Juventus Women had the unusual experience of learning what it must be like for most Italian teams to face them on Wednesday night, with the Bianconere going up against Chelsea in the Women’s Champions League.
Joe Montemurro’s side put in a good showing in front of a capacity crowd at the Allianz Stadium, despite often looking a little cagey in possession, particularly in the first half. Although they can look back on their night’s work and take a lot of positives, they ultimately ended the evening empty-handed as they fell to a 2-1 defeat, which is what so many of Juventus’ Serie A Femminile opponents are left feeling after they face the powerplay of Bianconere domestically.
Emma Hayes’ Chelsea were much more at ease on the ball early on, no doubt comforted by their experience in the competition, having reached last season’s final only to lose heavily to Barcelona.
The visitors dominated the possession stats, and in the opening 45 minutes they completed almost twice as many passes as their hosts, but the scores were level at the break after Barbara Bonasea cancelled out Erin Cuthbert’s opener.
Juventus were a threat to Chelsea
Despite not seeing as much of the ball and not being as precise as usual with their passing, the Bianconere were dangerous throughout and gave Chelsea a lot to think about.
While Cristiana Girelli didn’t enjoy as much success around the box as she’s grown used to in Serie A Femminile, her movement off the ball helped to drag Chelsea’s defenders around and open space for Lina Hurtig to move into and the Swede drove at the Blues’ backline on more than one occasion to give them cause for concern.
Bonasea was another to benefit from Girelli’s presence. Scorer of the first-half equalise with an instinctive, reactive, and excellent finish, Bonasea had come close with a header prior to volleying home the leveller.
Agnese Bonfantini’s introduction in the second half injected new life into the Bianconere’s attacks, and she looked to force a second equaliser right until the very end, again showing her continuous improvement since joining the club from Roma in the summer.
Chelsea’s irresistible front three
With Sam Kerr, Fran Kirby – regularly the best player in England – and Pernille Harder – the world’s best player in 2020 – Chelsea just had too much.
Kirby’s movement gave Juventus difficulty all night, and it was a clever run from the England international that opened the gap for Cuthbert to get into to open the scoring in the first half.
Harder had looked to get at Juventus whenever she found herself in possession as well, and her poacher’s instincts kicked in to allow her to pounce on a loose ball before any of Juventus’ defenders to put Chelsea back in front in the second half.
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