UPDATE: 80’ — Another Netherlands set piece, another goal. It’s 2-0, and that should do it.
UPDATE: 70’ — The Netherlands takes a much-deserved lead.
The Dutch have been the much better side in the second half, and had been peppering Laura Giuliani’s goal ever since both teams came out from the halftime break. You can’t say the goal hadn’t been coming based on how both sides had been playing for the first 25 minutes of the second half.
UPDATE: HALFTIME — It’s scoreless in steamy Valenciennes.
The Dutch were probably the better side for the opening 10-15 minutes, but the Italians have been able to grow into the game quite well after some nervy moments early.
One thing to pay attention to on top of the heat: Where Cristiana Girelli, who had previously started every match up until the quarterfinals, plays into the second-half plans. There’s bound to be some kind of move based on just how much Valentina Giacinti is working her tail off up front. It’s just a matter of when in the second half head coach Milena Bertolini decides to pull the trigger and make a move or two to bring on fresh legs.
Based on pre-tournament expectations and in-tournament results, Italy will always be considered one of the biggest feel-good stories that the 2019 Women’s World Cup has to offer. And the longer that the Azzurre stay alive in this tournament that has been pretty damn exciting from beginning to its current point, it’s only going to be that much more true.
But, at this point, Italy isn’t in the mood for storylines or any of that.
It’s about staying alive at the Women’s World Cup and becoming one of the final four teams still playing for a chance to win a world title.
That chances comes today against the Netherlands in the late-afternoon/early-evening heat that is sweeping across France this weekend. Neither head coach is all that happy about when the game is being kicked off because of said heat wave, citing the fact that there was a perfect time window to move the game back so that the heat wouldn’t be as much of an issue as it would be at its current kickoff time.
FIFA, unsurprisingly, didn’t budge.
So, here we are. With temperatures soaring, Italy and the Netherlands will kickoff the first part of today’s quarterfinal doubleheader that will see the final two spots in the Women’s World Cup semifinals snatched up by the day’s end.
It’s not a spot we expected Italy to be in come the days and hours leading up to their group stage opener against Australia, a game the Azzurre won 2-1 thanks to some late-game heroics from Barbara Bonansea. They’ve taken the wave of momentum from there, proving to be more than just a tough out against some of the highest-ranked teams entering the tournament.
At this stage, it will be tough opposition no matter where you look. And Italy, to their credit, is trying to get their name into the mix. A win against the Netherlands wouldn’t just be even more respect coming Italy’s way, but another step to show that Italian women’s football is on an impressive rise from where it was just a few years ago.
So, let’s so what happens — heat or no heat.
When: Saturday, June 29, 2019
Where: Stade du Hainaut, Valenciennes, France
Official kickoff time: 3 p.m. local time in France and across Europe; 2 p.m. in the United Kingdom; 9 a.m. Eastern Time; 6 a.m. Pacific Time
HOW TO WATCH
Television: Fox Sports 1, UNIVERSO (United States); TSN1, TSN3, TSN4, TSN5, RDS (Canada); BBC Two (United Kingdom); Sky Sport Uno, RAI Sport 1, Rai Sport+ HD (Italy)
Online/mobile: FuboTV, NBC Sports Live Extra App, UNIVERSO NOW, Telemundo Deportes En Vivo (United States); TSN GO, RDS GO (Canada); BBC Sports Live, BBC iPlayer (United Kingdom); RAI Play, SKY Go Italia (Italy)
Other live viewing options can be found here, and as always, you can also follow along with us live and all the stupid things we say on Twitter. If you haven’t already, join the community on Black & White & Read All Over, and join in the discussion below.