Tolói and Pessina in Roberto Mancini's squad for Euros
Atalanta players Rafael Tolói and Matteo Pessina have made history with their selection for the Italy squad for the delayed 2020 European football championships, which opens on Friday with the Azzurri facing Turkey at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome.
Defender Tolói and midfielder Pessina are the first players from the Bergamo team to be named as part of the Italy squad in any of the 10 European championships in which the national team has participated since the tournament was launched in 1968.
|Brazilian-born Rafael Tolói qualified|
to play for Italy earlier this year
With Gasperini in charge, they have finished third in Serie A for three seasons in a row as well as reaching the Coppa Italia final twice.
Tolói, who can play as a centre back or a full back and is La Dea’s club captain, was born in Brazil and represented his country of birth at Under-20 level.
But he has played in Italy since 2014 and qualified for an Italian passport earlier this year after more than five years of residency, after which Azzurri manager Roberto Mancini called him up in March, giving him his debut aged 30 in the World Cup qualifying match against Lithuania on March 31.
He made a total of 42 appearances for Atalanta in the season just ended, scoring two goals.
La Dea signed him from Sao Paulo of Brazil in 2015 for €3.5 million in 2015 after he spent half of the previous season on loan with Roma.
Midfielder Pessina, aged 24 and born just 40km (25 miles) from Bergamo in Monza, north of Milan, joined Atalanta from AC Milan in 2017 and spent two of his first two seasons with the nerazzurri out on loan, first with La Spezia and then Hellas Verona.
|Matteo Pessina replaces the|
injured Stefano Sensi
He became a regular for La Dea in the season just ended, making 39 appearances.
After playing for his country at Under-20 and Under-21 level, Pessina made his debut for Italy’s senior team on November 11, 2020, featuring as a substitute in a 4–0 friendly win against Estonia in Florence. He scored his first goals for the Azzurri in a home friendly against San Marino in May, 2021, netting twice in a 7-0 victory.
Named in Mancini’s preliminary squad for Euro 2020, he was initially left out of the final 26-man selection but reinstated after an injury to Inter Milan’s Stefano Sensi.
The tournament, postponed last summer because of Covid-19, is being played in 11 different countries in a major change from the usual format, which traditionally has seen all the games staged in one or sometimes two host nations.
Drawn with Switzerland and Wales as well as Turkey, Italy will play all their group matches in Rome, which will also host one of the quarter-finals.
Both semi-finals and the July 11 final are being staged at Wembley Stadium in London.
Bookmakers in England think that France and England are the favourites to win the competition, with Italy tipped to reach the quarter-finals, perhaps the semi-finals.