France, Belgium booted out, Modric embarrassing and England win – what Euro 2024 shirt numbers say

Matt Stead
France goalkeeper Mike Maignan, England forward Bukayo Saka and Belgium player Yannick Carrasco
Just look at those French and Belgian travesties

Cristiano Ronaldo and Luka Modric should act their age but France and Belgium ought to be particularly ashamed of themselves. It’s coming home for England.

Every country has played once at Euro 2024 and the only mature response to that revelation is to look through the starting line-ups made by each team and assess them based on who used the squad numbers correctly.

Call it The Dyche Principle. And throw out France and Belgium because of it.


Starting line-up
: Pentz 13; Posch 5, Danso 4, Wober 2, Mwene 16; Seiwald 6, Grillitsch 10; Laimer 20, Baumgartner 19, Sabitzer 9; Gregoritsch 11

Correct numbers: 0

Manchester United supporters would agree that this is the worst thing Ralf Rangnick has ever done. Even more infuriating is that Austria were a couple of number switches away from something vaguely respectable: how do you have a right-back wearing the 5 while a centre-half dons the 2? Or the other centre-half sporting the 4 while a central midfielder strolls around in the 6? Sabitzer and Gregoritsch should swap too. There are 23 countries left and this is already infuriating.

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Starting line-up
: Maignan 16; Kounde 5, Upamecano 4, Saliba 17, Hernandez 22; Kante 13, Rabiot 14; Dembele 11, Griezmann 7, Thuram 15; Mbappe 10

Correct numbers: 0

Honestly, that game was an absolute travesty which should be struck from history with any recordings of it confiscated and destroyed. A central midfield pairing wearing 13 and 14 is complete woke nonsense and 16 for a keeper is a sick joke worthy of expulsion.


Starting line-up
: Lunin 23; Konoplya 2, Zabarnyi 13, Matviyenko 22, Zinchenko 17; Shaparenko 19, Stepanenko 6; Tsygankov 15, Sudakov 14, Mudryk 10; Dovbyk 11

Correct numbers: One

Might as well address this now: ‘six’ being shorthand for an actual midfield position does not legitimise wearing it while carrying out the role. Nice try, Taras. There will be no further questions at this time.


Starting line-up
: Costa 22; Dias 4, Pepe 3, Mendes 19; Dalot 5, Vitinha 23, Fernandes 8, Cancelo 20; Silva 10, Ronaldo 7, Leao 17

Correct numbers: One

Not for the first time, Bruno Fernandes is inexplicably the only sensible adult in the room. Although CR9 does sound silly.


Starting line-up
Gunok 1; Muldur 18, Akaydin 4, Bardakci 14, Kadioglu 20; Calhanoglu 10, Ayhan 22; Guler 8, Kokcu 6, Yildiz 19; Yilmaz 21

Correct numbers: One

Thankfully that game was ridiculously good because Turkey had plenty to atone for after that Numberwang! mess. A centre-half wearing 14, the deep-lying playmaker taking the 10 and the attacking midfielder donning the 6 is deeply unnecessarily maverick stuff.


Starting line-up: Casteels 1; Castagne 21, Faes 4, Debast 2, Ferreira Carrasco 11; Mangala 18, Onana 24; Doku 22, De Bruyne 7, Trossard 9; Lukaku 10

Correct numbers: One

Eleven?! It’s not the only reason Belgium need to be disbanded as a country for playing Carrasco at left-back in a major tournament, but it is comfortably the most important one.


Starting line-up: Simon 23; Carvajal 2, Le Normand 3, Nacho 4, Cucurella 24; Pedri 20, Rodri 16, Ruiz 8; Yamal 19, Morata 7, Williams 17

Correct numbers: Two

Don’t give Joselu the 9 if you aren’t going to let him score goals and change lives.


Starting line-up: Mamardashvili 25; Kvirkvelia 5, Kashia 4, Dvali 3; Kakabadze 2, Chakvetadze 10, Mekvabishvili 20, Kochorashvili 6, Tsitaishvili 21; Mikautadze 22, Kvaratshkelia 7

Correct numbers: Two

On one hand, a wonderful and heartening story. On the other, that’s four players with shirt numbers in the 20s. Temuri Ketsbaia assaulted advertising hoardings for less.


Starting line-up
Stanek 1; Holes 3, Hranac 4, Krejci 18; Soucek 22; Coufal 5, Doudera 12, Provod 14, Sulc 25; Schick 10, Kuchta 11

Correct numbers: Two

A vanishingly rare example of the 10 being utilised entirely correctly in a strike pairing, even if the rest of it fails miserably by any rational measure.


Starting line-up: Nita 1; Ratiu 2, Dragusin 3, Burca 15, Bancu 11; M. Marin 6; Man 20, R. Marin 18, Stanciu 21, Coman 17; Dragus 19

Correct numbers: Two

A phenomenal start from the Romanians quickly descends into utter madness with more left-back-wearing-11 perversity and a laughable lack of responsibility throughout the front five. If the right-back can have his fun and dye his hair blue while still adhering to societal numerical norms by bearing 2 then what is everyone else’s excuse?


Starting line-up: Rajkovic 1; Veljkovic 13, Milenkovic 4, Pavlovic 2; Zivkovic 14, Lukic 22, Gudelj 6, Kostic 11; Vlahovic 7, Milinkovic-Savic 20; Mitrovic 9

Correct numbers: Two

Lovely bookending work from Serbia, who might also argue cases for Vlahovic and Kostic being correctly categorised as right and left-sided forwards. But the former was in a front two and the latter was a wing-back. Plus substitute Luka Jovic, a centre-forward, wears 8, so they do not have a single leg to stand on.

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Starting line-up
Szczesny 1; Bednarek 5, Salamon 2, Kiwior 14; Frankowski 19, Szymanski 20, Romanczuk 13, Zielinski 10, Zalewski 21; Buksa 16, Urbanski 26

Correct numbers: Two

Another country offering the early illusion of competence before chucking it all in with a defender in 14, a midfield shambles and one of only two No. 26s who started the first group games. It’s an admirable hill to die on but still fundamentally wrong.


Starting line-up: Neuer 1; Kimmich 6, Rudiger 2, Tah 4, Mittelstadt 18; Andrich 23, Kroos 8; Musiala 10, Gundogan 21, Wirtz 17; Havertz 7

Correct numbers: Two

Trust the two oldest Germany starters to set a tone their teammates simply could not follow. More Niclas Fullkrug leading the line at 9, please.


Starting line-up
Sommer 1; Schar 22, Akanji 5, Rodriguez 13; Widmer 3, Freuler 8, Xhaka 10, Aebischer 20; Ndoye 19, Vargas 17; Duah 18

Correct numbers: Three

Granit in particular really should know better. No longer can he be trusted with the house keys.


Starting line-up
: Strakosha 23; Hysaj 4, Ajeti 5, Djimsiti 6, Mitaj 3, Ramadani 20, Asllani 21; Asani 9, Bajrami 10, Seferi 15; Broja 11

Correct numbers: Four

Really impressive defensive work and finally a 10 being used properly. You see that, Granit? Hope you’re proud.


Starting line-up
Verbruggen 1; Dumfries 22, De Vrij 6, Van Dijk 4, Ake 5; Schouten 24, Veerman 16; Simons 7, Reijnders 14, Gakpo 11; Depay 10

Correct numbers: Four

Feels like the midfield two wearing numbers which add up to 40 is this genre’s rough equivalent of Russia fielding centre-halves with a cumulative age of 78.


Starting line-up
Oblak 1; Karnicnik 2, Drkusic 21, Bijol 6, Janza 13; Stojanovic 20, Gnezda Cerin 22, Elsnik 10, Mlakar 17; Sporar 9, Sesko 11

Correct numbers: Four

Seven countries somehow fell at the first hurdle and started goalkeepers not wearing 1 so this seems as good a time as any to appreciate those who sidestepped such flagrant misconduct.


Starting line-up
Dubravka 1; Pekarik 2, Vavro 3, Skriniar 14, Hancko 16; Kucka 19, Lobotka 22, Duda 8; Schranz 26, Bozenik 9, Haraslin 17

Correct numbers: Four

Good to see Premier League legend Ondrej Duda enjoy himself entirely within the boundaries of what is just and right. And there’s the second and mercifully final No. 26.


Starting line-up: Schmeichel 1; Andersen 2, Christensen 6, Vestergaard 3; Bah 18, Hjulmand 21, Hojbjerg 23, Kristiansen 17; Eriksen 10; Wind 19, Hojlund 9

Correct numbers: Four

The less said about that midfield the better. At least it is easy to see roughly the right idea at the back, with central defenders in a three on the right and left given 2 and 3 respectively. But it is still entirely wrong, even if Eriksen in the 10 is perfect.


Starting line-up: Gulacsi 1; Lang 2, Orban 6, Szalai 4; Fiola 5, Nagy 8, Schafer 13, Kerkez 11; Sallai 20, Szoboszlai 10; Varga 19

Correct numbers: Five

The mark for Kerkez at 11 as the left wing-back might be controversial and possibly even just a direct and justifiably furious reaction to the Carrasco fiasco for Belgium. That has honestly ruined the entire Euros.


Starting line-upLivakovic 1; Stanisic 2, Sutalo 6, Pongracic 3, Gvardiol 4; Modric 10, Brozovic 11, Kovacic 8; Majer 7, Budimir 16, Kramaric 9

Correct numbers: Five

You’re not a 10, Luka. Grow up.


Starting line-up
Donnarumma 1; Di Lorenzo 2, Bastoni 23, Calafiori 5, Dimarco 3; Frattesi 7, Jorginho 8, Barella 18; Chiesa 14, Scamacca 9, Pellegrini 10

Correct numbers: Six

No country completed the perfect defensive set-up; no country came closer than Italy to achieving that holy grail, which feels right. Shame about pretty much everything in attack, save for one of a humorous number of West Ham flops at the tournament.


Starting line-up: Gunn 1; Ralston 2, Porteous 15, Hendry 13, Tierney 6, Robertson 3; McGinn 7, McTominay 4, McGregor 8, Christie 11; Adams 10

Correct numbers: Seven

It is a deep shame Scotland were so wildly and hilariously incompetent against Germany because they largely had their stuff in order otherwise. Things only improved when Porteous was sent off and Adams was sacrificed for Grant Hanley (5). You’re still thinking about the bad news, aren’t you?


Starting line-up
Pickford 1; Walker 2, Stones 5, Guehi 6, Trippier 12; Alexander-Arnold 8, Rice 4; Saka 7, Bellingham 10, Foden 11; Kane 9

Correct numbers: Ten

Southgate in. For life if he can sort Luke Shaw’s calf out. The Clamour for Anthony Gordon and Cole Palmer is all well and good but a smattering of 18 and 24 would ruin that stunning aesthetic.