In their first FIFA Women’s World Cup in 20 years, Italy were one of the surprise packages of the 2019 tournament. They surpassed expectations and topped a group that included Brazil and the 2023 tournament co-hosts, Australia. They then went on to beat China in the Round of 16.
The Italians remarkable run in the tournament came to an end where it started. On June 29, 2019, the Azzurre fell to the Netherlands by a score of 2-0 in Valenciennes, France. And though their journey in that tournament came to an end, it set off a chain of events in the country. Eventually, the incredible tournament run led to the professionalism of the women’s game in the peninsula.
Though the professionalism has elevated the women’s game, it seems like the Azzurre continue to remain in a state of stasis. The team disappointed during last year’s EURO competition, where they exited in the group stage and ignominiously finished last in their group. Coach Milena Bertolini partially blamed their lackluster performance on the lofty expectations that were placed on the team before the tournament.
In reality, the disappointing performance was down to a combination of things, including the mental aspect of it. Bertolini is very pragmatic and is not someone that exudes a lot of confidence. This is evident by some of her more conservative tactical choices. This attitude has apparently rubbed off on her players, too.
However, Italy will have to learn to gain confidence though if they are to progress through this year’s World Cup. Italy will open their tournament on July 23, against potential spoilers Argentina. Here’s a preview of how Italy might fare during this summer’s World Cup.
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