Brazilians Representing Italy at Euro 2020

Italy might be one of the top sides in the Euro 2020 tournament so far but we can’t ignore the fact that some Brazilian-born players have been influential in their impressive campaign so far.

Italy have thrown themselves to the front of the queue of Euro 2020 favourites due to their scintillating performances with seven goals scored and none conceded. Their 100% record from the group stage is correct with their current run of a record 30 games unbeaten.

The Azzurri will take on Austria in the Round of 16 and will be confident in their hopes of making it to at least the Last Eight. Roberto Mancini’s winning machine will take some stopping in the European Championship.

They are playing beautiful football; with world class attacking options, arguably the most efficient midfield combination this summer and a backline that is brimming with experience and immense talent.

In order to go all the way and win just their second Euros this summer, however, Azzurri will be counting on a number of Brazilian-born talents.

It is not new that national teams have become globalized, with the presence of several players born and raised in other parts of the world.

Diego Costa (Spain), Pepe and Deco (Portugal) are some who were born in Brazil, the five-time World Champions, but chose to play for another country.

Likewise in Italy, the case of Thiago Motta draws attention. Born in São Paulo, he played for Barcelona and even emerged in Brazil’s under-19 to under-23 teams. Motta would go on to represent Italy in three tournaments including an unfortunate injury as a substitute in the Euro 2012 Final.

Brazil-borns take up three slots in Italy’s Euro 2020 squad and the trio of Jorginho, Emerson Palmieri and Rafael Tolói all started the 1-0 win in their final group game against Wales.

All three bear differing roles in the squad and will surely have to pull together to go better than Italy’s second place finish in 2012.

Jorginho

Fresh from winning the Champions League last month, the Chelsea maestro is one of the Azzurri’s key men.

Born in Imbituba, Brazil, Jorginho moved to Italy at the age of 15, and began his professional career with Verona. He cut his football teeth in Italy with spells at Sambonifacese and Napoli where he developed his unique talent and earned a £50 million move to Chelsea in 2018.

Having made his international debut in 2016, the Regista has been essential to Italy’s dominance in the group stage, as his Brazilian roots and Italian ancestry are oftentimes apparent in his crisp passing and football intelligence.

Indeed, Mancini’s men are stronger with the composed midfielder’s technique and reading of the game. He dictates the tempo of the game and gives them a platform to overwhelm their opposition.

Already one of the standouts of the tournament so far, Jorginho’s winning mentality would also be essential in pushing teammates over the line.

Emerson Palmieri

Jorginho’s club teammate was born in Santos, São Paulo, and completed his formative football years in Santos’ youth categories before appearing for the first team alongside Neymar and Ganso.

He moved to Italy on loan with Palermo in 2014 and made it his home, joining Roma for another three years.

Emerson played for his native Brazil during the 2011 South American U-17 Championship and the victorious 2011 FIFA U-17 World Cup as an ever-present. Due to his Italian ancestry he later declared his desire to represent Italy, having been granted Italian citizenship in 2017, and finally made his senior debut for the Azzurri in September 2018.

Emerson currently has 16 caps for Italy and his athleticism, technique and attacking threat from left-back have been a staple for Mancini. Although the 26-year-old is second choice to the impressive Leonardo Spinazzola at the Euros, Emerson is a fantastic professional and will be an asset whenever he steps on the pitch.

Rafael Tolói

The 30-year-old represented his native country internationally at the under-20 level in 2009, but switched allegiance at the senior grade to Italy.

A strong, defensive right-back, Tolói was born in Glória d’Oeste, Mato Grosso, and he started playing for Goiás in 2008. He moved to giants São Paulo FC where he spent 18 months and won the Copa Sudamericana in 2012 alongside Lucas Moura, Willian José and Rogério Ceni.

Tolói’s exploits earned the now-regular route to Italy with Roma on loan in January 2014. His Italian adventure resumed a year later as he signed for Atalanta in his ancestral land. His longevity and commitment to the La Dea cause earned him the club’s captaincy at the start of 2021 when his Italian citizenship was confirmed.

Having made his international debut three months before the European Championship, Tolói is an important member of the squad as he is accustomed to being a centre-back in Atalanta’s traditional 3-5-2 formation, but can also play at right full-back.

His availability has already bore fruit at the Euros as he came into the side at right-back for the second group game and assisted Ciro Immobile for his goal in the 3-0 win over Switzerland.

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