The draw was made yesterday, at around 12 p.m. CEST (3 a.m. PST, a.k.a my time, and believe me when I say that I had to feign off sleep in order to be awake for this).
The cup is a tournament that is held annually, starting with the very first tournament back in 1994. It is also considered to be among the most prestigious tournaments in women’s football, due to the strength of the teams that have participated in it.
Italy were rather fortunate to have been drawn against a favorable opponent, who just happen to be the hosts of the said tournament as well. They will also be on the ‘easier’ side of the bracket too, as - assuming they get past the Seleção Feminina - they will then have to face either Belgium or New Zealand in the semis, before eventually making their way to the final.
Don’t get me wrong though, it’s not as if the Italian women can’t beat any of these teams. Rather, I’m of the belief that Italy can just about beat anyone on their best day. It is however, the belief that they may not in fact, catch these teams on one of those said best days, that propels me to express this statement of relief. Also, having to avoid the heavy hitters early on means that the team will expend less energy, which will be vital if they are to make their way to the final, and even have the prospect of winning it.
Sure to be among the protagonists for Italy during this tournament are AC Milan’s very own Laura Fusetti, Linda Tucceri Cimini, Valentina Bergamaschi and of course, Valentina Giacinti. The players who have been pivotal for Italy during their Euro 2021 qualifying campaign, and who were the protagonists during last summer’s Women’s World Cup, will no doubt, also play crucial roles during this competition as well.
It must also be noted that the organizers of the Algarve Cup purposely avoided drawing Italy and Denmark together, due to the fact that the two teams are both vying for Euro 2021 qualification, as they were both drawn into the same group. The point of this was to avoid the potential fatigue of having to watch these teams play each other three times in one year (not to mention the potential nausea and absolute irritation that would arise from such circumstances too). So now, the only way these two teams will potentially play each other, is if they both make it to the final.
It was a good move on the part of the organizers.
The fact that Italy was even invited to this tournament is just a sign of the remarkable amount of progress from the women of the Azzurre. The women played so well during last summer’s tournament, and have grown by leaps and bounds in terms of not only their overall abilities, but status as well. So much so that they were invited back to this prestigious tournament after a 12 year absence.
It’s a sign of how the Italian women are growing in prominence in the world of football, and may they continue to rise as well.
And finally, it must be noted that playing Portugal will no doubt give rise to a few sentimental feelings among the Azzurre faithful, as ― the last time Italy played Portugal, they had to do so during World Cup qualification. They also had to beat the Portuguese women in order to qualify for the tournament.
They did so and did it in grand style, as they beat them 3-0.
There was much celebration afterwards, and you can relieve all of the happy moments here.
The first game of the Algarve Cup will take place on March 4th. The semi-finals will take place three days later, on March 7th, and the final will take place on March 11th. That’s 13 days before my birthday.
Now ladies ― go on and do me a solid, and make me proud.