The European Championships' 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...
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.
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. ...
The Netherlands international was withdrawn 24 minutes into Bayern's first home defeat of the season following a foul by Gladbach's Tony Jantschke. The 31-year-old had only returned after a minor back injury suffered in the 7-0 Champions League victory over Shakthar Donetsk.
"Bad news: Arjen #Robben has torn an abdominal muscle...
In-form Wolfsburg striker Bas Dost was named in the Netherlands squad on Friday to take on Turkey in a European Championship qualifier and Spain in a friendly.
The call-up for Dost, who has 13 goals in the Bundesliga this year, gives the Dutch forward line a distinctly German feel. Also included in Guus Hiddink's squad were Bayern Munich winger Arjen Robben and Schalke striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar.
Dost has been in the Netherlands squad before but has yet to make his debut.