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A beginner’s guide to Juventus Women for the 2021-22 season

If you want to cheer for a squad in Turin that’s actually winning, this may be your best option.

Vllaznia v Juventus Women - UEFA Women’s Champions League Photo by Filippo Alfero - Juventus FC/Juventus FC via Getty Images

It has been a rough go of things on the men’s side of Juventus FC to start the new season, but the same cannot be said for the women’s squad.

Juventus Women has built up a culture of winning in just four short years and that showed up again last week in the team’s league debut for the new season. With the chase for another league title underway along with Champions League being back in full swing, it’s time to throw your support behind the other half of the club. But first, there are a few things you may want to know, including some relevant links along the way, before diving headfirst into the new season.

History

Juve has a rich and long history, but the women’s side of the club did not actually get started until 2017. There have been other women’s teams based in Turn in the past but none of them were directly connected with Juventus FC.

The club was officially formed when Juventus bought ASD Cuneo, a professional women’s team which dated back all the way to 1985. Cuneo won Serie B in 2016 and survived relegation in its final season which allowed Juventus to immediately compete in the top division after the rebranding of the club.

Juventus wanted to win right away and the club spent the money to make it happen, bringing in former Italian international and national youth team coach Rita Guarino to manage the team’s first season. Martina Rosucci scored the club’s first ever goal in competition in a 13-0 cup win over Torino.

That was just the beginning for Italians leading the club as Juventus has just dominated the national pool since coming on to the scene. Some of the most-capped active Italian internationals have played for Juventus over the last four seasons including Sara Gama, Barbara Bonansea, Cristiana Girelli, Valentina Cernoia, Laura Giuliani and many more.

Having those big name players led to immediate success, as Juventus won the league title in its inaugural season and it has not given up that title since, winning four consecutive trophies including a perfect 22-0-0 record last season. Juventus has claimed one domestic double as well, winning the league and Coppa Italia in 2018-19.

International competition has not been nearly as kind to Juventus as it has lost in the Round of 32 for three straight seasons. But those losses have been a little less embarrassing than some of the other teams related to this club, being drawn against Spanish giant Barcelona and five-time European champion Lyon in the last two seasons.

Offseason changes

This summer has marked the most eventful offseason for Juventus Women since the team was formed. From the coaching staff to regulars in the starting XI, nobody was safe from the summer rumor mill and many of those rumors developed into actual moves away from the club.

It started at the helm as Guarino announced she would be leaving Juventus just two days before the final match of the season against Inter Milan. Less than a month later, Guarino was appointed manager of Inter and Juventus had already found its next coach in former Arsenal manager Joe Montemurro.

Juventus v Pomigliano - Women Serie A Photo by Filippo Alfero - Juventus FC/Juventus FC via Getty Images

The changes did not end there, though. Juventus fans saw a number of their favorite players leave the club.

  • Giuliani had been with the club since its creation and started all 22 league games last year to help Juventus to its perfect record, but she left after the season and will now be between the posts for AC Milan.
  • Aurora Galli was also a part of the original roster and made 67 appearances for Juventus, but has made some history with Everton, becoming the first Italian to compete in the FA Women’s Super League.
  • Benedetta Glionna was another name on the club’s original starting XI, but after two years on loan, she officially left the club in July, moving to Roma.

While those losses will certainly pull the heartstrings of fans who have kept up with the team since 2017, Juventus made some moves to make up for the players lost. Pauline Peyraud-Magnin was signed to be the starting goalkeeper, while Agnese Bonfantini comes in from Roma to help out in the crowded attack. But the heart of the team will still be made up of Juventus veterans, many of whom have been there since the first season. Swedish international Amanda Nilden has already made an impact with the defense, starting in the first league match.

Roster overview

If there is anything Juventus Women has been great at, it’s limiting roster turnover. And despite some of the players gone, that shows up again this season with several players from the 2017 roster still filling out starting lineups this season.

The defense can almost run an identical backline to the team’s first competitive game which would include Gama who captained that team. Fullbacks Lisa Boattin and Tuija Hyyrynen also started that first game and are expected to get most of the starts on the wing again this season. Martina Lenzini actually started that Coppa Italia match against Torino as well and will now return to Juventus after being on loan at Sassuolo the last three seasons. Nilden and Matilde Lundorf have both already made appearances at center back, giving Juventus plenty of options on the backline.

Cecilia Salvai has started every competitive match for Juventus so far this year and appears to be the top selection among the team’s center backs despite not offering any public apologies since the team tweeted a picture of Salvai using a racist gesture last month. Linda Sembrant, who started 18 games last season, is currently out with a long-term knee injury.

The midfield will have a lot of familiar faces as well, but as it has been for the past couple of seasons, finding the space for all of them will be the biggest challenge. Arianna Caruso led the team in minutes from the midfield last season, closely followed by Rosucci and Bonansea. But the depth doesn’t end there with Cernoia, Annahita Zamanian and Sofie Pedersen playing key roles from the midfield as well.

Caruso and Bonansea both spent some time further up in the attack last season, which could allow more minutes for the others to play in true midfield roles but this year’s front line may be even more crowded than the midfield.

Girelli is back after claiming the league’s golden boot with 22 goals last season — she just scored in the Champions League as I was writing this sentence — but she didn’t even have the most appearances for Juventus forwards. That was held by Andrea Staskova, who was used almost exclusively as a “super sub” under Guarino.

Lina Hurtig is back for her second season with Juventus and continues to show improvement, starring with the silver-medalist Sweden during the Summer Olympics. Bonfantini should also expect to get minutes in her first year with the Bianconere after a great campaign for Roma last year.

Sweden v United States: Women’s Football - Olympics: Day -2 Photo by Logan Beerman/ISI Photos/Getty Images

Montemurro’s play style

Figuring out where to play all of those players and how to split up the minutes is quite the first-year challenge for Montemurro, but he has managed to have a nice rotation through the early stages of the season so far. Of the 24 players listed on the club website’s official roster, 19 have made at least two appearances in four matches played between Serie A and the Champions League.

Montemurro was known to change things up at Arsenal from time to time and never had a permanent formation. He has said that’s the way he wants this Juventus team to play too with a free-flowing formation that allows plenty of space to roam for midfielders and wingers.

And while we may see changes in base formation as the season goes along, he seems to be favoring the 4-3-3 with his current squad. The fullbacks have pushed up high with the center backs leaving plenty of space between themselves and allowing Peyraud-Magnin to play in a sweeper keeper role.

This also allows one of the midfielders to drop in and distribute from the back as a true No. 6, a role that has been filled by Rosucci and Zamanian this season. The holding midfielder allows more free roam for the two other central midfielders who are called upon to do more work from box to box.

Montemurro’s 4-3-3 may look like it has true wingers, but those wide players are often seen cutting in to give the fullbacks more space to operate in the attack. Caruso, Bonansea and Hurtig can all be seen on the wing, as an attacking midfielder or even as a second striker to Girelli at some point during games this season.

When you watch Juventus play this season, you’re going to see a lot of possession and a lot of passing. The attacking shape may fluctuate, but the midfielders will still more or less take on the same responsibilities from game to game as they have to control that possession while putting in the defensive work when needed before turning things back over to Girelli and the attacking line.

Season expectations

The team may look a little different this season, but there is still every reason to believe Juventus is the favorite in Serie A again this season. Four straight domestic league titles speak for themselves and it is still, by far, the most talented squad in all of Italy. The club’s success has pushed rival clubs to spend a little bit more money and hopefully the league comes along but for now, it’s all Juventus. The expectations will not be just to win the league, but to claim the Coppa Italia back for the first time since 2019 and earn the club’s second domestic double.

As for European play, Juventus is just hoping for a favorable draw. There is a new format to Champions League this season and Juventus is closing in on securing a spot in the group stage after winning its first leg matchup on the road against Vllaznia in Albania. If Juventus holds its lead in Turin next week, it will be one of the final 16 teams standing in Europe. They will then enter one of the four-team groups, likely as an underdog, with the top two from each group advancing to the knockout rounds. This year’s final will be played at Juventus Stadium. (Fun fact: The Juve women do not actually play most of their home matches in Juventus Stadium. They call the Campo Ale & Ricky at the Juventus Training Center their home grounds.)

How to follow along

If you would like to watch every match this season, I would recommend subscribing to Juventus TV. The annual price is absolutely worth it. You can also follow along with the Twitter account dedicated to Juventus Women (@JuventusFCWomen). We will also continue to provide coverage throughout the season.


(Shoutout to The Milan Offside’s AC Milan Women writer Steph (aka @Amicus_arcane) for the inspiration.)