It seems hard to get through a game at Euro 2020 without hearing mention of Atalanta.
Joakim Maehle scored in Denmark’s win over Wales, Matteo Pessina scored what proved to be Italy’s winner against Austria, Marten de Roon was eliminated against the Czech Republic, Mario Pasalic scored a dramatic late leveller against Spain, Remo Freuler’s Switzerland beat world champions France, Robin Gosens’ Germany fell to England and Ruslan Malinovskyi is still to take on Sweden with Ukraine. Of the eight last-16 fixtures, then, Atalanta represented in seven.
Nerazzurri goals at Euro 2020
Maehle and Pessina each have two goals to their names this summer, Gosens and Pasalic have one apiece, and Aleksey Miranchuk – eliminated in the group stage with Russia – got a fine goal of his own.
But it was Gosens’ performance against Portugal that caught the most eyes, and even before the European Championship he was always the most likely player to be the next on his way out of Bergamo.
Arguably the best left-sided player in Europe over the last two seasons, Gosens showed his very best against Portugal. Having a goal ruled out, the flying wing-back did get himself on the scoresheet, assisted another, and only had a second assist robbed of him due to it being an own goal.
Italy’s unlikely hero
Pessina wasn’t even named in Roberto Mancini’s initial 26-man squad, something that raised quite a few eyebrows given how well he has performed with Atalanta over the last year and, before that, on loan at Hellas Verona. But he has slotted in nicely after replacing Lorenzo Pellegrini at the last minute, scoring Italy’s winning goal in consecutive appearances against Wales and then Austria.
Teammate Rafael Toloi was also naturalised just months before the tournament and named in the 26-man squad.
A club on the up
Atalanta’s rise since Gian Piero Gasperini’s 2016 appointment has been breathtaking. From a historically provincial yo-yo club until his arrival in Bergamo, La Dea have been transformed into Champions League regulars – having qualified for their third straight season in Europe’s elite club competition – and have reached the Coppa Italia final twice in the last three seasons as well.
They’ve beaten Liverpool, Valencia, Ajax, Lyon, they’ve hammered Everton, and given both Borussia Dortmund and Manchester City tough times under Gasperini, and now their players are showcasing their talents on the international stage as well.