June 2 – From playing padel with frying pans to a rap battle between players before the entire squad sang Italy’s iconic national anthem, Italy took their Euro 2020 squad announcement to the next level and coach Roberto Mancini sprang a surprise, naming Sassuolo’s uncapped striker Giacomo Raspadori in his final 26-man for the finals.
Raspadori completes a trio of strikers who will have to deliver goals for Italy in the tournament. He will be behind both Lazio’s Ciro Immobile and Torino’s Andrea Belotti in the pecking order, but Raspadori enjoyed a breakout season, scoring six goals in 27 Serie A matches. The Sassuolo striker has however never played in a competitive senior match for the Azzurri.
There was no room for AS Roma defender Gianluca Mancini, Atalanta midfielder Matteo Pessina or Napoli winger Matteo Politano. Brazil-born Atalanta defender Rafael Toloi did make the final list.
In a two-hour show on RAI 1, manager Mancini gave the presenter a letter and the presenter read the name of all the players called up one-by-one. Veteran defender Giorgio Chiellini will captain Italy at Euro 2020. The Italians return to a major tournament five years on from a run to the quarter-finals of Euro 2016 after they failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. They will play Turkey, Wales and Switzerland in Group A. Mancini’s team open the tournament on June 11 in Rome against Senol Gunes’ Turkey.
Italy have been undefeated for 26 games. They trashed San Marino 7-0 in a recent warmup match and on Friday they take on the Czech Republic, but question marks remain despite their fine form. How will they fare against stronger opposition? Italy cruised through the qualifiers with ten wins from ten, but opposition in their group was modest.
Italy Euro 2020 squad:
Goalkeepers:Gianluigi Donnarumma (Milan), Alex Meret (Napoli), Salvatore Sirigu (Torino)
Defenders:Francesco Acerbi (Lazio), Alessandro Bastoni (Inter), Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus), Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus), Giovanni Di Lorenzo (Napoli), Emerson Palmieri (Chelsea), Alessandro Florenzi (Paris St Germain), Leonardo Spinazzola (Roma), Rafael Toloi (Atalanta)
Midfielders: Nicolo Barella (Inter), Bryan Cristante (Roma), Jorginho (Chelsea), Manuel Locatelli (Sassuolo), Lorenzo Pellegrini (Roma), Stefano Sensi (Inter), Marco Verratti (Paris St Germain)
Forwards:Andrea Belotti (Torino), Domenico Berardi (Sassuolo), Federico Bernardeschi (Juventus), Federico Chiesa (Juventus), Ciro Immobile (Lazio), Lorenzo Insigne (Napoli), Giacomo Raspadori (Sassuolo)
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