The Women’s National Team are in search of their fourth win from four in qualifying for the 2019 World Cup in France at the Antonio Coimbra da Mota Stadium in Estoril at 17:00 local time or 18:00 CET. For the first time, an Italy match will be shown live on the Nazionale Italiana di Calcio’s Facebook page.
Milena Bertolini hopes to continue on the path which has taken the Azzurre top of the group alongside Belgium with nine scored and none conceded. Portugal beat Moldova 8-0 but have only won two and lest seven of the previous meetings. “Compared to the teams faced so far, Portugal are an opponent on a higher level. They combine technical quality with physicality, they have fast forwards and different players in the top leagues. We need to be hungry and aggressive on the pitch, a difficult game is waiting for us but we have everything in place to do well.”
Milena Bertolini wants Italy to be pro-active and could change the system. A 4-4-2 is the usual option but attitude counts more than the system. “The team needs to be compact, we have to look to win the ball back straight away. The forwards need to be the first line of defence and the defenders need to know how to impose themselves on the play without ever being submissive.”
With Valentina Ceronoia and Alice Parisi out, along with Valery Vigilucci and Marta Carissimi, Federica Di Criscio and Flaminia Simonetti have been brought in. “We’re missing important players, but we need to overcome their absence and not think about individuals but of the group.”
After the men’s team missed out for the first time in 60 years, the women are looking to make it back into a World Cup finals for the first time in 20 years. “It’s a long and difficult journey,” added Bertolini. There’s five teams and three of us are playing for top spot to qualify while the four best runners-up will go to the play-off to reach France. The men’s elimination hurt us too, the Federation is a big family and perhaps this could give us something extra. I can see a lot of enthusiasm in the girls and this is an important point to start from.”
The full squad
Goalkeepers: Chiara Marchitelli (Brescia), Laura Giuliani (Juventus), Rosalia Pipitone (Res Roma);
Defenders: Elisa Bartoli (Fiorentina), Lisa Boattin (Juventus), Alia Guagni (Fiorentina), Cecilia Salvai (Juventus), Sara Gama (Juventus), Elena Linari (Fiorentina), Federica Di Criscio (Brescia), Linda Tucceri Cimini (Zaccaria);
Midfielders: Elisa Bartoli (Fiorentina), Lisa Boattin (Juventus), Alia Guagni (Fiorentina), Cecilia Salvai (Juventus), Sara Gama (Juventus), Elena Linari (Fiorentina), Federica Di Criscio (Brescia), Linda Tucceri Cimini (Zaccaria);
Forwards: Daniela Sabatino (Brescia), Ilaria Mauro (Fiorentina), Valentina Giacinti (Brescia), Cristiana Girelli (Brescia).
Staff – Delegation Head: Barbara Facchetti; Coach: Milena Bertolini; Assistant Coach: Attilio Sorbi; Secretary: Elide Martini; Fitness Coach: Stefano D’Ottavio; Goalkeeping Coach: Cesare Cipelli; Match Analyst: Marco Mannucci; Doctors: Matteo Guzzini, Marco Scarcia; Physiotherapist: Roberto Cardarelli, Maurizio D’Angelo; Nutritionist: Natale Gentile.
Results, standings and schedule for Group 6
15th September 2017: ITALY 5-0 Moldava
19th September 2017: Romania 0-1 ITALY
24th October 2017: ITALY 3-0 Romania
Standings: ITALY 9 points (3 games played), Belgium 6 (2), Moldova (2), Romania (3) and Portugal 0 (0)
The Azzurre’s upcoming fixtures
28th November 2017: Portugal vs. ITALY
6th April 2018: Moldova vs. ITALY
10th April 2018: ITALY vs. Belgium
8th June 2018: ITALY vs. Portugal
4th September 2018: Belgium vs. ITALY
The top teams from each of the seven groups will progress directly to the World Cup, while the four second best teams will take part in play-offs to see who’ll advance to France