Three players from AC Milan have been summoned to play for the Azzurre. The players are Valentina Giacinti, Laura Fusetti, and Linda Tucceri Cimini. Giacinti’s fellow Valentina, Bergamaschi, is out with an injury. The player is said to be on the road to recovery and will be back in about 11 days (or so they say).
The three Rossonere that have been summoned to the national team will do their part to help Italy qualify for the 2022 Euros.
The Azzurre will have a mountain to climb as they try to win this match, and the climb got even harder when Alia Guagni recently tested positive for COVID-19.
So essentially, they’ll be playing the match without their best player and vice-captain. It’s a pretty big setback for the team, unfortunately.
However, I wouldn’t rule them out of topping that summit yet.
Italy usually plays in a 4-3-1-2 formation. This is the formation they also used against Bosnia and Herzegovina, a match that they won 5-0.
Expect them to field a similar formation. The 4-3-1-2 is a formation that is compact and is quite useful for teams that focus on defense more than attack (and Italy just happens to be one of them). Teams using this formation have the same pressing sequence; when the opposing centre-backs have the ball, the team will stay central and won’t press the centre-backs high up the field, thus leaving the passing lane to the fullback open. This will then force the opposition to the outside.
This is where Italy’s fullbacks become crucial in the match, as it will be their job to stop the opposing players who are going wide. Lisa Boattin (left) and Elisa Bartoli (right) will most likely be the ones to step up to the challenge for Italy.
When the opposing players go wide and move to either to the right or the left side of the pitch, the whole team will shift as a unit to that side to make the field very narrow. With the help of the touchline, the right or left-midfielder can easily press the opposing fullback, forcing the player to either pass back to their centre-backs or keep hold of possession.
This is an area where Italy has an advantage over Denmark. The Danes have been having problems fielding a proper left-back. Lars Søndergaard (Denmark’s coach), favors a back three in defense, which is why his team usually plays in a 3-4-1-2. Søndergaard usually fields Sofie Svava on the left side. Svava’s a brilliant young player, however, her strengths are in offense, and not in defense.
Fortunately, for the Azzurre, Italy has a surplus of left-backs at their disposal. It will be the previously mentioned Lisa Boattin who will get the nod, and who will be tasked with exploiting the left-hand time for the team. If Italy are going to win this game, then she’ll definitely need to do so here.
Italy’s midfield also seems to have more muscle in it than their Danish counterparts. In the 3-4-1-2, Denmark fields a midfield duo of Sofie Junge Pedersen and Sanne Troelsgaard. Troelsgaard is more of an attack-minded player who tends to move forward, which leaves Pedersen isolated. As a result, this leaves her with a lot to do in terms of defensive work. Having her isolated like this means that there is a risk of the Danish midfield being overrun.
With Italy fielding a combination of Martina Rosucci, Valentina Cernoia, and Manuela Giugliano, they just might have what they need to exploit this weakness. All of the players can work in tandem to outmuscle the Danes in the middle of the park, in order to take control of the game and to see it through.
The hope is that the Milan players will also take part in this crucial qualifying match as well. However, the Rossonere who will most likely be fielded is Giacinti. The Milan skipper will hopefully contribute to the Azzurre’s attack and give them what they to win this match.
For starters, Italy seems to be bad at defending set-pieces. Recall that Italy did not concede a single goal from open play at the Women’s World Cup. However, they were eliminated by The Netherlands after they conceded two free-kicks. This also brings up another point, which is that Italy’s own worst enemy is their own self-discipline. Had they not lost their heads, they wouldn’t have conceded those free-kicks. (Though it must be said that the Dutch diving did sway the referee in their favor as well.)
In order for Italy to win against Denmark, they cannot repeat the same mistakes. They’ll have to maintain composure and be smart if they are to win this match. They’ll also need to be calm and collected against an opposing offense that is lead by Pernille Harder. Harder, for all intents and purposes, may be one of the world’s best forwards. You can also make a strong case that she is in fact, the absolute best.
And even if you take Harder out of the equation, Denmark has other scoring threats. If you double-up on her, then be sure to keep an eye on Stine Larsen and Signe Bruun, who will be more than happy to shoot the ball while you’re being distracted by their captain. Though Nadia Nadim tends to miss sitters for PSG, she is more clinical for her country. Therefore, one should not underestimate her.
Overall, Denmark’s greatest strength is their offense. As it stands, De rød-hvide has a 23+ goal difference over the Azzurre. If Italy are to win this match, then they will have to work in tandem to shut them down.
And given the fact that Italy didn’t concede a single goal from open play at the Women’s World Cup, they just might have what it takes to do so.
Other things of note
- Captain Sara Gama is still out due to a muscular injury. Italy will be playing at a slight disadvantage as they have no one to fill in the leadership void at the back. Here’s to hoping that Laura Giuliani or someone else will be able to fill that void.
- For the first few rounds of qualification, Denmark have only used 18 players for their qualification matches. Many Danes have complained about this, as they claim that using fewer players will lead to fatigue and a greater risk of injury for them. However, the federation seems to have changed their minds and allowed Søndergaard to call-up more players for the qualifiers. We’ll see how it impacts the team on the pitch.
- The last time Italy and Denmark played each other, Italy won 2-1. Here’s to hoping they can replicate that performance here
Italy will be up against it, especially without their two captains. But if anyone is up for the challenge, then it will most certainly be the Italians. Valentina Giacinti is confirmed to be in Italy’s starting line-up, so here’s to hoping that the Rossonere captain and the rest of the Azzurre can make us proud, and secure a victory today.
Winning this game will be important, as the victors of these last two matches will secure direct qualification for the Euros, and will not play in a playoff for qualification.
Italy will be looking to avoid the latter, so look for them to put up a strong fight.
How to Watch
On Rai Due and Rai Sport.
Now, take us to the Euros ladies!