The Italian Women’s National Team has finally returned to the global stage of the Women’s World Cup after a 20-year absence, part of a general revolution in women’s soccer in the country, as reported by The Guardian. The sport has grown massively in popularity in recent years, with attendance records being set for clubs and members of the national team becoming stars in the country. That is due in no small part to the recent success of the team, which had a dominant performance in qualifying as they topped their groups while giving up only four goals. The defense is the strength of this team, as their organization on the pitch and talent may be enough to overcome some of the team’s weaknesses.
The squad is relatively young, with the lack of international matches for some of the squad causing concern. The fact that nearly the entire Italian team plays their club matches in Italy, with captain Sara Gama, defender Elena Linari, striker Ilaria Mauro, and goalkeeper Laura Giuliani the only players with any type of experience playing outside of their home country, may lead to some issues when they come up against unfamiliar styles in the tournament.
Manager Milena Bertolini will be bringing in a team that will be playing without pressure and performing with a fluid style with a formation that could change on a dime depending on the circumstances with talented midfielders Barbara Bonansea, Valentina Cernoia, Aurora Galli, and Manuela Giugliano dictating the attack.
Bonansea is arguably the most talented member of the team and her strengths perfectly define the character of the Italian squad. Capable of dominating while playing as a midfielder or as a left or right winger, Bonansea operates with a positionless flow on the pitch and provides a consistent goal threat. Cristiana Girelli, Valentina Giacinti, Mauro and Daniela Sabatino are all talented strikers, which could provide as much of a selection headache for Bertolini as a matchup headache for the opposition.
After an extended absence, in some ways, Italy can be content in making it back to the World Cup for the first time since 1999. With a group that contains world powers Brazil and Australia, it will be difficult to see Italy topping the group regardless of their fine form. Still, Italy has come too far and has too much soccer history to simply take part. After not making it to the knockout stages of the tournament since the inaugural edition in 1991, Italy will be looking to cement their renaissance with a long-awaited return.