Serie A femminile is still on an international break, while the men’s Serie A still can’t decide what to do with itself. The hierarchy of international tournaments in women’s football is still a puzzle to me, but it looks like the world’s top four nations decided to have their own private tournament in the Stateside SheBelieves Cup. That left Elisa Bartoli’s Italy to play in the much more fun and widely-participated Algarve Cup, for the first time in 12 years.
Elsewhere, Andressa’s Brazil chose to compete in France’s modern version of Le Tournoi.
Italy Reach Algarve Cup Final: Bartoli Plays, Giugliano Benched, Bonfantini Now a Striker?
When Italy CT Milena Bertolini’s initial squad selection was published, the Milan-based players were understandably in the mix, but then they dropped out, and a last-minute promotion from the U-23s gave Agnese Bonfantini the opportunity to build on her 2019 Italy senior debut that, at the time, wasn’t deemed enough to make the World Cup last summer.
After this week, however, Bonfantini has not just two but three appearances, as she came off the bench in both of Italy’s tournament wins and may feature in the final on Wednesday against Germany. The interesting talking point here is that Bertolini’s squad selection always had a two-striker formation written all over it and, sure enough, Italy have played in a 4-4-2 diamond for their wins over Portugal (2-1) and yesterday's semi final victory over New Zealand (3-0).
That meant Bonfantini coming on as an 89th-minute substitution up front, seeing just enough action to celebrate alongside Cristian Girelli, as Girelli scored a winning penalty against Portugal in the dying moments of injury time.
Last night, Bonfantini saw 20 minutes of action up front after replacing striker Stefania Tarenzi. No goals for Bonfantini just yet, but this could be a hint for the Roma forward’s future at club level. Roma can do a much better job at involving Bonfantini in the team’s chemistry long-term, and maybe it’s time for Betty Bavagnoli to consider putting even more focus on getting Bonfantini playing off the last defender’s shoulder in Serie A.
Perhaps even a move to prima punta beckons next season, though you can still achieve the same effect playing Bonfantini from her current role as Roma’s inside forward.
Meanwhile, Roma captain Elisa Bartoli came off the bench for the entire second half of the win over Portugal, and played all 90 minutes of tonight’s semi-final win. Italy always come away with a more dominant scoreline when Bartoli is in the starting lineup.
In stark contrast to her Roma club-mates, Manuela Giugliano has been firmly rooted to the bench by Bertolini. Giugliano is still on a road to full match fitness in 2019-20, and has seen her role in the Italy side taken over by Juventus’ midfield quartet, with even Sassuolo teenage midfield talent Marta Mascarello favoured over Giugliano at times.
Italy will now face Germany in Wednesday’s Algarve Cup final.
Amalie Thestrup Sits Out Denmark’s Derby Victory
Defensive forward Thestrup’s work rate cannot be questioned, even if the scoring side of her game has come up against new challenges in Rome. Thestrup made a substitute appearance in Denmark’s opening game defeat at the Algarve Cup, and stayed on the bench for the entirety of today’s 2-1 victory over Scandinavian rivals Sweden.
Thestrup’s Denmark will now play for 5th place, in Tuesday’s round of Algarve Cup playoffs.
Andressa’s Brazil Draw Blanks in Le Tournoi
Andressa has started both games for Brazil in the French-hosted mini-tournament, but a goalless draw against World Cup finalists Netherlands and tonight’s 1-0 loss against hosts France is all-she-wrote for the women in gold-and-green.
They still have a shot at winning their final game of the 3-game Tournoi, this coming week, but the sun is now setting on Marta’s generation. Brazil will have to come up with new ideas for their attack if they’re to make the most of this summer’s Olympics, where 27-year-old Andressa will be dreaming of playing at the vanguard of their campaign.
Italy U-23s Finish Up Coverciano Training Camp
It’s a testament to Angelica Soffia’s progress with Roma that the full-back is still hanging tight at U-23 level, completing a ritiro week at Italy’s home base this past week. Soffia trained alongside fellow club-mates Giada Greddi and Annamaria Serturini.
The 5-day Coverciano ritiro was capped off with a friendly game behind closed doors against the Empoli men’s U-15 side. But good luck getting any kind of match report on that game, as we couldn’t find one anywhere.
And, if you ask me, Tecla Pettenuzzo missing out on a call-up was a mystery all round.
Heden Corrado Watches Disaster Italy U-19 Defeats From Bench
We continue to believe that, one day, Heden Corrado will walk right into the heart of Roma and Italy’s defence to lead their play out the back for years to come. But today is not that day.
Corrado, still on the road to recovery from her ligament problems of last season, has witnessed Italy U-19’s nightmare run in the La Manga tournament from the bench; the Azzurine went down by 4 goals at half-time against the Norway U-19s, in the opening game, on the way to a 5-1 defeat.
Italy coach Corradini cited the lack of opportunity to train together - amid the Corona virus scare - as the core reason behind that loss. However, just today, the results got even worse at Italy suffered a mammoth defeath 7-1 at the hands of Iceland. Italy have just one game left on Monday, against Switzerland, to try fixing things.
Come back for our coverage of Italy's Algarve Cup Final matchup against Germany later in the week!