Montolivo out as Italy squad revealed in glitzy ceremony

ROME (AP) AC Milan captain Riccardo Montolivo was left out of Italy's squad for the European Championship on Tuesday after failing to recover from injury in time, but fellow midfielder Thiago Motta was judged fit enough to be included in the 23-man squad.

There were already question marks over Montolivo's fitness and the 31-year-old pulled up during a training session Sunday with a calf strain.

It is another bout of bad luck for Montolivo, who missed out on the 2014 World Cup after breaking his leg during the final warm-up match before the tournament.

Italy is already without injured midfielders Claudio Marchisio and Marco Verratti.

''We reflected a lot and we chose the best, I think, at least for me,'' coach Antonio Conte said.

''It wasn't easy from a human point of view to leave out lads who have shown they are great men apart from being footballers. I'm sad to leave at home guys who have given everything in these two years, but you have to make choices.''

Conte announced his final squad in a glitzy, live television show, which included former coach Marcello Lippi, who steered Italy to World Cup success in 2006.

All the selected players arrived in blue Fiat Pandas and each player was later presented individually on stage, with several being shown video messages from friends and family.

Southampton forward Graziano Pelle, a former champion dancer, was also forced into showing off his moves, partnered by a scantily-dressed female dancer.

The players then left on a coach to Rome's train station, from where they will travel to their Coverciano training camp, near Florence. Italy plays a final friendly on Monday, against Finland, before flying to France.

There were few surprises in the squad although Napoli's Brazilian-born midfielder Jorginho was one of the seven players omitted.

Fellow midfielders Marco Benassi, Davide Zappacosta and Giacomo Bonaventura were also dropped, along with defenders Davide Astori and Daniele Rugani.

''We have a great responsibility, that of representing our country, which is passionate about football,'' said World-Cup winning goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, who will again captain the Azzurri. ''We have won four World Cups, a European Championship, so we're a benchmark team.

''We're not going through our best period. But maybe when no one expects anything, you can sometimes manage to bring out more than you thought you had - and surprise people.''

Buffon will be aided in his attempts to shut out opposing teams by a defense which includes three of his Juventus teammates: Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini. The other defender in the squad is Angelo Ogbonna.

Eight of the 23 players have never played in a major tournament. The only other World Cup winner is Daniele De Rossi, who admitted he feared not making the squad.

''I have been in the Italy side for many years and for maybe the first time I was scared about not being part of this group,'' De Rossi said. ''Instead I did it, and it's a great joy to be here.''

Conte has elected to take five forwards to the tournament in France: with Brazilian-born Eder and Graziano Pelle - as the likely starters - plus Ciro Immobile, Lorenzo Insigne and Simone Zaza.

Italy is in Group E, one of the toughest, at Euro 2016. It opens against Belgium on June 13, before playing Sweden four days later and Ireland on June 22.

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Italy:

Goalkeepers: Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus), Federico Marchetti (Lazio), Salvatore Sirigu (Paris Saint-Germain)

Defenders: Andrea Barzagli (Juventus), Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus), Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus), Angelo Ogbonna (West Ham)

Midfielders: Federico Bernardeschi (Fiorentina), Antonio Candreva (Lazio), Matteo Darmian (Manchester United), Mattia De Sciglio (AC Milan), Stephan El Shaarawy (Roma), Daniele De Rossi (Roma), Alessandro Florenzi (Roma), Emanuele Giaccherini (Bologna), Thiago Motta (Paris Saint-Germain), Marco Parolo (Lazio), Stefano Sturaro (Juventus)

Forwards: Eder (Inter Milan), Ciro Immobile (Torino), Lorenzo Insigne (Napoli), Graziano Pelle (Southampton), Simone Zaza (Juventus)

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