If Paris is the city of love, then France is the country of WAGs. Fashion shows, gala dinners, VIP events, yachts, food, runways, parties, sport, music – nothing exudes the virtues of modern day celebrity culture like the nation that gave New York the Statue of Liberty.
This European Championships in 2016 kicks off on Friday evening as millions of fans around the region descend on a location keen to show the world how magnificent and resilient they are.
Since the Charlie Hebdo and November 2015 terrorist attacks that gripped France with fear and trepidation, soccer fans remain cautiously optimistic. Coming through these atrocities, the people are made of stern stuff and live by the motto: “Qui vivra verra” – he who lives shall see.
Judging by this class of wives and girlfriends of the 24 nations competing at the tournament, there is plenty to feast the eyes upon. Models, actresses, singers, news presenters – an array of continental talent and beauty. If the football is half as decent, it will be well worth staying up, or getting up, early for.
With the Copa America reaching beyond the South American bubble for the first time in their history, the Euro 2016 edition is newly expanded. Traditionally only 16 of the elite sides in Europe have had the privilege of making it to the grand stage, now minnows like Iceland, Northern Ireland, Albania and Wales are going to be mixing it with the big boys.
The equation therefore is pretty simple - a broader tent makes for more WAGs. Europe is brimming with gorgeous women and this season will demonstrate why it is such a sought after destination for tourists and travelers alike. Here for your viewing pleasure are the 20 hottest WAGs of Euro 2016.
20 Raquel Mauri (Ivan Rakitic)
The story goes that Ivan Rakitic went to a local café in Spain in 2014, contemplating a move from Europa League winners Sevilla to Barcelona. As he ordered a cup of coffee, he took a liking to the waitress, a young lady by the name of Raquel Mauri. The Croatian midfielder made two life changing decisions that night – to make the switch and to get Raquel’s phone number. The two are now a permanent item and Mauri will be backing her man to fire Croatia through the group of death featuring Turkey, the Czech Republic and the home of his family, Spain.
19 Claudine Keane (Robbie Keane)
If husband Robbie Keane was in any doubt about moving to Los Angeles to play for the Galaxy in the MLS, model wife Claudine would have nudged his signature on the contract in no time at all. The blonde bombshell is made for Hollywood and struts her way along the red carpet at the drop of a hat. This will surely be Robbie’s last major tournament representing the Republic of Ireland as the record goal scorer has a huge mountain to climb to help his nation get through ahead of the more favored Sweden, Italy and Belgium.
18 Ana Ivanovic (Bastian Schweinsteiger)
Yep – that is Ana Ivanovic. Manchester United midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger hooked up with the former world number one tennis pro to create something of a super European couple that the tabloids in Serbia and Germany cannot get enough of. Funnily enough, both careers have kind of followed a similar path, as Bastian’s soccer career has nosedived from his heroics with Bayern Munich. He is selected by Germany on his vast experience and guidance of a young group rather than his 2016 performances, while Ana is still hoping to rediscover her title winning form on the court before dropping down the Grand Slam pecking order.
17 Marina Luczenko (Wojciech Szczesny)
If the Polish people weren’t gripped with Euro fever, Marina Luczenko might be more talked about around town than her hubby Wojciech Szczesny. The pair are likened to ‘Posh and Becks’ in Poland, with the Arsenal goalkeeper hooking up with an incredibly famous recording artist on the continent some years ago. Both Szczesny’s club and country future is in limbo, having spent the 2015/16 campaign out on loan to AS Roma as well as competing heavily with Lukasz Fabianksi for the gloves in Euro qualifying.
16 Andriani Michael (Jack Wilshere)
Since splitting from wife Lauren Neal, Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere has hooked up with brunette beauty Andriani Michael. The England man is a hot topic of debate across the pond, having spent a vast majority of the 2015/16 season out injured yet again and only making a handful of first team appearances at the back end of the campaign. Wilshere is regularly found out late at night and photographed in compromising positions, so Adriani might have to play babysitter as much as a girlfriend during the tournament.
15 Anna Lewandowska (Robert Lewandowksi)
Life is pretty damn good for Poland striker Robert Lewandowski. The Bayern Munich striker won a domestic double in Germany and speculation with a move away to Real Madrid will only help to add more zeros to a fat contract. Throw in his marriage to the gorgeous 27-year old Anna Lewandowska and there really isn’t much to complain about. The Poles will be heavily leaning on Robert for goals and creativity in their Group C fixtures, but if he gets on a run then the Golden Boot award might be in his grasp.
14 Ludivine Kadri Sagna (Bacary Sagna)
French television personalities don’t come hotter than Ludivine Kadri Sagna. The brunette is hugely popular on social media for obvious reasons as Manchester City and French fullback Bacary Sagna has truly outdone himself. Ludivine followed her man from his switch away from Arsenal where Bacary pocketed a big pay day. He will be starting for France in the right back position, although his club future will be doubt with incoming manager Pep Guardiola preferring more dynamic and versatile footballers than Sagna. Whether he stays or goes, he’ll have Ludivine by his side.
13 Alexandra Ivarsdottir (Gylfi Sigurdsson)
Iceland is making history at Euro 2016. The smallest nation ever to compete in the tournament, the tiny Nordic nation has finally established itself as a serious soccer country on the back of qualification. Their best player is Swansea City midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson, an established English Premier League footballer whose dead ball skills and creativity are the key cog in the Iceland machine. His exploits on the pitch won the admiration of Miss Iceland 2008 winner Alexandra Ivarsdottir, a blonde model that heats up a very chilly part of the world.
12 Noemie Happart (Yannick Carrasco)
As the UEFA Champions League Final was coming to a close, Atletico Madrid madly scrambled to secure an equalizer. With time ticking down, substitute winger Yannick Carrasco scored at the San Siro and ran away to the sidelines in hysteria. The Belgian star was passionately kissing a cute blonde amid the celebrations, a blonde who happened to be his partner Noemie Happart. The model and beauty pageant is a jewel in the crown of the small European nation and if the country and Carrasco can live up to their number one ranking, there will be plenty of action on and off the pitch should Belgium go all the way.
11 Veronica Ciardi (Federico Bernadeschi)
The common consensus surrounding this 2016 Italian side is unanimous – it is not as good as squads from the past. Coming in with a lack of fanfare and quality hasn’t stopped the Azzurri from winning major silverware before, but this time the pessimism appears justified. One of the players who could make Italy a threat is Florentine striker Federico Bernadeschi, with the 22-year old forward one of a handful of footballers arriving in France with form and fitness. Neither of those things are lacking in his brunette partner Veronica Ciardi, with the model becoming a viral sensation in the European fashion stakes.
10 Pilar Rubio (Sergio Ramos)
If opposites attract, then how can we explain Pilar Rubio and Sergio Ramos? The Spanish couple are both extravagant extroverts that love the camera and paparazzi, so they might prove to be the exception to the rule. The 38-year old television presenter is beloved in Madrid as much as her husband on the white side of the city. Ramos is the beating heart of Real Madrid and Spain, always popping up in crucial moments at big games for club and country. They are the established golden couple of Madrid until their collective retirements.
9 Edurne Garcia (David de Gea)
Triple threat Edurne Garcia is a catch goalkeeper David de Gea will not be letting fall through his grip anytime soon. The gorgeous 30-year old blonde is a television presenter, actress and singer and it’s any wonder she struggles to go to every Manchester United and Spain game her partner plays in. Speculation about de Gea’s future away from Old Trafford came agonizingly close to departing for Real Madrid 12 months ago and Edurne is one of the key figures for the player wanting to go back to their native Spain. Jose Mourinho might hold a lot of power when it comes to deciding his roster for next season, but Garcia holds all the cards in this relationship.
8 Sam Cooke (Chris Smalling)
A lot of WAGs tend to look after their own affairs and go about their private business as per usual, then there are the WAGs that flaunt their prowess. Manchester United and England defender Chris Smalling’s lady is very much a case of the latter, with Sam Cooke posing for photo shoots in lingerie covers multiple times across various publications. The Three Lions only have three central defenders and will need Smalling to be at his imposing best if they are to make a mark at Euro 2016. The key for England will be eliminating as many distractions as possible and if we’re honest, Sam Cooke will not be helping on that front.
7 Sara Carbonero (Iker Casillas)
The definition of the word ‘compromised’ is surely a sports journalist discussing the performance of her husband on the field. Sara Carbonero worked in close quarters with Spanish goalkeeper Iker Casillas at Real Madrid, seeing her hubby go from champion number one and club icon to maligned and derided footballer in the space of one season. The 32-year old has stuck by Casillas despite his falling stock. Just don’t ask Carbonero to analyze his game because the brunette beauty is not exactly neutral on the topic.
6 Colleen Ramsey (Aaron Ramsey)
Wales can count their soccer stars on one hand. Ask some fans and they will argue it is more like two fingers. Along with Gareth Bale, Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey is a crucial asset to the nation that has not gone to a major tournament since 1958, so they will want to make the most of it. The man they call ‘Rambo’ in North London has endured a difficult domestic campaign but will be hoping to thrive in France with the beautiful Colleen by his side. The blonde will catch the eye, particularly if she wears the red get-up she made famous during one photo shoot. Hey, it does match the Welsh colors!
5 Montana Yorke (Andre Schurrle)
Much like her partner Andre Schurrle, Montana Yorke goes about her business under the radar just happy to play a part. The German is a regular on the social pages online and the newspaper tabloids, going back to her native country with Andre when Wolfsburg picked him up from a short and uneventful stint in England with Chelsea. Schurrle is one of the few German forwards capable of scoring regular goals and while a lot of his work will go unnoticed, Montana will be his constant cheering him in the stands.
4 Daniella Semaan (Cesc Fabregas)
Curvaceous Lebanese brunette Daniella Semaan isn’t fussed about club loyalties, all she cares about is her man Cesc Fabregas. The Spanish midfielder is lucky to be in France on the back of a horrendous 2015/16, putting in a poor campaign while allegedly pushing Jose Mourinho out the door at Stamford Bridge by leaking inside information to the press. He turned Arsenal fans off, left Barcelona in a huff and comes to the defending European champions with a point to prove. Not the happiest of situations, but when you’re shacked up with someone as amazing as Daniella Semaan and earning hundreds of thousands a week to kick a ball around, you just have to shrug and think haters are going to hate.
3 Ann-Kathrin Brommel (Mario Gotze)
German couple Ann-Kathrin Brommel and Mario Gotze arouse suspicion in the most explicit of fashions. In 2015, the gorgeous model suffered a wardrobe malfunction, imitating Janet Jackson at the Super Bowl. This came after the couple were photographed on holidays after the 2014 World Cup success, with Mario Gotze being snapped at full mast in his underwear. Since scoring the decisive goal for Germany in the World Cup Final two years ago, his domestic fortunes have not proved as fruitful at Bayern Munich. He will be hoping a return to the international arena will give him the focus to concentrate on delivering at the key moment, should he focus on the football and not the dalliances on the beach with wife Brommel.
2 Viktoria Varga (Graziano Pelle)
Graziano Pelle is a good striker, not a great one, just a good one. His partner Viktoria Varga on the other hand? Forget about it. The Southampton forward will start up front for Italy as no other suitors presented themselves prior to the tournament, much like his relationship with the stunning model Varga. Her Instagram posts speak for themselves frankly and given her connections in the fashion world, the managerial vacancy on the south coast of England could easily open the door back to a more exotic location, potentially back to Italy.
1 Shakira (Gerard Pique)
In a competition of hottest WAGs featuring European football stars, only one entry was ever going to take the top honor. Pop star Shakira hooked up with Barcelona and Spain defender Gerard Pique six years ago, solidifying a famous tabloid relationship spanning Europe and South America. The 2012 champions will need Pique at his best, with the side arriving off the back of an unconvincing qualification as well as a humiliating group stage exit at Brazil 2014. Shakira might be more interested in coming to the US to support her native Colombia in the Copa America instead, but if Spain can match their talent and get to the final of Euro 2016, the recording artist will have time for both.