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European Championship

Spain leave out Azpilicueta

Spain news
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 By Michael Cox

Can Verratti, De Gea and Kane break into their national teams' starting XIs?

The ESPN FC crew debate whether or not Harry Kane should start up front for England against Lithuania.
England head coach Roy Hodgson, and striker Wayne Rooney are confident about Harry Kane's debut in the European qualifier against Lithuania.

The European Championship's expansion to a 24-team tournament has a multitude of effects -- one is that it effectively gives the major countries a free pass. Therefore, managers have more license to experiment and evolve their side with significantly less risk of failure.

Here are five fine talents still attempting to break into their country's first-choice XI -- what chance do they have of overhauling more established names?

1. Marco Verratti, Italy

By this stage, we expected Verratti to be Italy's...

Euro qualifying: Vulnerable favorites, dangerous sleepers

Could Eden Hazard and Belgium be in danger of missing the 2016 Euros?
Could Eden Hazard and Belgium be in danger of missing the 2016 Euros?

Aside from the World Cup, the European championship is the most competitive tournament in the world. The tournament features some of the globe's best players, and the upcoming 2016 competition in France will serve as an indicator of which teams are poised to excel at the 2018 World Cup.

The current crop of 53 eligible teams is split into nine groups, with the group winners, runners-up and the best third-placed team earning a tournament berth. The eight remaining third-placed teams face off in a playoff to determine the last four teams to join the host nation in the 24-team field. While this week marks the halfway point in the qualification process for most nations, there are some teams that already stand out for either playing above or below their expected standard.

Here is a look at three Euro 2016 contenders that are showing signs of vulnerability and could be in danger of not qualifying, along with three overachieving teams that could be dangerous sleepers to not only earn a berth to the tournament but make waves at the Euros.


Vulnerable favorites

Belgium | Qualifying record: 1-0-2 (win-loss-draw) | Group rank: 4th

Snapshot: Belgium, which is fourth in Group B, will battle Bosnia-Herzegovina, Wales and Israel for the top spots.

Belgium started strong with a 6-0 opening win over Andorra but subsequent draws against Bosnia-Herzegovina and Wales have raised questions about how the team uses its attacking resources. ...

 By PA Sport

Greg Dyke: England may bid to host Euro 2028

Football Association chairman Greg Dyke has dismissed the report on corruption during the FIFA World Cup bidding process as 'a joke'.

England are interested in bidding for Euro 2028 but are very unlikely to bid for the 2026 World Cup, Football Association chairman Greg Dyke has said.

FIFA announced last week that the decision on the 2026 tournament will be made in 2017, when Sepp Blatter is still likely to be FIFA president.

The FA has decided not to bid for FIFA tournaments while Blatter is still in power following England's failed bid for 2018 but is eyeing a bid for the European Championship in 2028.

Dyke told Press Association...

Michel Platini re-elected as UEFA president

Michel Platini was re-elected as president of UEFA after running unopposed

VIENNA -- Michel Platini was re-elected as UEFA president on Tuesday, and two critics of Sepp Blatter were chosen to join the FIFA executive committee.

In his acceptance speech, Platini pledged his love for FIFA despite supporting all three candidates against Blatter in the world governing body's own presidential election.

Platini ran unopposed to extend his reign, which started in 2007, and was voted in by acclamation by the leaders of UEFA's 54 member federations to serve four more years.

"This...