In doing some reading before kickoff about 12 hours ago, I noticed that there was this little thing being thrown out there by a certain website by the name of Tutto Calcio Femminile: Juventus Women’s season opener was a matchup of the teacher lining up against the student.
The “teacher” in this case was Juve’s Cristiana Girelli, Serie A Femminile’s reigning top goal scorer and an all-around wonderful person. The “pupil” is a player who is very much looked at as a future contributor at Juventus: 19-year-old Asia Bragonzi, a Juve youth product who is spending the 2020-21 season on loan at Hellas Verona.
As Saturday’s season opener progressed, it was the teacher who got the upper hand on the pupil.
Girelli and midfielder Arianna Caruso scored goals within three minutes of each other in the second half to help Juventus Women open the Serie A Femminile campaign with a 2-0 win over Hellas Verona. It was the club’s first competitive match since February — which, as you can guess, was created due to the pandemic, the shutdown in Italy and then the FIGC deciding to not restart the 2019-20 Serie A Femminile season despite the fact that it would have been one of the few women’s leagues going in Europe.
(Italy gonna Italy. You know this by now.)
And seeing as this was only their fourth game since Serie A Femminile went into lockdown with the rest of the country in March — the other three being friendlies over the last couple of weeks — you can probably guess that this was far from a vintage Juve performance.
Juventus Women dominated possession. They dominated the scoring chances. It was very much one-way traffic for massive chunks of time as Hellas Verona very much packed things in and tried to hit Juve on the counter. That’s probably not much of a surprise if you know that Hellas Verona just barely avoided relegation and had one of the league’s worst defenses last season.
But the end result, at least in the first half, it was more about lots of possession and nothing to show for it rather than a lead.
That changed all of eight minutes into the second half. First it was Girelli doing what Girelli does and heading home a corner kick. Just two minutes later, Caruso quickly jumped on what may or may not have been a potential Girelli shot on target to double the lead.
The goals only seemed like a matter of time with the amount of chances and possession that Juventus Women had. The only thing was finally putting something on frame — which wasn’t exactly a thing during the opening 45 minutes.
And it just so happened that the teacher got the better of the student. (Although the student did have a few bright moments against the best defense Serie A Femminile has to offer right now.) Because of it, Juve’s 2020-21 season started in the same kind of fashion as the 2019-20 campaign ended — with a win.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- The more things change, the more they stay the same. And by that I mean Juventus Women got the win and Laura Giuliani recorded another shutout.
- The number of saves Giuliani had to make on Saturday was the same number of saves I made — which, knowing how much possession Juve had, isn’t much of a surprise.
- She didn’t have to make a save because one of the few scoring chances Hellas actually had, a second-half penalty attempt with about 10 minutes to go after she crashed into Bragonzi in the penalty area going for a 50-50 ball, was skied over the crossbar.
- Since tracking down in-game Serie A Femminile stats are quite the task as compared to the men’s game when you can just click a few times on WhoScored, I’m just going to go and guess that Martina Rosucci was the most fouled Juventus player against Hellas Verona. I don’t know if that’s right, but I am going to stick with it since the stats aren’t available. And judging by how absolutely fed up she was with the referee before halftime arrived, she had a legitimate gripe.
- It’s only a matter of time before Arianna Caruso becomes a regular in the Italian national team. She’s not even 21 years old yet, which is scary to think about knowing how good she already is.
- The depth this team has was on display Saturday: No Valentina Cernoia and Maria Alves due to muscle injuries — both were originally called up, for what it’s worth — so Rita Guarino can just turn to somebody like Annahita Zamanian. She might not be a completely natural winger seeing as she’s more of a trequartista, but she definitely held her own out wide.
- Lisa Boattin, Juve’s starting left back, put in a Juan Cuadrado-like performance, leading the squad with 99 touches and was seemingly involved in everything. That’s pretty good. She also nearly spun in a free kick from a tight angle in the first half, only to have it hit off the near post. (I know I said stats are hard to come by, so that’s why I will share the ones I saw on Twitter.)
- The feed on Juventus TV cut to Barbara Bonansea as she was walking off the field following the final whistle, and let’s just say she didn’t look all that pleased. I’m sure she was happy for the win, the three points and just generally having the chance to play against domestic competition again. But it was a frustrating day in front of goal for Juve’s No. 11, hitting the post twice and just not being her usual effective self in front of goal. I’ll go ahead and chalk it up to not playing much over the past six months more than anything else. So once she gets the rest fully off, it will be the usual Bonansea that we’re used to.
- Juventus Women had eight Italians in the starting lineup Saturday.
- The Juventus men had seven Italians on its entire 2019-20 roster.
- Strong Juventus, strong Italian national team. Well, at least when it comes to the women.