I could have probably counted on one hand that amount of times Barbara Bonansea was on the ball in the opening 20 minutes of Sunday’s match at the Artemio Franchi. For as much possession as Juventus Women had, it wasn’t like Bonansea and Cristiana Girelli were all that involved in what the Bianconere were doing.
Then, with one fell swoop, the brilliance of Bonansea showed out.
Within the span of a couple of seconds, Bonansea picked the pocket of a Fiorentina player, then sent the onrushing defender the wrong way before slotting home her first goal of the season — against her former teammate in goal, no less! — for what proved to be the game-winning goal in a 3-0 win over La Viola in Florence. Bonansea added a second goal in the second half to complete the brace, then saw Valentina Cernoia score an absolutely fantastic free kick to cap the win in the first truly big game of the 2021-22 season.
I mean, seriously, folks — look at this free kick and marvel at its beauty ...
Ah, it’s so pretty. So, so pretty. That’s not an easy angle by any means, too. Yet, it’s perfectly placed and struck with the kind of pace that left the keeper absolutely no chance to make the save. (Again, that’s a tough way to face your former team.)
The thing with all of this is that the scoreline, no matter how flattering from a Juventus point of view, screams domination. This wasn’t full-on one-way traffic by any means. Fiorentina are very much a weaker team as compared to previous seasons when they were looked at as one of the true challengers to win the Scudetto with Juventus Women, but they were very much up for this one even after a tough start to the 2021-22 season.
That might not have been something I expected when asking my Viola-leaning buddy Tito of Viola Nation about the Fiorentina women before the game. But, in what had to be an already desperation kind of situation for a club that has previously been one of the best in Serie A Femminile, going 0-for-2 to start the new season.
This was very much a relatively even match until Bonansea’s second goal made it 2-0 in the 74th minute. Fiorentina, while not forcing crazy saves out of Pauline Peyraud-Magnin, were very much putting Juve’s defense under some stress. That was the case before Bonansea’s first goal, after it was 1-0 and definitely after Juve had made it a two-goal advantage.
It was definitely a close game, with the final score maybe more indicative of how strong Juve were finishing the final 15 minutes or so rather than dominating from start to finish.
No matter what, though, with Bonansea doing more Bonansea things, Juve were able to get the points they needed to maintain a solid start to the season. That’s something that Sunday’s opposition definitely can’t about how the season has begun. And while one team is going in one direction, Juve seem to be settling in to a nice little groove as Joe Montemurro’s time with the team moves on.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- Seeing a women’s game played at the Franchi — pretty cool.
- Gotta be honest: After what we’ve seen her do the last couple of years, it is pretty weird to see Juventus play a couple of league games and not see Girelli scoring at least one of the team’s goals. I know she will take a turn for the better in due time, but it hasn’t been the red-hot kind of start to a season for Girelli like she was in the midst of this time last year.
- Peyraud-Magnin didn’t necessarily have the best preseason to make us suddenly forget about Laura Giuliani, but man has she been solid since the games started counting. This wasn’t a game where Fiorentina was lacking with scoring opportunities, but PPM did just about everything right in recording her second straight shutout to begin league play.
- You can also tell that Peyraud-Magnin and the rest of the defensive unit are starting to get some chemistry going. Knowing what lies ahead, that’s a pretty good thing to see now that it’s early September.
- Boy it sure was nice to see Sara Gama back in the starting lineup after not playing in the season opener as well as the Women’s Champions League fixture midweek. She may give looks that could drive a hole through your head during the pre-game anthem, but she sure brings such a level of calm to the team once things get going. Love my captain.
- I will die for Lisa Boattin.
- Seriously, she’s so good, you guys.
- There was a point in the second half after Cernoia’s free kick made it 3-0 where Fiorentina were bombing forward with numbers on the counterattack. There’s Boattin, standing her ground, and making a picture perfect tackle to stop the counter right in its tracks. It was pretty much the summation of just how good of a defender Boattin has become the last couple of years. And also just how confident she is these days.
- I will also die for Arianna Caruso. She’s also so damn good.
- Caruso, who has really becoming a goal threat over the last couple of seasons, is starting to play as high up the field as I’ve ever seen her play. At times, it was almost like Juve were playing a 4-2-4 with Caruso essentially a seconda punta playing off Girelli. If this is the latest development in Caruso’s game — and there’s no reason to think that Montemurro is going to suddenly change this based on the sample size we currently have — then she’s got a legitimate shot to finish with double digits in goals for the first time in her career.
- Some of the long passes Annahita Zamanian was playing in this game ... she’s fun to watch.
- You know your team has pretty good depth when you can bring somebody like Lina Hurtig off the bench in the second half. Joe’s got it good. (By the way, happy birthday, Lina!)
- Moments before Cernoia’s free kick, Martina Rosucci nearly scored on an overhead kick, only seeing the ball hit off the right upright. Rosucci, not necessarily known for her goal scoring, was all of about three or four inches to the left from scoring the goal of the season all of two weeks into the season.
- I mean, come on, Rosucci scores this and we lose our minds ...
- Joe Montemurro waited all of a couple minutes to let out a “DAI! DAI! DAI!” that was easily picked up by the field microphone(s). Now, if we‘ve got multiple Juventus managers who are dropping this on us at the same time, then we can just expect all hell to break loose, right?
- Back to the Champions League midweek. Let’s hope that 2-0 advantage and a home game pave the way for advancement into the UWCL group stage. That would be pretty nice.