It was the fourth installment of the Derby della Madonnina between the women, and the third in Serie A Femminile history.
Milan has now won all four editions of the derby.
⏱️ 94'— AC Milan (@acmilan) February 2, 2020
È FINITAAA!!! #MilanInter 2-1 ✅
Ancora una volta, il Derby è rossonero ⚫️
Nella ripresa, le rossonere rimontano grazie ai gol di Thorvaldsdottir e Giacinti ⚽️⚽️#FollowTheRossonere pic.twitter.com/LOtlnWjzxW
It was a wonderful way to start the week.
And now, a breakdown of the match.
Milan lined-up in a 4-3-2-1 while Inter opted for a 3-4-3. Both formations bucked the usual formations deployed by both teams throughout the season.
Milan initially started the game off well, with their first chance of the game coming four minutes in. That chance initially fell to Thorvaldsdottir, whose weak shot went wide of the target.
Inter had a great chance to take the lead at the 9th minute, when Gloria Marinelli had her shot on goal parried by Milan’s Mária Korenčiová. The rebound then fell onto the foot of Stefania Tarenzi, whose shot was also saved.
Stefania might be a running joke to some people on Twitter, but the way she almost put Inter ahead nearly made us all eat crow.
Maria, however, would prove to be the hero of the day, with her Peter Parker like reflexes that led to that incredible double save.
As I wrote in the lead-up to the match, Gloria is one of Inter’s best players and the way she teased and probed our defense just proved this. Heck, she’s actually one of the best forwards in the country. (With this in mind, we must commend the Milan defense for the way they were able to contain her.)
Milan would have another chance on goal at the 10th minute when Linda Tucceri Cimeni’s corner found the top of Nora Heroum’s head. Unfortunately, her header went over the crossbar and we were all left wondering what might have been.
As regrettable as the missed header was, that wouldn’t be Milan’s worst miss of the half. That would fall to Pamela Begič, who had the chance to put the Rossonere ahead at the 22nd minute when Capitano Giacinti served her a sublime pass on a platter, but her limp shot on target swerved away from the goal.
It was an opportunity drenched in gold and she threw it into corrosive acid.
Giacinti would have her own miss-of-the-half about 15 minutes later when her own shot on goal went wide of the target. Sadly, this would not be her only miss of the game.
Despite Milan having the majority of possession (55%, according to Sky) and having had more chances on target, they would end the first half goalless.
To The End
After the halftime interval, Milan would have another chance to pull ahead at the 47th minute, when Valentina Bergmaschi’s rocket went sailing over the crossbar.
However, it was Inter who would be the first to get on the scoresheet, thanks to their midfielder, Eva Bartoňová. What was originally a corner kick by her just somehow, found a way into the back of the net. Maybe it was just physics deciding to say ‘F U’ to itself or Korenčiová just having a brief mental lapse, but either way, the Rossonere found themselves behind by a score of one to nothing.
The goal, however, was against the run of play and was more of a freak accident than anything else.
Fortunately, Milan would pull one back at the 69th minute (nice), thanks to a goal from Thor of Asgard.
Approximately one minute later, Giacinti would win a penalty after her shot deflected off of the arm of Beatrice Merlo, whose arm was extended in an unnatural position. Our intrepid captain would step up to take the shot ... only for it to go wide of the target. It was an embarrassing moment for her and the rest of us were left on a knife-edge, wondering if our Champions League hopes would die by that very same blade.
Fortunately, Valentina would make up for her earlier miss and do so in a big way. After her fellow Valentina (Bergamaschi) lobbed a ball into the box and towards her direction, Giacinti would then control the pass with her fancy footwork, and then put it into the back of the net (‘78).
Milan would then hang on like Sloopy and see the game through. They emerged the victors of this match by a score of 2-1, and thus ensured that Milan would remain rossonera.
Secret Agent Woman
Beatrice Merlo, Inter’s starting right-back, actually had a fantastic match.
The only lamentable part about her performance was accumulating the double-booking that eventually led to her expulsion.
Merlo’s expulsion affected the game in more ways than one, chiefly in that it just reinforced the idea among some of the Milanisti that maybe, just maybe, she just might be one of us. After all, was there any other reason to get yourself booked and then expelled like that?
(I don’t know whether or not this is true, but it’s fun to speculate now isn’t it?)
Either way, Beatrice, if you’re reading this, then you’d most certainly be welcome over here on the red and black side of Milan (especially since you seem to be more loved by the Milanisti than the Nerazzurri too).
This win was not only a boost for morale and a cause for bragging rights, but it also allowed Milan to remain in the race for Europe.
Currently, we are on level points with Fiorentina. The Viola are ahead though, due to goal difference. However, we’ll have the chance to surpass them once we play them in late February.
Milan, as was noted, were dominant throughout the game against Inter. They had the majority of possession and shots on target and pretty much controlled the whole entire match (the one lapse that led to Bartoňová’s goal aside). They limited Inter to just a handful of shots on target, as they were able to successfully contain their young and mobile attack.
It was also nice to see Stine Hovland return to the starting line-up after being sidelined for two games due to illness.
The return of Deborah Salvatori Rinaldi was also a sight for sore eyes. Milan’s attack instantly improved with her substitution into the game in the second half of the match. Deborah’s return seems to be timely as well and she will be absolutely vital as we lumber towards Champions League qualification.
Of course, there’s also the fact that Valentina Giacinti seems to have broken her scoring duck. It’s nice to see her bang goals into the back of the net again. Her scoring boots have been on the shelf for way too long, and we’re more than glad to see her put them back on.
Most of the Milan players played well, but there were a few stand-outs (aside from our intrepid captain), who deserve a special mention. Specifically, they are Linda Tucceri Cimini, Valentina Bergamaschi, Laura Fusetti, Refiloe Jane and of course, Thorvaldsdottir.
Linda deserves a special mention, not only for her admirable defensive work but for her pinpoint and accurate crosses, which were instrumental in allowing Milan to secure this win.
Thorvaldsdottir has now scored an impressive four goals within three games in the league. This stat is impressive enough, but once you consider the fact that she has more trouble scoring goals in the Icelandic championship than she does in Serie A, then it makes her performances all the more remarkable.
By her own admission, she will be heading back to Iceland to play in the Úrvalsdeild kvenna this summer.
There is a chance, however, that she might want to continue playing with us. Here’s to hoping that her experience with Milan is a positive one and that she’ll want to come back next year, and eventually become a permanent fixture for the Rossonere.
A Few Lamentations
Physical fitness was once again, an issue for these women, as they look gassed after their midweek match against Pink Bari. This might also explain why they weren’t more clinical in front of goal, despite the many chances they created for themselves.
This is definitely something that needs to be worked on, especially if Milan manage to qualify for Europe next season. The issues with match fitness are going to cost this team in the long run. At the moment, they don’t look like a squad that can handle two games a week. Heck, at times, it seems like they can barely handle one game now.
The biggest lamentation, however, was that the Milan management did very little to promote this game. You would have hardly known that the derby was being played on Sunday due to how little promotion the game had received. Instead, all of the focus was on hyping up the men’s game with Hellas Verona that was being held the very same day.
As a result of this, only 700 spectators showed up to watch the women play. The lack of promotion most definitely had an effect on how many people would show up to watch the match. Holding the derby the same day the men’s team was playing, did so as well.
Although Milan should be commended for how much they’ve improved in terms of their coverage of the women’s team, including finally adding a women’s section to their official app, this is sadly, a misstep from them.
The first ever Derby della Madonnina at home for the ladies should have gotten more attention than what it had initially received.
It was a black spot on what is a continuously improving record of social media management from this team. As great as the derby was, it would have been even better to have had more spectators in the crowd, as they would have enhanced the overall atmosphere of the game.
This is something that should be viewed as a misstep rather than any sort of sinister suppression from the people in charge of the team. As il calcio femminile grows in Italy, there will be growing pains alongside it, and this is one ache Milan need to remedy in the near future.
The game will be played this Saturday, at 2:30 p.m CEST.
Here’s to hoping the ladies can continue their good form with a good result against Fiorentina as well.