By now, every country heading to the Women’s Euros next weekend have confirmed their 23-woman squads. Overall they are none too surprising — but several of the frontrunning teams have a noticeable absence or two, whether because of an injury or a snug. These are the four players whose countries will be likely missing them the most.
KIM LITTLE, Scotland
Arsenal’s Kim Little is a domestic and international force to be reckoned with: she’s both Scotland’s leading scorer as well as the National Women’s Soccer League’s, after her 3 years with the Seattle Reign, having also been the first player to reach 30 goals in the U.S. league; she’s been named the FA Women’s Player of the Year (2010, during her first stint at Arsenal), was the first to receive the the PFA Women’s Players’ Player of the Year award on its inception in 2013, and finally won the BBC Women’s Footballer of the Year award on her second nomination in 2016. She won the NWSL Shield twice with the Reign, including the club’s first, as well as three FA Cups and back-to-back FA WSL titles with Arsenal. Finally, she was one of only two non-English women to be selected for the Great Britain team that competed in, and reached the quarterfinals of, the 2012 Olympics.It’s not the most ideal situation to head into a major tournament without her experience or her prowess. But while training with Arsenal at the end of May, Little ruptured her ACL and was quickly ruled out for a return in time for the Euros. Coupled with defender Jen Beattie being unavailable due to an ankle injury sustained, the Scotland squad will be missing some veteran staples. They still have a solid shot at finishing second in their group, but their chances of rivaling England for the top spot are not as strong as they could’ve — or should’ve — been.
ALEXANDRA POPP, Germany
The German women’s team hasn’t solidified themselves as second- — and sometimes first- — best team in the world through only one player, but striker Alexadra Popp has certainly been a major part of them becoming the über-successful team they are today.At 21 years old, after winning the 2010 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup with Germany and receiving both the Golden Ball and Golden Shoe for her performance, she was called up for her first senior tournament ahead of the 2011 Women’s World Cup. She did not look back, skyrocketing her way to two Algarve Cups (2012 and 2014) as well as a gold medal in the 2016 summer Olympics.The two-time German Footballer of the Year (2014 and 2016) has been just as successful at Wolfsburg, where she has won the Women’s Champions League twice and the league thrice. Unfortunately, the 26-year-old was not called up to the Euro squad after suffering a tear to her left knee in training. Will Germany be able to nab their 7th-straight Euro victory without her,
ENIOLA ALUKO, England
Aluko’s exclusion from an England squad for a major tournament might seem like a long time coming, notoriously headbutting quite a bit with head coach Mark Sampson, but the time has finally come — for the first time in 12 years. The 30-year-old Chelsea striker did not receive as much playing time in England’s bronze-winning 2015 Women’s World Cup campaign, despite having been their leading goalscorer in qualifying, and so was not terribly surprised at finally being left off the roster altogether. However, as Aluko was named to the FA WSL 2015 Team of the Year and was the 2016 FA WSL season’s leading goalscorer, Sampson’s stubbornness come back to bite him if the youngsters receiving their first tournament call-ups don’t perform as well in her place.
VERÓNICA BOQUETE, Spain
Certainly the most surprising aspect of any country’s roster was the omittance of 14-year Spanish veteran Verónica Boquete. It seemingly came out of nowhere; Boquete, only 30, had reached the UWCL final with PSG in May — also having won it with Frankfurt in 2014/15 — and had captained Spain to their first-ever Women’s World Cup appearance just two years ago.
With her form not in question, the decision seems to have been one of simple politics on the part of head coach Jorge Vilda, with whom she had odds. Vero was quick to speak out to EL PAÍS, saying herself that the decision was not based on sports. “My performance and quality are the same now.”And facing a group with England and Scotland, it might not have been the best time for Vilda to exact his personal revenge.
Which squad is best poised to succeed without their missing stars?