The winter break is over. And like a slumbering bear (or just a disheveled uni student, which is the same thing really), we stumble out of hibernation, and shuffle back to our daily lives.
Our next match will be against Serie A debutantes Empoli. It will take place this Sunday, at 14:30 p.m. CEST.
Empoli, for all intents and purposes, are tough customers. I watched them pin back Juventus during their season opener, and the one thing that stuck out to me the most during the match, was how they played relentlessly, and without fear.
The final score was 2-1, but that doesn’t tell the whole story.
The women of Empoli didn’t play like a newly promoted side. Instead, they played like Juve’s equals. They relentlessly pressed Juve and even pinned them back during stretches of the game, and it looked like the Biancoblu were going to end the game with a point, and maybe even win the whole thing as well.
In the end, Juve’s quality was too much for them, and it was Arianna Caruso, the belle of the debutante ball, who rescued them at the 71st minute.
The Tuscans were perhaps rather fortunate that they managed to catch Juve three days after their Champions League defeat to Barcelona. The game must have left the Bianconere spent, and it did so to the Blaugrana as well (evident by how Barça tied Rayo Vallecano 1-1 during a league game, just four days later).
However, that game has always resonated with me, mainly because the way they played was a declaration from the Tuscans that they are in fact, here to say. They aren’t afraid of anyone, and they can rumble with the best of them.
L Football has nicknamed the Toscano side the ‘ragazze terribili’, and they seem to embody that moniker in its most Rimbaudian sense. There must be something in the Tuscan character that makes them so incredibly tough (thus explaining why Alia Guagni is the way she is), and Empoli will surely give us a hard time when the play them.
Currently, they are seventh on the Serie A table, while we are fourth (with a game in hand).
Other things of note:
Lady Andrade, Deborah Salvatori Rinaldi and Lidija Kuliš, are all out due to injuries. As a result of this, Maurizio Ganz will most likely start Miriam Longo, who has been one of the revelations of the season. Miriam has been impressive so far, as she’s ‘entered the game well’, each time she’s been substituted into a match. She’s been a spark plug that has given Milan moments of light, during the intervals where they’ve needed it the most. One must also recall her goal 19 seconds into the game against Inter as well.
Regardless of who starts, expect Milan to play their usual 4-3-3 and to use their speed, along with their effectiveness on set-pieces, to their advantage.
Milan are currently fourth on the Serie A table, but that’s only because our game against Pink Bari was postponed. If we are to resume our place near the top of the Serie A standings and most importantly, qualify for next season’s Champions League, then we must win this game.
Empoli won’t make it easy for us, but doing things the easy way is never fun.
Here’s to hoping we can secure all three points after what is sure to be a hard fought challenge.
Possible Formation and Line-up: (4-3-3) Korenčiová; Hovland, Vitale, Fusetti, Tucceri Cimini; Heroum, Jane, Čonč; Bergamaschi, Giacinti, Longo
When: Sunday, January 12th at 14:30 (8:30 a.m. EST / 5:30 a.m. PST)
Where: Stadio Brianteo di Monza in Monza, Italy.