Missing in action: Euro 2016 without big names

Europe's best players line up this month for the European Championship in France

It would be easy to build a few strong team of star players missing out on the four-yearly tournament after failing to make the finalists' squads released by European governing body UEFA on Wednesday.

Injuries have taken their toll, but sometimes loss of form or a coaching preference means players who have shone at their clubs the past season stay at home.

In the case of France and Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema, legal action has led to his omission by coach Didier Deschamps in a decision taken in conjunction with the French Football Federation FFF.

Benzema, 28, was suspended in December after being charged with conspiracy to blackmail relating to an investigation into an attempt to extort money from his France team-mate Mathieu Valbuena using a sex tape.

Benzema will now miss a second major tournament after being left out of France's 2010 World Cup squad, while Valbuena is also absent.

France also have no place for Liverpool defender Mamadou Sakho, who was left out after a drugs-related suspension, while defenders Raphael Varane (Real Madrid), Kurt Zouma (Chelsea) and Jeremy Mathieu (Barcelona) are injured. Nice's former Newcastle winger Hatem Ben Arfa was overlooked, while Bayern Munich winger Franck Ribery has now retired from international duty.

And Marseille's Lassana Diarra misses out after being substituted with injury in a France friendly against Cameroon just hours before the UEFA deadline for submitting final squads.

Some of the top teams including world champions Germany, Italy and England are missing injured players who would have made their final squads.

Germany are without the Borussia Dortmund duo Ilkay Guendogan and Marco Reus through injuries - after they both also missed the 2014 World Cup with injuries - while erstwhile captain Philipp Lahm has retired from internationals.

Coach Joachim Loew was reluctant to leave out attacking midfielder Reus but there was no clear indication a groin injury would clear up.

"It was a painful decision for both us and him and a real disappointment for everyone. A fit Marco Reus in good form would have been a huge asset for our team," he said.

Italy have also major losses in midfield where they are without Paris Saint-Germain lynchpin Marco Verratti as well as Juventus midfielder Claudio Marchisio and AC Milan's Riccardo Montolivo.

Some other big names now absent from the Azzurri squad are Andrea Pirlo, a 2006 world champion, and Mario Balotelli, who made his mark at Euro 2012 but is no longer in coach Antonio Conte's plans.

Italy defender Leonardo Bonucci believes Balotelli, on loan with AC Milan from Liverpool, needs a change of attitude if he wants to revive his career.

"He would have been useful to this team, but there's no time for us to be prima donnas, we have to be tanks that sacrifice themselves for their team-mates," he said.

England have players returning from injury but are still missing the likes of the Manchester United's Luke Shaw and the Arsenal duo Danny Welbeck and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, while Arsenal's Theo Walcott, a surprise England selection at 17 for the 2006 World Cup, has been overlooked.

England's group opponents Russia are meanwhile without injured CSKA Moscow striker Alan Dzagoev and defender Yuri Zhirkov (Zenit St Petersburg), and have omitted all-time top scorer Alexander Kerzhakov.

Euro 2016 will also be missing players from nations who failed to get through qualifying, with the Dutch stars of Arjen Robben, Robin van Persie, Klaas Jan Huntelaar and others watching from the outside.

Serbia's absence means no place for Premier League players such as Chelsea's Nemanja Matic or the Manchester City pair Aleksandar Kolarov and Branislav Ivanovic.

Manchester City central defender Vincent Kompany and Portugal left-back Fabio Coentrao are also sidelined, while Liverpool defender Dejan Lovren has not been included in Croatia's squad.

Among the top players whose teams did not make it are Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Christian Eriksen (Denmark), Leicester City keeper Kasper Schmeichel (Denmark), Roma striker Edin Dzeko and club team-mate Miralem Pjanic (both Bosnia-Herzegovina) and Dortmund's midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan (Armenia).

European champions Spain could field a winning team of top players who have not made Vicente del Bosque's squad.

Midfielders Isco of Real Madrid and Saul of Atletico Madrid were left out of Spain's 23-man party, while Real right-back Dani Carvajal is injured.

They join the already discarded Diego Costa (Chelsea), Fernando Torres (Atletico Madrid), Juan Mata (Manchester United), Jesus Navas (Manchester City) Arsenal's Nacho Monreal and Santi Cazorla and the Bayern Munich duo Javi Marztinez and Juan Bernat among others.

Last update: Wed, 01/06/2016 - 11:34
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