Milan set to battle Juventus for the Serie A Femminile title
Juventus dominate Serie A Femminile much like the men own their division, monopolising the silverware available to Italian female clubs. Two years competing in the women’s game, two league titles. While the likes of Brescia used to dominate the division, the impression is that women didn't play until the Old Lady approved.
Milan, also in their second season, have done everything right to rival the Bianconere. After four games, the rivals top the table, only separated by goal difference.
The two sides make up 61% of the Italian national squad who performed so gallantly in this past summer’s World Cup. In their first appearance in 20 years, the team placed fifth overall. There’s no doubt that women’s football in Italy is surging.
Cristiana Girelli powers both Juve and the Azzurri. In red-hot form, she's struck for 19 goals in her last 20 games. The 29-year-old is no stranger to success having won six Scudettos, six Coppas d'Italia and six SuperCoppas with Verona, Brescia and Juventus. Girelli has fantastic awareness in the box. She doesn't move too much. Finding a pocket of space and camping in it, she’s the blueprint target-woman. Get the ball to her; she’ll do the rest. This season, she has five goals in four league games.
Manager Rita Guarino is spoiled for choice up front. She's yet to deploy Barbara Bonansea, the Italian forward who ensured the national team’s advancement in the World Cup with 13 goals in qualifying.
Milan shopped in the summer to match the Zebras frontline. Dominika Conc has three for the season, including a brace in the Derby della Madonnina a fortnight ago.
Another key Milanese recruit is Stine Hovland. The Norwegian international signed from Sandviken. Serie A Feminile isn't as adherent to catenaccio as the men's side. Stine helps to correct that. With here in the lineup, the Rossonere have conceded just two goals in the league. Juve are now the irresistible force, Milan the immovable object.
Milan have more goals in them, however. Valentina Giacinti, a homegrown forward, began her professional career at the tender age of 15 and consistently scores more than 20 goals per season. Having finished as the division’s top scorer three times, there’s no reason to think she won’t be in the top echelon this year. The question is whether she and Conc have enough in them to unseat Juventus and bring the Rossonere their first Scudetto on the woman's side? Finding out should be great entertainment.
An acid test awaits Milan. They take on Fiorentina in their next match on 2 November. La Viola finished as last year’s second-placed team. Yet there’s no better time for the Rossonere to seize control of Serie A. Fiorentina will be softened by a cup match against Juventus this weekend. Without a doubt, Milan will be the fresher side. They can only blame themselves if they fail to seize the opportunity nudge the Old Lady of her perch at the pinnacle of Italian football.