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Match Review: AC Milan Women defeat ACF Fiorentina (1-0)

An appetizer to whet your appetite.

AC Milan

The AC Milan Women will go again this Sunday. They’ll take on Empoli at 13:30 CET (5:30 am PST / 8:30 am EST).

As a primer before the game, here’s a match review of Milan’s win over Fiorentina last week.

The Formations

Fiorentina XI (3-5-2): Schroffenegger; Tortelli, Kravets, Vigilucci; Cafferata (85′ Piemonte), Huchet (63′ Mascarello), Breitner (85′ Baldi), Neto, Catena (73′ Monnecchi); Lundin, Sabatino

Milan XI (3-5-2): Giuliani; Fusetti, Agard, Codina; Bergamaschi, Adami, Grimshaw, Tucceri Cimini; Thomas, Longo (64′ Giacinti); Stapelfeldt (86′ Árnadóttir).

The Match Itself

The Rossonere went into this match at a disadvantage, as they were missing a few of their starters. Sara Thrige was absent after picking up a knock during one of Denmark’s World Cup qualifiers. Refiloe Jane was missing due to an ankle injury.

The real surprise was the absence of Vero Boquete, who was not summoned for unknown reasons. The other surprise was that Valentina Giacinti started on the bench. Again, there was no explanation given for this decision.

Miriam Longo, Nina Stapelfeldt, and Linda Tucceri Cimini all started in their place. Valentina Bergamaschi was given the captain’s armband for the game and it was Captain Bergamaschi who nearly got the Rossonere in trouble early on. Her unfortunate and misjudged backpass nearly handed a chance for Sabatino to score in the fourth minute. Thankfully, the former Milan captain’s shot went wide of the goal.

Lindsey Thomas had a clear chance on target in the 13th minute as she tried to slot the ball into the corner of the net.

Katja Schroffenegger, however, denied her that goal. AC Milan would not wait long for their breakthrough though. At the 20th minute, Linda Tucceri Cimini corner kick found the top of Nina Stapelfeldt’s head and she headed it home.

Even after the goal, the game was wide open and the Rossonere fought hard as they tried to double their lead. Milan had two chances that began at the 39th minute when Agard saw her free-kick pushed behind the goal. Greta Adami tried to hurt her former team by turning in a corner kick, only for the Viola defense to clear it off the line after a last-ditch scramble.

In the 49th minute, Stapelfeldt had another chance but once again, Schroffenegger blocked it. Valentina Giacinti was substituted into the match in the 64th minute and her impact was immediately felt. Sixteen minutes later, Giacinti almost scored what would have been a brilliant goal but her overhead kick went wide of the target.

For most of the second half, Fiorentina struggled to get out of their own box. They did have a rare shot on target in the 70th minute, as Marta Mascarello forced her national side teammate, Laura Giuliani, into making an easy save.

At around the 71st minute, Giacinti almost got in on goal but Schroffenegger made a last-ditch effort to deny her. The talismanic Mascarello would have another chance on goal a few minutes later. She did not convert the chance. The clearest chance of the second half fell to Stapelfeldt in the 74th minute. Her effort went wide of the target.

Not much would happen after that. The referee would then blow the whistle three times, and Milan would emerge as the victors of the match.

The Stats

Although Milan had less possession during the game, they still managed to control the game. The Rossonere managed to create more chances than the Viola did, despite only having 36.3% of possession. They managed to outshoot Fiorentina by a ratio of fifteen to five shots, with four shots on target.

Milan also managed to reach Fiorentina’s penalty area at least eighteen times, while the Viola only managed to reach theirs three times (Wyscout). It’s a testament to how strong Milan’s defense was and their ability to shut Fiorentina down allowed them to win the game.

Laia Codina

Laia Codina’s performance during this game was nothing short of excellent. Although she got off to a sluggish start, as she initially had trouble containing the pace of Daniela Sabatino, she eventually made up for it in a big way.

The defender’s two best sequences of the match came between the 21st and 23 minute. The first was when she intercepted Cafferata’s ball to disrupt Fiorentina’s buildup play.

The second was when she made a last-ditch save to prevent Sabatino from scoring. Though this was done to make up for her wayward pass, her quick reflexes are remarkable and should be heralded. Without her, Milan would not have kept a clean sheet and more importantly, win the game.

During the match, Codina made ten recoveries, two blocks, and won nine defensive duels.

For her efforts, the Catalan player was named to the FIGC’s team of the week.

She has more than merited the honor.

Grimshaw’s Heart and Hustle

When a team is missing so many of their starters, the other players have to step up in their place. And Christy Grimshaw did just that, and she did so in a big way.

The midfielder became the heart of Milan’s midfield, as she put in a shift where she constantly won the ball back and disrupted the Viola’s rhythm.

Grimshaw made a total of four interceptions and won 46.2% of her duels (Wyscout).

Grimshaw’s heat map

It was a commanding performance from her as she stepped up big time in the absence of other players.

Grimshaw embodied the spirit that the team needed to win and she was one of the keys to them securing all three points.

And for that, she deserves to be commended.

With this win, the Rossonere proved that they have what it takes to overcome the most daunting challenges.

And it’s the type of mettle they’ll need to get them through what will most certainly be a tough season.