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Rejuvenated Scamacca seeks Euro glory with Atalanta and Italy

Valerio Pennicino - UEFA / UEFA / Getty

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Gianluca Scamacca will lead the line in Atalanta's bid to reach their first ever European final as the striker's hot form puts him firmly in the frame for Euro 2024.

A classic centre-forward, Scamacca has had an up-and-down first season back in Italy with Atalanta but is in the form of his life on the eve of Thursday's second leg of their Europa League semi-final with Marseille.

The 25-year-old has scored 10 times and set up another in his last 12 matches, and his fizzing low finish last week ensured Atalanta came away from the Stade Velodrome with a 1-1 draw after having their backs to the wall for large parts of the first leg in southern France.

He will be the focal point of Atalanta's exciting attack in front of passionate home fans in Bergamo who have once again seen their traditionally provincial club punch way above its weight.

Scamacca has scored 18 goals in all competitions this term with the bulk of those strikes coming after he was left out of the Italy squad for March's friendlies with Venezuela and Ecuador.

He was dumped by Luciano Spalletti after the Azzurri coach, in a February interview with the Gazzetta Dello Sport, blasted footballers "playing on the PlayStation until four in the morning".

Spalletti named no names in an unexpected tirade against modern players' apparently flagging commitment to football but eyes immediately turned towards Scamacca, who was left out despite Italy having a long-standing problem of finding reliable strikers.

'Chit-chat and rumour'

Scamacca, from Rome, has a roughneck presence due to his size and array of tattoos and has had to deal with embarrassing headlines involving his family. 

In March 2021 his estranged father smashed up cars -- including one belonging to the police -- outside Roma's training ground for no apparent reason and a few months later his grandfather burst into a bar in Scamacca's childhood neighbourhood of Fidene and threatened people with a knife.

"I've had to deal with prejudice since I was 16-years-old but I know what kind of person I am, and I only need to show it to the people who care about me," Scamacca said after scoring in Atalanta's 3-0 win at Napoli in March.

"I don't give any importance to chit-chat and rumour."

Scamacca's form has come at a perfect time for both club and country, as Italy defend their European Championship title in Germany this summer after missing out on a second consecutive World Cup.

Atalanta meanwhile, whose trophy cabinet contains seven lower league titles and the 1963 Italian Cup, are looking to go one better than in 1988 when they reached the last four of the Cup Winners' Cup as a Serie B team.

Gian Piero Gasperini's side have, like Scamacca, been inconsistent for much of the season but are eyeing a historic climax to the campaign, with a Italian Cup final with Juventus coming up next week and Champions League qualification also up for grabs.

Scamacca netted in Atalanta's hard-fought win at relegated Salernitana on Monday which moved his team into Serie A's fifth and final spot for Europe's elite club competition.

The next fortnight will decide whether Atalanta finally win a trophy which would be just reward for years of investment and development which have taken Atalanta from nowhere to the brink of European glory.

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