Euro 2024 squad depth XI: An English No.10, Spain-Portugal double pivot and a Serbian striker

Will Ford
Rodri, Mitrovic and Van Dijk at Euro 2024.
Rodri, Mitrovic and Van Dijk at Euro 2024.

There’s no place for James Maddison or Jack Grealish in the England squad thanks to a surplus of talented forwards, but Gareth Southgate has just one (injured) left-back in his unbalanced Three Lions squad.

The same is true of almost all nations at Euro 2024, and we’ve had a go at picking an XI based on the squad depths of the 24. You’ll get the idea.

By the way, we only allowed ourselves to use a nation once to avoid a team of Frenchmen with an English No.10.

 

GK: Italy
1. Gianluigi Donnarumma (Paris Saint-Germain), 12. Guglielmo Vicario (Spurs), 26. Alex Meret (Napoli).

Donnarumma already has 62 caps at the age of 25 and remains first choice under Luciano Spalletti, but Vicario was excellent in his debut season for Spurs – Ben White antics aside – and is yet to concede an international goal having kept clean sheets against Ecuador and Chile in the recent friendlies. Meret has been Napoli’s undisputed No.1 for the last two seasons, keeping 16 clean sheets in their 2022/2023 Scudetto win.

 

RB: Denmark
5. Joakim Maehle (Wolfsburg), 18. Alexander Bah (Benfica), 25. Rasmus Kristensen (Roma).

Maehle caught the eye at Euro 2020, scoring two goals from left wing-back en route to the semi-final and defeat to England, and will probably play there again, but he operates predominantly at right-back for his club and has on occasion for Denmark. Bah started both of the recent friendlies as the right wing-back, with Leeds’ Kristensen likely set for a watching brief.

 

CB: France
4. Dayot Upamecano (Bayern Munich), 5. Jules Kounde (Barcelona), 17. William Saliba (Arsenal),  24. Ibrahima Konate (Liverpool).

No place for the least terrible Chelsea centre-back Axel Disasi or Manchester United target Jean-Clair Todibo in a France squad as deep as a Nick Cave B-side. Saliba having only started eight games for his country is terrifyingly telling.

 

CB: Netherlands
3. Matthijs de Ligt (Bayern Munich), 4. Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool), 5. Nathan Ake (Manchester City), 6. Stefan de Vrij (Inter), 15. Mickey van de Van (Spurs), 17. Daley Blind (Girona).

If Ronald Koeman were to pick an XI based purely on ability without, y’know, scoring or assisting goals in mind, we reckon all six would get in the team. Actually, we would be tempted even with scoring and assisting goals in mind; the midfielders and forwards aren’t up to much.

 

LB: Scotland
3. Andy Robertson (Liverpool), 6. Kieran Tierney (Real Sociedad)

It was a coin toss between the Scots and Ukraine, who have Oleksandr Zinchenko and Vitaly Mykolenko to choose from, but Zinchenko will probably do his I’m Actually A Midfielder bit. Tierney and Robertson will both play, with the former at centre-back and the skipper at wing-back.

READ MORE: Scotland have too many glaring holes and are poised for a battering at Euro 2024

 

CM: Portugal
6. Joao Palhinha (Fulham), 15. Joao Neves (Benfica), 16. Matheus Nunes (Manchester City), 18. Ruben Neves (Al-Hilal), 23. Vitinha (Paris Saint-Germain).

Palhinha’s about to join Bayern Munich, Joao Neves is currently being linked with a nine-figure move, Nunes cost City £60m last summer when Neves moved to Saudi for £50m and Vitinha is now arguably Paris Saint-Germain’s most important player. We should all be afraid of Portugal.

 

CM: Spain
6. Mikel Merino (Real Sociedad), 8. Fabian Ruiz (Paris Saint-Germain), 16. Rodri (Manchester City), 18. Martin Zubimendi (Real Sociedad), 20. Pedri (Barcelona), 25. Fermin Lopez (Barcelona).

We would probably have picked Spain no matter who was in the squad with Rodri, who has been the one-man depth at the base of Manchester City’s midfield for the last two seasons, but he’s joined by some fabulously talented midfielders who we reckon may have watched a Barcelona game or two in the noughties.

 

RW: Germany
17. Florian Wirtz (Bayer Leverkusen), 19. Leroy Sane (Bayern Munich), 10. Jamal Musiala (Bayern Munich).

A touch of square pegs in round holes here as both Wirtz and Musiala are nominally No.10s and will likely both be starting the opening game against Scotland. But they have been operating in the wider positions and swapping sides as Kai Havertz drops as a false nine in Julian Nagelsmann’s fluid system that saw the Germans beat both France and the Netherlands in March.

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AM: England
10. Jude Bellingham (Real Madrid), 11. Phil Foden (Manchester City), 24. Cole Palmer (Chelsea), 21. Eberechi Eze (Crystal Palace).

The La Liga Player of the Season, the Premier League Player of the Season, the Premier League signing of the season who scored the second-most goals, and one of the most entertaining players to watch in the English top flight, who – if he’s sold this summer – will cost the lucky suitors £60m. They’re nothing without the foreigners though. Hmmm.

 

LW: Belgium
9. Leandro Trossard (Arsenal), 11. Yannick Carrasco (Al Shabab), 22. Jeremy Doku (Manchester City).

Belgium’s best team will likely feature Doku on the left and Trossard to the right, either side of Lukaku, but they would both ideally like to come from the left.

 

ST: Serbia
7. Dusan Vlahovic (Juventus), 8. Luka Jovic (AC Milan), 9. Aleksandar Mitrovic (Al-Hilal), 18. Petar Ratkov (RB Salzburg).

It’s fair to say things haven’t quite gone to plan for Jovic since his £60m move to Real Madrid in 2019; he’s got 29 goals in five seasons having scored 27 the season before his move. But Mitrovic got 40 in 44 games for Al-Hilal and Vlahovic got 18 for Juve. Both played in the 3-0 win over Sweden last time out, and we can’t be alone in hoping their displays at Euro 2024 (except against England) usher in a new two-striker era the world over.