After 180 or so minutes of game time at the Women’s World Cup, Italy probably couldn’t have drawn things up any better as they sat around their hotel tis time last week.
And a nice little goal differential in their favor, too.
There was no need for any kind of late-game theatrics this time around on Friday, as Italy rolled to a 5-0 win over Jamaica to not only take over sole possession of first place in Group C but also book their ticket to the knockout rounds. And just as was the case in Italy’s tournament opener, all of Italy’s scoring came from players who are employed by Juventus, with Cristiana Girelli scoring a hat trick within the game’s first 46 minutes and midfielder Aurora Galli coming off the bench to snag a second-half brace.
Of Italy’s seven goals they’ve scored through their first two Women’s World Cup games, every single one of them have been courtesy of somebody who plays for Juventus Women.
That’s good, right?
Laura Giuliani also got her shutout on top of the win, so now she can make all the fantcalcio people happy.
5 - Italy have picked up their joint-largest ever win in the Women's World Cup, level with their 5-0 victory over Chinese Taipei in 1991 in their first ever game at the tournament. Bookends. #FIFAWWC #ITA pic.twitter.com/XcsYqFioGb— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 14, 2019
Even in the build up to this game it was so much different than that of Italy’s tournament opener against Australia five days earlier. Italy was the clear underdog when facing the Aussies, with the 2-1 win courtesy of a Barbara Bonansea brace causing a whole lot of folks to talk about what kind of upset it was. On Friday, Italy were the clear favorites — and the win probability charts only backed that up. Jamaica’s the lowest-ranked team at the Women’s World Cup, and any kind of result against Italy might as well be one of the biggest developments thus far.
There was no upset, though.
Instead, there was just Italy taking care of business.
Girelli, Juventus Women’s joint-top scorer this past season, shook off a game against Australia where he attempts in front of goal were more frustratingly missed instead of put away in the back of the net. She even shook off seeing a penalty kick saved, only to get a mulligan of sorts after it was ruled Jamaica keeper Sydney Schneider left her line too early.
Once Girelli slotted home the retake from the penalty spot, it was away the Azzurre went.
Girelli got her second — with a little misdirection off her thigh — midway through the first half and then scored less than a minute into the second period to complete the three-goal day and give Italy its second-ever hat trick at the Women’s World Cup.
Not bad, not bad at all.
But, what do you know? The team that was thought to be the third-best team in their group are heading to the Round of 16 and could finish atop Group C with a point against Brazil next Tuesday night.
Pretty good ... pretty, pretty, pretty good.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- Inject Galli’s first goal into my veins so that I can live off the high for the next week. What a freakin’ hit that was.
- Different kind of game, sure, but it was definitely nice to see Italy’s passing be much, much improved from where it was against Australia.
- That had a lot to do with the improved midfield play, led by Valentia Cernoia and Manuela Giugliano, who probably would have been in the conversation for Player of the Game if not for Girelli scoring a hat trick.
- Sara Gama got absolutely whacked in the face on a high boot by Bunny Shaw in the second half. After that, Gama was an absolute rock at the back. That’s some Giorgio Chiellini kind of stuff right there. Although, no need for any head bandages. (But that might have messed up the beautiful Gama hair, so that’s good.)
- It has been requested by my friend Bren over at Chiesa Di Totti to let you all know that Italy’s goal differential is plus-7 when Elisa Bartoli, a Roma player, is on the field.
- When Galli was subbed on, seven of Italy’s players were from Juventus Women. That was always going to be in play knowing how well-represented Juve is, but it’s still pretty damn cool to see when the team is actually playing (and winning).
- Strong Juventus, strong Italy, right?
- Jamaica’s goalkeeper, Sydney Schneider, is 19 years old. What were you doing at 19 years old? Probably not playing at the World Cup, I’m guessing.
- Closing remark: I entered this tournament not sure what to expect from this Italy team. Part of that had to do with the group they were in, the other part knowing that it had been so long since any Italian team had been at a Women’s World Cup. But after two games, this team has proven it can hang, and they’re a pretty enjoyable team to watch on top of it. Obviously Brazil will be a big test because they’ve got the mystique, but Italy is showing that they’re plenty capable — and that spot in the knockout rounds is proof of that.