just bizarre at this point.

FORWARD: Benjamin Sesko (Slovenia): Another European transfer rumour cause célèbre before he signed a new deal at RB Leipzig, Sesko was tasked with spearheading a very defensively capable Slovenia side and making the most of any chances they made on the counter. And he got that chance, one-on-one with the keeper deep into extra time against Portugal…and blew it. That gets him in ahead of Romelu ‘Offside’ Lukaku and Antoine Griezmann, who have also been proper sh*te.

FORWARD: Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal): Don’t show him this, you’ll only set him off again.

READ: Cristiano Ronaldo produces most arrogant display in football history as Portugal win in spite of him