I’ve been looking at the numbers, and it seems like the people are quite fond of lists. That’s well and good during the season, when I have the natural means to satisfy the people’s desires, but during the long and dreary offseason it’s more of a problem.

Luckily for me, it just so happened that the Finnish National Team qualified for the tournament for the first time ever, which has the potential to make for good content. I’ve long been a fan of Football365’s England ladder, which is an attempt at following the current head coach’s view of the squad he wants to take to whatever tournament is played in the summer, and so I thought I’d… borrow the idea.

So, in honour of there being exactly 100 days until Finland kick off their historic first European Championship, this is another list of 50, but this time, the idea isn’t to find the next big thing in domestic league football, but to delve into the mind of Markku Kanerva to try to figure out what he’s planning for the summer. To reiterate, the point isn’t to rank who I would select, but to try to figure out who he is likely to be selected based on the evidence at hand.

The ladder

Rank Name Age Team Minutes Primary Position
1 Teemu Pukki 29 Norwich 2315 ST
Teemu Pukki is more to this team than just their best player: his development as a player has mirrored that of the national team, and he is arguably as big of a symbol of what a Finnish player is/should be than Jari Litmanen ever was. He’s going, although his workload for Norwich might not bode well for Finland’s hopes.
2 Glen Kamara 24 Glasgow Rangers 1310 MC
I don’t think it’s a surprise that Finland’s fortunes started to turn once Kamara was established at the base of their midfield. He’s a truly modern all-rounder, capable of carrying the ball forward just as well as passing it, who shields the defense well and tries to be playable at all times. He’s just as irreplaceable for Finland as Pukki.
3 Jere Uronen 25 KRC Genk 1473 LB
A strong Euros could catapult Uronen into the next stage of his, so far very impressive, career. Belongs to the top tier of current Finnish players.
4 Robin Lod 26 Minnesota United RW
I think Lod is great. He’s a modern footballer with few flaws. His career path maybe hasn’t reflected this, even if it has been very respectable from a Finnish perspective. Wouldn’t surprise me if he attracted a bit of interest, especially if he gets lucky in front of goal during the Euros.
5 Lukas Hradecky 30 Bayer Leverkusen 2070 GK
Hradecky is probably Finland’s best player at the moment, but he also has the highest profile back-up of Finland’s top players, so becomes slightly more expendable. One of the best goalkeepers in the world.
6 Jesse Joronen 26 Brescia 1890 GK
Joronen is going to be the twelfth guy in the squad, and hopefully won’t play a single minute, because it’ll mean that Finland stay competitive throughout the tournament. If he does play, though, there’s not much of a worry, as he is a more than competent back-up for Hradecky.
7 Tim Sparv 33 FC Midtjylland 586 MC
It’s starting to feel like Sparv’s legs are going a little bit, but he’ll go to the Euros, if only for his leadership qualities. Doesn’t look out of place in the Finnish team, but could be upgraded upon if there was a more dynamic alternative.
8 Paulus Arajuuri 31 Pafos FC 1756 CB
The lovable giant has been a rock for the national team, and suits the current playing style to a tee. If it weren’t for his age, I wouldn’t be surprised if he had a stint in England in him.
9 Joona Toivio 31 BK Häcken CB/RB
Has been a staple for a long time now, will probably be displaced pretty soon, but will likely play just about all available minutes. Might be needed at right back due to Raitala’s potential absence.
10 Lassi Lappalainen 21 Montreal Impact LW
Not sure I can remember a player taking to the national team with the same ease as Lappalainen has. Is maybe the one player who has a bit of X-factor about him (apart from Pukki). His pace will be one of few attacking weapons for Finland, so should get a lot of playing time.
11 Joel Pohjanpalo 25 Hamburger SV 144 ST
Got a crucial loan deal to the second Bundesliga in January. Finland’s attack becomes a completely different animal with a fit Pohjanpalo playing from the start, and if he manages to stay fit, he’s going to be a quick riser, and a pretty certain starter. Would have had him lower during the fall, but he’s playing which means that he’s in contention.
12 Fredrik Jensen 22 Augsburg 455 AMC
Jensen scored a scrappy but important goal against Armenia that settled some nerves last fall, and offers the kind of option the Finland squad lacks. He’s still young and is still waiting for his final breakthrough in the Bundesliga, so it’s easy to forget that he’s one of three Finnish national team players playing in one of the top 5 leagues (not counting Moisander here). If he breaks through, he’ll be one of the most important Finland players of his generation.
13 Sauli Väisänen 25 Chievo 1346 CB
Väisänen took a step down to Serie B and has been a regular since. For the national team, he seems a solid third choice, alongside his brother who is the fourth choice. If Toivio ends up playing significant minutes at right back, he would be the natural next option for the middle.
14 Pyry Soiri 25 Esbjerg 1197 LW
Soiri has been a regular for Kanerva’s national team and will probably go. He has some useful characteristics and has scored some timely goals, but I wonder if he’ll end up being supplanted pretty soon as some more highly touted winger prospects break through.
15 Juha Pirinen 28 Tromsö LB
Pirinen is a good tournament option due to being good with both feet, allowing him to cover both full back positions at a pinch. His first season abroad didn’t go as planned, as Tromsö were relegated, and his position would be under more threat if there were better options coming through, but for now, he’s back up to Uronen and that seems fine.
16 Rasmus Schüller 28 HJK MC
I imagine Schüller and Joni Kauko are third and fourth options for central midfield, but I wonder if Schüller’s move to HJK might end up affecting his chances negatively. If he makes the team, it’ll be more due to a lack of options pushing through from behind.
17 Joni Kauko 29 Esbjerg 1767 MC
Kauko seems well built for the Danish league as he’s a physical presence that can make his presence felt. Is he a good fit for the national team though?
18 Jasse Tuominen 24 BK Häcken ST
I, maybe a little meanly, tweeted that Tuominen’s move to Häcken might expose how he hasn’t really scored with any regularity anywhere yet in his career. Kanerva seems to like him, though, so I’d expect him to be on the plane/train.
19 Simon Skrabb 25 Brescia 27 LW/AMC
Skrabb’s move to Serie A, and what feels like an increase in his usage for the national team should push him ahead of similar-ish players like Petteri Forsell. He tends to look a little lightweight for me, but Kanerva seems to like what he sees.
20 Albin Granlund 30 Örebro RB
Had him in the 30’s before Raitala’s injuries, but claws his way back up. Has been a surprisingly big part of the current Finland setup, and deserves a lot of credit, but he really is something of a weak point when he plays. Is probably too specialised to be selected as a backup, so should only be selected if there are no better alternatives available at right back.
21 Leo Väisänen 22 BK Häcken/Den Bosch 1510 CB
Väisänen’s career has some air under its wings, and has established himself as a regular for the national team, although he has mostly warmed the bench. Doesn’t seem impossible to imagine him being a big part of the next qualifying campaing, and will probably go to the Euros although whether he gets any minutes is doubtful. Whether a team needs four specialist center backs for such a short tournament is up for debate, so if Kanerva wants to go creative, his place on the squad could be replaced by someone more versatile or an extra attacking option.
22 Rasmus Karjalainen 23 Fortuna Sittard 415 CF
Karjalainen isn’t playing much in the Eredivisie, but has been in and around the national team squad. There’s actually quite a bit of competition for the attacking positions beyond Karjalainen so there might be some changes here – Marcus Forss, Benjamin Källman, Onni Valakari to name just a few.
23 Niki Mäenpää 35 Bristol City GK
Three goalkeepers will go, and the third goalkeeper will hopefully not be used at all during the tournament. At the moment, Mäenpää is probably the most experienced candidate, among some decent second/third tier options, even if he hasn’t been playing lately.
24 Markus Halsti 35 Esbjerg 1510 UTIL
Tournament shenanigans usually means that versatile players can come in handy – Halsti is the closest thing to a utility player so might get a stronger look-in than one would expect.
25 Anssi Jaakkola 32 Bristol Rovers 1812 GK
Is one of the best keepers in League One by keeper metrics, but suffered from an injury recently, so is shrouded in uncertainty for the time being. Would likely be the third choice if it weren’t for the injury, so we’ll see what happens.
26 Will Jääskeläinen 21 Crewe 2880 GK
There’s a starting goalkeeper in three of the top four levels of English football, and Jääskeläinen is the youngest of the three. If I were in charge, I’d tie him up quickly to make sure that he plays for Finland rather than England, because if he keeps developing, there’s a risk of him being Carl Jenkinson’d.
27 Niko Hämäläinen 22 Kilmarnock 2340 LB
Hämäläinen’s international future is still a bit unclear, as he’s eligible for the USA as well and has only played in a friendly – to be honest I’m not sure if that settled the issue. Either way, there’s an argument to take him instead of Pirinen, and one that I could see happening.
28 Thomas Lam 26 PEC Zwolle 1052 UTIL
Lam is probably one of the first backups for either center back or center midfield position. If he were to go, I’m not sure he’d play a lot, but his versatility could be valuable.
29 Robert Taylor 25 SK Brann LW
The Finns who played for Tromsö during last year’s campaing ending in relegation have mostly landed on their feet, with Onni Valakari moving to Pafos in the Cypriot league and Taylor moving to Brann. He’s played a periferal role for the national team, but has hung around.
30 Benjamin Källman 21 Haugesund CF
After struggling in Scotland, Källman played decently well in two loan stints in Denmark and Norway. Scored on his competitive debut for Finland in the most typical fashion possible. Remember the way Shefki Kuqi was a good option to have off the bench back in the day? Yeah, that’s Källman.
31 Roman Eremenko 32 FK Rostov 1214 AMC
Will he or won’t he? Should he be taken if he wants to go? I’m unsure, but on quality alone, he walks into the starting eleven.
32 Aapo Halme 21 Barnsley 2043 CB/MC
Halme will probably play a big role in future qualifying campaigns, and is apparently currently thriving in a deep midfield role in the Championship.
33 Petteri Forsell 29 Korona Kielce 360 AMC
Takes a good long shot, which might be valuable in a tournament setting. Recently signed with a team in the Ekstraklasa, so should get a good chance to show he belongs on the plane (train?) but I think there’s a bit of an uphill battle.
34 Onni Valakari 20 Pafos FC 347 AMC
Valakari has been on fire after moving to Cyprus, and is looking like a decent alternative if injuries restricted higher placed options. Should probably have his aim on the next qualification campaign though.
35 Marcus Forss 20 Wimbledon FC 1347 CF
Would have had Forss much higher if A) he’d played one minute for the men’s team or B) he hadn’t suffered a fairly significant injury recently. If he’s fit, I think he should go, but I don’t think he will.
36 Daniel O’Shaughnessy 25 HJK CB/LB
Honestly, I’d take O’Shaughnessy without a doubt. He’s versatile enough, being capable at playing both center back and left back, and he has the kind of flat long throw that you could build a routine around, which I don’t think any other candidate does. He won’t go, but I’d argue he should.
37 Jukka Raitala 31 Montreal Impact RB/LB
Raitala could be a valuable player if only due to being able to cover several positions  across the defensive line. Would probably be first choice right back at the moment, if it weren’t for the fact that he recently got injured and is a major question mark for the tournament.
38 Juhani Ojala 30 Vejle 720 CB
Ojala has had some injury problems, and would otherwise be a more likely addition to the squad as he was seemingly establishing himself as Arajuuri’s primary partner in defense. Has taken a bit of a step back, but is still an experienced quality option if needed.
39 Valtteri Moren 28 Waasland-Beveren 426 CB
Only has four appearences for Finland, even though he’s spent over 5 years in the Belgian league. He hasn’t exactly been a regular, so that might be a reason, but should probably be considered a realistic long shot.
40 Alexander Ring 28 NYCFC MC
Of the recently internationally retired players, Ring is the one I’d want in the squad most, but the one that seemed the most insistent in his retirement. Not a huge fan of the timely coming out of retirement for big tournaments thing, but it tends to happen so we’ll take it into account.
41 Kasper Hämäläinen 33 FK Jablonec 71 RW
42 Kaan Kairinen 21 Lilleström MC
43 Saku Ylätupa 20 AIK AMC
44 Walter Viitala 28 SJK GK
45 Niklas Moisander 34 Werder Bremen 990 CB
46 Jaakko Oksanen 19 Brentford MC
47 Niko Markkula 29 SJK RB
48 Sebastian Dahlström 23 Sheriff Tiraspol MC
49 Perparim Hetemaj 33 Benevento 1554 MC
50 Jari Litmanen 49 N/A 0 AMC


Thanks for reading, give me a follow on Twitter to keep up to date as the list progresses


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