When it comes to the 2019 calendar year for Juventus Women and football in women’s football as a whole, I think it’s safe to say that it was a resounding success. Domestically, Juventus Women won its second Scudetto in as many years of existence, while internationally the Italy women’s national team made a surprising (and impressive) run to the Women’s World Cup quarterfinals back in June.
And it just so happens that those two squads are incredibly intertwined.
As the old saying goes, “A good Juventus makes for a good Azzurri” was also applicable to the Azzurre these days. (Certainly more than the men’s side since Juve has such a small Italian presence these days.) And because Juventus Women have so much chemistry on the club level (both on and off the field), it makes transitioning to the national team level just that much more of an important factor. (It also helps that Juve’s core is so heavy with Italian talent, of course.)
But, in just its second season, Juventus Women won its first domestic double, claiming Scudetto No. 2 as well as the first Coppa Italia in club history on the women’s side. The team also women a third trophy, the Women’s Supercoppa, just a few months ago to ensure that the calendar year ends with all domestic trophies
Below are so impressive things that happened over the last 12 months for a Juventus Women team that currently sits atop the Serie A Femminile standings — surprise! — as we wait for the month-long holiday break (!!!) to come to a close the second weekend of January.
30 games played, 24 wins
That’s a winning percentage of 80 percent.
By my estimation that’s ... quite good.
A good portion of those wins were in relatively comfortable fashion since the bottom half of the Serie A Femminile table is nowhere near as good as it is when you compare it to the men’s side of things and how Juve’s wins under Max Allegri and/or Maurizio Sarri have been against the provincial clubs.
But, like we saw during some of the final games of 2019, when the moment called for it, Juventus Women was there to answer the call more often than not.
It was that stretch that allowed them to go into the winter break with another comfortable lead. They took on their closest competition, gaining seven points out of a possible nine against AC Milan (at the time in second place), Roma (at the time in fourth place) and Fiorentina (at the time in second place).
They’re good. And they win — a lot.
3 trophies won
Like I said, Juventus Women currently hold all three domestic trophies that are in play.
Scudetto. Coppa Italia. Supercoppa.
That’s a pretty damn good thing to brag about — especially when you’ve been around for all of two seasons and change.
All that winning we just talked about saw the end result be three trophies be obtained. Because the club is still so young even though a lot of the core has been playing together at the club level for a good chunk of time — thanks again, Brescia — so much of the concentration has been put on getting things right domestically before starting to make a push on the European stage.
Rough guess, but they’ve done pretty well in Italy over the last 2 1⁄2 years.
3 losses ... two of which to Barcelona
The Women’s Champions League Round of 32 draw sucked.
Only two teams had the chance to be drawn against a finalist from a season ago ... and Juventus Women ended up being one of them. While there’s nowhere close to as much of a emphasis on Europe as the men’s team these days, seeing them get a couple of wins and advance a round or two would have been nice.
But, Barcelona happened.
And even though Juventus Women impressed against one of women’s football’s true club juggernauts, it was one round and done in the Champions League this season.
75 goals scored
It always helps when you score 15 goals in a week like Juve did in early December, but this number was always going to be gaudy no matter what happened in the final games of 2019.
Before Eni Aluko’s departure in November, you could make the case that the three best strikers in all of Serie A Femminile wore a Juventus Women jersey. Barbara Bonansea’s 2019-20 season started with injuries, but she’s easily been one of the major stars of this Juventus Women side since its first-ever game two years ago. In Bonansea’s absence for the first 2 1⁄2 months of the current campaign, Cristiana Girelli nearly matched her entire goal scoring total of the entire season before.
Girelli scored 13 goals last season.
She’s already got 10 this season — and we’re not even at the halfway point yet.
The strikers, of course, will get the most attention because they’re the ones who score most of the goals. But Juventus’ midfield, one that has both creativity and steel, is really starting to contribute more and more as time goes by — which is a luxury that even Juve’s closest competition in Serie A don’t always have the luxury of saying.
17 goals allowed
This might be the most underrated part of Juventus Women’s game simply because the likes of Bonansea and Girelli are so good at their job on what seems like a weekly basis. But when you consider that Sara Gama — another one of those Juventus Women and Azzurre foundation pieces — has basically has basically split the last 12 months between two different central defense partners, what Juve have done at the back is even more impressive.
Cecilia Salvai’s long recovery from major knee surgery is now a thing of the past, but the injury she suffered against Fiorentina on what was otherwise a wonderful day at Allianz Stadium meant Juventus Women had a big absence to try and fill for much of the first half of the season.
In stepped Linda Sembrant, a 2019 summer signing from Montpellier who stepped in right away and didn’t miss a beat playing next to her new partner in central defense in Gama.
With the Gama-Sembrant combination playing more often than not, Juventus Women have allowed all of six goals in league play this season.
And it always helps when you have a goalkeeper like Laura Giuliani there to clean up any mistakes that do happen in defense. (She may not be considered in the elite of the elite, but she’s gotta be on that second tier with the way she’s played since arriving in Turin.)
39,000 spectators watched Juve beat Fiorentina
This is a cool picture:
On March 24, Juventus and Fiorentina played a game. It was, essentially, the game that decided who was going to win that season’s Scudetto. Juve were first, Fiorentina second and they were about as even as even gets in just about every aspect of things entering the match.
And just as an added element, Juventus announced the game was going to be played at Allianz Stadium, the first time the women’s team has ever played at the arena that has seen plenty of history ever since it opened its doors in 2011.
The crowd responded as well as the club could have even hoped. A record crowd of 39,000 watched Juventus Women beat Fiorentina 1-0 on Sofie Junge Pedersen’s second-half goal. The game lived up to the hype, too, which was just the icing on the cake of a special afternoon for both clubs involved as well as women’s football in Italy as a whole.
(If only Cecilia Salvai didn’t seriously injure her knee then it would have been a perfect day.)
My hope is that this becomes a regular thing both in Turin and for some of the other big women’s clubs in Italy. Maybe at some point we will get to a place where women’s teams in Italy aren’t playing on fields that are basically equal to random high school venues.
For now, though, I guess we can only hope that Juventus Women again get to play an incredibly important match at Allianz Stadium come early spring. It worked well the first time, everybody.
Italy scored 9 goals at the Women’s World Cup. All but one was by a Juventus player.
It’s hard to do something about Juventus Women without a mention of the Women’s World Cup simply because there were times when it felt like all 11 players on the field were all lifting the Scudetto a couple of months earlier. (It’s not actually the case, but whatever.)
It didn’t matter if it was in defense.
It didn’t matter if it was in the midfield.
It didn’t matter if it was in Italy’s attacking trident.
When Italy did something well, the majority of the time it was because of somebody who plays for Juventus Women.
Italy wasn’t the highest powered team offensively at the tournament this past summer. But what they did have was the ability to make the opposition pay in a variety of different ways. Italy proved to be quite an effective team on the counterattack — INSERT YOUR TYPICAL ITALIAN CLICHÉ HERE — but also that they had enough creativity in midfield and up front to beat you in a different kind of way than the typical Italian version of things.
Bonansea set the Juventus-centric tone on the opening game of the group with a brace — and a Francisco Totti-like celebration — against Australia. Girelli and midfielder Auroro Galli followed that up with a hat trick and a brace, respectively, against Jamaica.
Galli scored her third goal of the tournament in the first knockout game against China to help the Azzurre advance to the quarterfinals.
All in all, it was a fantastic summer for Italian women’s soccer. And it just so happened that the players of Juventus Women had a lot to do with it.