I sat here the last time I wrote about the Juventus women wondering where the goals have gone for the woman who has scored plenty of them since arriving in Turin. Things had been relatively quiet on the Cristiana Girelli goal scoring front no matter if it was in Europe or domestically.
I am here to tell you things have change.
And that means things have changed for the better.
Girelli was the driving force behind Juventus Women’s 5-0 throttling of FC Zürich at a snowy Juventus Stadium, with the Italian international scoring four times to officially break out of her scoring slump that dates back to October. Girelli opened the scoring within the first two minutes, got her hat trick in less than an hour and quickly made it four mere moments later.
With her performance Thursday night, Girelli became the first Juventus player male or female to score four goals in a single Champions League game.
She also did this for her second goal:
Welcome to Cristiana Girelli’s Paneka SZN. That came after Girelli’s Backheel SZN showed itself during the game-opening goal. Feel free to grab a snowball or two while you’re here in attendance. Just try to stay warm while enjoying the show, everybody.
However, there’s a catch with all of this: Later in the day, Lyon were able to hold on for a crucial 1-0 win over group leaders Arsenal in London, meaning the Group C standings remained in the same order in which they were to begin the day. The only thing that changed was the fact that Arsenal’s lead over Lyon in second place is now simply down to goal differential with the two teams even on 10 points.
That means Juve, sitting in third on eight points, will now need to beat Lyon next week if they want to advance to the UWCL quarterfinals for the second straight season. (Arsenal have already advanced despite the loss to Lyon.)
So, just like last season, to keep their European campaign alive, That was the quarterfinals. This is the group stage, as Juve will have to get the win in France against one of the true juggernauts of the women’s game to get to be one of the final eight teams remaining.
Destiny is still very much in Juve’s hands because it’s basically either win or see the Women’s Champions League campaign come to an end for Joe Montemurro’s side. But seeing Lyon get the win over Arsenal — thanks to an owl goal that shouldn’t have even counted due to a blown offside call, too — takes a little bit of the shine off things since Juve weren’t able to jump back into second place and now have to win in France next week.
It’s far from ideal — especially considering that Lyon have been pretty dang tough ever since they started the group stage with a loss to Arsenal and then a draw in Turin.
But Juve were able to take care their end of the bargain on Thursday night. They needed help from Arsenal, sure, but asking for two wins over the reigning Women’s Champions League winners is a tough task no matter what kind of form they’re in. Led by Girelli, Juventus were able to keep the European dream alive. We might not be saying the same thing a week from now, but Juve are still alive for a spot in the UWCL quarterfinals — and with one game to go in the group stage that’s not something a good number of clubs aren’t able to say.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- It’s been a little while since we’ve had a snow game like this one. It was probably not great to play in but it was at least quite the thing to see considering it had been a while.
- The orange ball came out. The lines on the field had to be painted a different color because of the fear of snow sticking to the turf after kickoff and players not being able to see them. The close-up camera shots of players during the heaviest of flurries in the first half looked like it was absolutely brutal to play in. It was so cold that Girelli reacted in a very clear and distinct manner after being hit in the leg with a ball in the first half. This was Turin at its most December-y finest.
- What was Joe Montemurro’s outfit knowing full well there’s a snow flurry rolling through Turin? (One that caused the match to be delayed 45 minutes while they inspected the field and made the proper changes to things due to the weather.) Of course you want to see it.
- We’ll give Joe a pass in this case since it was such an extreme situation. It’s not like Joe was gonna bust out the good stuff and then freeze his tail off as the snow fell on his nice scarf. (He did still have the scarf on under the big Juve jacket, for the record.)
- Also taking a little bit of the shine off this win was the fact that Lineth Beerensteyn was injured late in the second half with Juventus up 5-0. Yes, that’s right, Beerensteyn was injured with the game decided with plenty of time to spare on a very bad tackle that should have never even been attempted. It did not look good for Beerensteyn’s ankle and based solely on her reaction to it, I would be surprised to see her play against Lyon next week.
- If Beerensteyn isn’t available, that could create a big opportunity for one of Juve’s young attackers, Agnese Bonfantini or Sofia Cantore. Montemurro could go with the more experienced option in Valentina Cernoia and play her in a more advanced role, but somebody like Bonfantini is always going to be a complete wild card because of her explosive ability on the wing.
- Juve attempted 27 shots against FC Zürich. That’s a lot.
- Pauline Peyraud-Magnin made three saves. All of them were pretty good.
- It’s always good when you’re up by a couple of goals and can basically put things into cruise control basically for the entire second half. Even then, Juve probably could have scored more than just a couple of second-half goals.
- I know Juve were playing the last-place team in the group and that their stats aren’t very good at all, but it sure was nice to see them record a clean sheet again. The defense has been a little bit all over the place this season — see the 4-2 win over Roma this past weekend as another example of that — and the defensive record isn’t what has been in past years, but clean sheets are always welcome.
- That said, who has allowed the fewest amount of goals in Group C? Ah, that’s right! It’s Juventus.
- Seriously, Girelli scored on a backheel and then followed it up with a paneka on a PK. When she’s feeling it, she has absolutely zero chill and will make you look silly at the same time.
- If this is the start of a Girelli goal surge, then we’re in for some good times come 2023. (And hopefully when Juve play in France next week. That sure would be nice.)
- Juventus Women in December: Win, loss, win, win. The last one in the big five-game stretch is nearly here and it’s going to be the biggest one of them all. Here goes nothin’, folks.