The absentees: Ramos, Zlatan among players who will miss Euro 2020

Euro 2020 in 2021 will be a frustrating watch from their homes for several footballers. The Covid-19-hit tournament saw several key names miss out on the championship, which will be held across 11 host cities. Here are some of the biggest names who will sit out the 16th edition.

Spain, gunning for its first major trophy since the 2012 Euros, will miss the experience, leadership and big-game mentality of Sergio Ramos.   -  AP

Sergio Ramos

Arguably the biggest name to miss out from the upcoming Euros. This will be the first major international tournament since 2006 – a run of nine successive tournaments – that Ramos will not be a part of. While it comes as a surprise, it really shouldn’t be after the injury-plagued season the centre-back has endured. He has completed 90 minutes just thrice and made just one league start with Real Madrid in the calendar year due to a series of injuries, knocks and Covid-19 related layoffs.

Spain boss Luis Enrique explained it “wasn’t easy” to leave out the 35-year-old, who has 180 international caps, the most for his country. “But I called him last night and we had a difficult and tough conversation,” said Enrique. “I feel bad as he’s a player who has always been at the top level and has a future with the national team.”

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Spain, gunning for its first major trophy since the 2012 Euros, will miss the experience, leadership and big-game mentality of Ramos. In his absence, La Roja’s four centre-backs selected for the tournament hold a combined 21 caps between them.

Virgil van Dijk

One could argue that the Netherlands has been dealt the most cruel hand in the postponement of the Euros from last summer. Coach Ronald Koeman, who played a big part in transforming the team’s fortunes, was snapped up by Barcelona last August. Then, skipper and centre-back Virgil van Dijk suffered an anterior crucial ligament injury in October, which ruled him out for the rest of the season with Liverpool.

Virgil van Dijk.   -  AP

 

In May, van Dijk pulled himself out of the European Championship to complete the final phase of his rehab during the off-season. He expressed his disappointment but admitted that he had made peace with his decision. “Obviously I am very gutted to miss the Euros and leading out my own country there, but I have to accept it – we all have to accept it,” said the 29-year-old.

Van Dijk is in the prime of his career and had been integral to both Liverpool and the Netherlands’ success on the pitch in the last three years. His club side suffered this season in his absence and that could prove as an indicator of the Netherlands’ fortunes in the summer as well.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s penchant for the spectacular on the international stage was undone by a knee injury late into the season with AC Milan.

The 39-year-old Swede had returned to the international fold in March after five years in retirement following his 16 goals and three assists in 26 outings for AC Milan as the striker proved integral to the club’s return to the Champions League for the first time in eight seasons.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic.   -  Getty Images

 

On his Sweden comeback in March, Ibrahimovic set up two assists in as many games in the World Cup qualifiers. While it is difficult to quantify the impact he could have had on the pitch, his experience and presence in the dressing room could have added to Sweden’s hopes of progressing from the group stages.

Erling Haaland

Erling Haaland is the new-age Ibrahimovic – athletic, power-packed, brash and full of goals. Much like the Swede, Haaland is destined to represent the ‘super clubs’ of European football in the next two decades. But much like Ibrahimovic on the international stage, the onus will lie heavily on Haaland to ensure Norway’s qualification to the high-profile tournaments. Haaland will miss Euro 2020 by virtue of failure to qualify.

Erling Haaland.   -  AP

 

The last time Norway played in a major international tournament, Haaland wasn’t even born, and the 20-year-old now leads his country’s charge. The Borussia Dortmund striker finished as the top-scorer in this season’s Champions League with 10 goals to add to his 27 strikes in the Bundesliga.

Ansu Fati

Another youngster who we won’t be able to see at the championship will be Spain’s Ansu Fati. The 18-year-old, who holds the record for Spain’s youngest-ever goal-scorer, will miss the flight due to a knee injury he suffered late last year.

Adding to his record with Spain, the forward holds multiple records with his club side Barcelona as well. Fati could have provided Spain with the X-factor in the Euro 2020 finals.

Ansu Fati.   -  AP

 

Spain boss Enrique was effusive in his praise for the Guinea-Bissau-born footballer before injury cut short his season. “He never ceases to amaze me. No one would think that he is an 18-year-old player. He interprets game situations very well, he knows how to play in relation to his teammates, play in one or two touches, he has goals, defensive work,” said Enrique.

 

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