Serie A Femminile’s history is rife with players who’ve shouldered big responsibility in their teenage years, but I still double-take whenever I have to remind myself that Alice Corelli has yet to turn 18 years old. She was already earning the confidence of former head coach Betty Bavagnoli throughout last season, and her physical presence on the pitch demands that players a decade older (or more) have to think twice about getting isolated into a duel with Corelli.
For such a physically intimidating player, though, the biggest surprise is how much Corelli loves the ball at her feet; or that she even loves collecting the ball out wide on the flank in the first place.
Her possession play could be the source of her greatest strength, yet it could also be her downfall if the Roma forward continues to over-indulge in possession. The 2021-2022 season should be very revealing for Alice Corelli, with just as many peaks as valleys in her path ahead.
Number Six: Alice Corelli
Position: Wide Forward
Previous Club: N/A
Future Comparison: Lindsey Thomas
Who Is She?
Corelli hails from the A.S. Roma academy and shot through the ranks at a much earlier age than her peers. There were no loans, no outsourcing to feeder clubs, or anything of that kind in Corelli’s career path—we’re talking about a player who was discovered and incubated inside Trigoria from day dot.
The faith that Roma have shown in giving Corelli such a rapid rise to the senior squad is probably owed to the fact that the club has taken its time in attracting top attacking talent (in their prime years), which left an opening for Corelli’s particular brand of football to make an impression in Serie A and the Coppa last season. In years prior, however, Corelli has continued to make a difference at the international level with Italy’s youth teams. And how could she not?
Compared to her peers, Corelli is built like a tank straight out of the gate. But she also has the possession game to go with her physicality, which makes her a very a-typical kind of forward.
What Can She Do?
Half of Corelli’s unshakeable confidence starts with the ball at her feet (the other half with her physicality), and she’s been relied upon by Roma to come off the bench and safeguard a winning scoreline from the front. She can often dribble the ball down the flanks where opponents will struggle to dispossess Alice, and Roma saw a lot of joy killing off the game clock last season thanks to this option. But there’s a flip side to the coin, as Corelli can get over-elaborate with the ball when the score is level or Roma need a goal.
We’ve seen a lot of that this pre-season, where Corelli will be unleashed on the break and put through to attack the opponent’s backline in games, yet she will fumble her final-third decisions and turnover the ball from simply dwelling on it too long, or trying one trick in possession too many. At the U-19 level, however, Corelli was so dominant that she didn’t particularly need skill; she could just brush past players with her physicality and follow that up with a shot on goal.
It’s those kinds of physical take-ons that led to Corelli forming a lethal, prolific partnership with two different teammates in successive seasons for Roma Primavera. Even in last season’s 2021 title success, where Corelli featured far less for the U-19 team (due to her commitments at senior level), she put in a huge amount of work in the playoff season to keep Roma dominant in possession and maintain a constant shot-threat on the opposition goalkeeper.
That shot-threat has been lacking for Corelli at the senior level, but we’re confident she can find that missing gear in her arsenal sooner rather than later.
What Can She Become?
We couldn’t really do anything other than play the Lindsey Thomas card here, once more, as there as just so few forwards that can naturally embrace the kind of responsibilities that both Thomas and Corelli can do on the pitch.
Thomas’ departure for A.C. Milan wouldn’t have been in Roma’s ideal plans this summer, but the club decided to sign only one new wide forward (not counting the utility player Borini) in Benedetta Glionna, which means Alice Corelli being relied upon to step into Thomas’ shoes is even more true in the season to come.
Behind starters Glionna and Annamaria Serturini on both flanks, you have to figure that Corelli is penciled in as the first name off the bench to spell both those players on either side. Corelli can play down the left, down the right, and through the middle behind the striker if needed. Hell, she could probably even lead the line as a striker but she doesn’t seem as enthused by any role that could potentially take away time from her possession game.
It’s down to Corelli to find efficiency in the final third this season, in addition to finding balance between driving the ball and simply playing it quickly. Her physical presence really does give her the edge over most defenders, even at senior level, so the odds are she will strike that balance as one of Roma’s leading forwards to come before long.