When you reach the knockout rounds of the Women’s Champions League in your first season as manager like Joe Montemurro did, it sets the bar high. For a club like Juventus that has won everything domestically and broke through on the European stage two years ago, the subsequent goal is to get back to that point in the tournaments to come.
A season ago, Juve fell just short of doing just that.
This season, though, they couldn’t make it out of the first qualifying mini-tournament.
Juventus Women’s European campaign has ended the same week that it got started, with the Bianconere falling on penalty kicks Saturday to Frauen-Bundesliga side Eintracht Frankfurt. Juve were unable to hold their slim 1-0 lead after Sofia Cantore scored the opener all of two minutes into the second half, and it was Frankfurt — who finished third behind Bayern Munich and (last season’s UWCL runner-up) Wolfsburg in the 2022-23 campaign — who took control of the game after that. Juve, clearly showing signs of fatigue as the game went on,
During the course of the penalty shootout, two Juventus players — Lineth Beerensteyn and Paulina Nyström — saw their attempts on goal saved, with Frankfurt able to seal their advancement to the next round of the UWCL qualification phase as a result of the latter’s miss.
That meant as the Frankfurt players were off to celebrate in front of their hometown fans, Juve were left to put their heads in their hands and wonder what could have been in Europe. And unlike last season or the year before that when Montemurro was just a few months into his tenure at Juve, they won’t even have the chance to take part in the UWCL group stage.
Did they get a hard draw right out of the gate? Yes, without a doubt. When you’re the team finishing behind the clear-cut two best teams in German women’s football and a solid team in your own right that gets to play on your home turf, you’re going to be the favorite. But for Juventus Women, this summer was about boosting the depth of the squad because of their ambitions in Europe. They improved their depth, they brought in players who can contribute right away but still have room to grow into their skillsets. This is a squad that is constructed to compete in Serie A as well as Europe.
Yet the European part won’t be there.
The European income won’t be there, either.
The hope of any Juve team playing European football at the Allianz Stadium this season is now officially gone with the Bianconere unable to get to the second phase of qualifying.
Montemurro had the following to say after his team was eliminated from the Women’s Champions League qualification phase:
“We’re disappointed and we paid for our mistakes. We’ll have a year without the Champions League and I feel sorry for the girls, but we have Serie A, the Super Cup, and the Italian Cup to try to win back. We have to keep raising our level and growing.
“Of course, I have to congratulate Eintracht. This is just football. Sometimes things go your way and sometimes they don’t.
“I have to watch the game again because I think we did enough in the first half, then we scored and after that I think we faded. I tried to change things a bit and refresh the midfield but then we went to penalties and from there it’s a lottery.”
The focus now clearly shifts to trying get the Scudetto back after Roma ended Juve’s five-year run of domestic dominance a season. Montemurro’s squad opens the Serie A season next Saturday on the road against Pomigliano.