Courtois left out of Belgium’s Euro 2024 squad

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Does Courtois deserve to start the UCL final for Real Madrid? (1:07)

Don Hutchison and Gab Marcotti discuss whether Thibaut Courtois should start for Real Madrid instead of Andriy Lunin for the UCL final. (1:07)

  • ESPN News Services

May 28, 2024, 05:27 AM ET

Thibaut Courtois has been left out of the Belgium squad for Euro 2024, despite the Real Madrid goalkeeper being in line to feature in Saturday’s Champions League final.

Courtois walked out on the Belgium squad last June when he was not named captain in the wake of Eden Hazard’s retirement, leading to a public falling out with coach Domenico Tedesco.

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The 32-year-old was was criticised by teammates and has since expressed regret.

Coutois has been sidelined for much of the season after suffering two serious knee injuries. He returned against Cádiz in LaLiga on May 4, before sitting out Madrid’s Champions League semifinal second leg against Bayern Munich. He has since kept clean sheets against Granada, Alavés and Real Betis.

Sources have told ESPN that the club believes that, if he is physically fit, there is no debate that he will start in the Champions League final.

“Courtois was very clear and honest and early in his communication. The latest information we received is that he is not ready for the European Championship. He knows his body best,” Tedesco said at a news conference on Tuesday.

Despite rules permitting coaches to take a 26-man squad to the tournament, Tedesco decided to name only 25 players in the group he will take to Germany.

Tuesday’s squad did feature a recall for Axel Witsel who had announced his international retirement last year. His return comes after Tedesco visited Atlético Madrid to persuade the midfielder to come back to the team.

The 35-year-old won the last of his 130 caps at the World Cup in Qatar, where Belgium were eliminated in the group stage.

“I have had Axel in my mind for a long time, even during the qualification,” Tedesco said. “It’s about quality, Witsel offers a lot of quality.

“He is a key player at Atlético Madrid. I met him, wanted to see him, look into his eyes. We need him, he has experience and can help the young players. Experience in that position is important. We are playing a European Championship, that is no small thing.”

Former Ajax and Tottenham defender Jan Vertonghen, who has earned 154 caps for his country, has been included in the squad at the age of 37. The squad also includes top scorer Romelu Lukaku, who has netted 83 times in 114 appearances for his country.

Goalkeepers: Koen Casteels (VfL Wolfsburg), Thomas Kaminski (Luton Town), Matz Sels (Nottingham Forest)

Defenders: Timothy Castagne (Fulham), Maxim De Cuyper (Club Brugge), Zeno Debast (Anderlecht), Wout Faes (Leicester City), Thomas Meunier (Trabzonspor), Jan Vertonghen (Anderlecht), Arthur Theate (Stade Rennais), Axel Witsel (Atlético Madrid)

Midfielders: Yannick Carrasco (Al Shabab), Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City), Orel Mangala (Lyon), Amadou Onana (Everton), Youri Tielemans (Aston Villa), Arthur Vermeeren (Atlético Madrid), Aster Vranckx (vfL Wolfsburg)

Forwards: Johan Bakayoko (PSV Eindhoven), Charles De Ketelaere (Atalanta), Jeremy Doku (Manchester City), Romelu Lukaku (Roma), Dodi Lukebakio (Sevilla), Lois Openda (RB Leipzig), Leandro Trossard (Arsenal).

Information from Reuters contributed to this report.

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