They’ll fall short this season, but Piovani’s Sassuolo have serious title credentials

Date: 5th December 2021 at 7:54pm
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STADIO ENZO RICCI (Sassuolo) – One game shy of Serie A Femminile‘s first round of fixtures concluding, Juventus Women‘s win at Sassuolo on Saturday has likely gone a long way to determining where this season’s title will end up.

With it, the Bianconere pulled six points clear of their nearest chasers at the summit and extended their unbeaten run in Serie A Femminile to 50 games – last losing all the way back in March 2019 and doing so on that occasion to Sassuolo. Of those 50, the last 34 have been wins.

Gianpiero Piovani’s Neroverde came into Round 10 filled with confidence and hope despite not having played at their very best in their pre-international break fixtures. Prior to the break, Sassuolo had beaten Napoli 1-0, been shaky in their 4-2 win over Pomigliano, and lost to Roma.

There was a feeling that the November internationals came at a good time for the title hopefuls, and it allowed Piovani and his staff to have a long run-up at Juventus and their attempt at announcing themselves as the Old Lady’s equals.

On Saturday, despite falling to a 2-0 loss, they went some way to showing that they can compete with Juventus. In front of an impressive 1,537 crowd, the Neroverde were excellent and, for much of the 90 minutes, they were the better team. They looked composed in possession other than a couple of early moments of panic, but for the most part they kept Juventus at an arm’s length.

But the warning signs were there even in the first half. After weathering a brief five-minute storm that followed kick off, Sassuolo took over. Even then, though, Cristiana Girelli managed to work a shot from nowhere that hit the post and deflected away.

The scares that came in the second half were more damaging. Girelli got on the end of two crosses and scored two headers. Those three moments aside, Sassuolo were well on top.

Sassuolo have a Scudetto win in them

The 2021/22 title looks like it might well have been decided by now. With just six points splitting Juventus and Sassuolo before the midway point that may seem like jumping the gun somewhat, but the champions don’t drop points, winning each of their 22 Serie A Femminile games last season and losing just once in the first leg of their Coppa Italia semi-final against eventual champions Roma.

This Sassuolo side is still relatively new though, and each of their strike partnership of Sofia Cantore and Lana Clelland just joined the club over the summer.

But Gianpiero Piovani is clearly building something good at the Enzo Ricci, and the Neroverde will expect to find themselves competing with Juventus, AC Milan, and perhaps even Inter in an even more competitive Serie A Femminile next season.

Juventus just have too much

In the end, the game was decided by the depth that Juventus have at their disposal. Sara Gama was on the bench, and both Arianna Caruso and Valentina Cernoia were out. With Girelli, Barbara Bonasea, Lina Hurtig, and Agnese Bonfantini leading Juventus’ attack, though, they had more than enough firepower to threaten whenever they were able to venture forward.

That Joe Montemurro was able to turn to Andrea Staskova from the bench spoke volumes of the wealth of options he has in Turin, allowing Girelli to get some well-earned rest late on.

Juventus showed that, although the gap is being closed by Sassuolo, they are still comfortably Italy’s strongest side.

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