How did Italy qualify for the 2023 Women’s World Cup?

Italy will soon be getting underway at the 2023 Women's World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, but how did the Azzurre manage to qualify for the tournament?

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When the Italy Women’s National Team walk out alongside Argentina in their opening game of the 2023 Women’s World Cup at Eden Park in New Zealand, few will care how the Azzurre secured their place on the global stage this summer and will start dreaming of winning the tournament.

However, reaching the competition is also the culmination of four years of hard work in the wake of a quarter-final exit in 2019 at the hands of the Netherlands.

So how exactly did Italy qualify for the Women’s World Cup?

Girelli’s goals fire Italy to top of Group G

Italy Women’s starting XI against Switzerland in a Women’s World Cup qualifier. [@AzzurreFIGC]

Juventus Women striker Cristiana Girelli was at the peak of her powers during the qualifying campaign, with only Switzerland’s Coumba Sow scoring more goals than the 33-year-old in Group G. The Bianconeri star netted in half of the Azzurre’s matches.

However, although Girelli scored a hat-trick against Romania during a 5-0 victory, there was one goal that mattered more than all others, as the former Brescia player scored an 83rd-minute winner away to Switzerland, that gave Italy a two-point advantage at the top of the group ahead of their neighbours.

The group contained Italy, Switzerland, Romania, Croatia, Lithuania and Moldova and it ended with the Azzurre securing automatic qualification, whilst Switzerland had to go through the playoffs.

PositionTeamWonDrawLostGoal differencePoints
1.Italy901+3827
2.Switzerland811+4025
3.Romania613+1019
4.Croatia316-1210
5.Lithuania127-285
6.Moldova019-481

Defence key for World Cup qualification

Elisa Bartoli on the ball in World Cup qualification. [@AzzurreFIGC]

In 10 qualification matches, Italy kept an astonishing nine clean sheets to help them finish with a goal difference of plus 38, but when their defensive resolve was finally overcome on Matchday 5, it could have had disastrous consequences.

Main rivals Switzerland travelled to the Stadio Renzo Barbera and raced into a 2-0 lead within 20 minutes, with Sow and Ana-Maria Crnogorcevic scoring in Palermo, which ultimately saw them triumph 2-1. Crisis was averted when Girelli’s solitary strike in the reverse fixture saw Italy edge ahead of them in the standings.

StadiumResult
Stadio Nereo Rocco, TriesteItaly 3-0 Moldova
Stadion Branko Čavlović-Čavlek, KarlovacCroatia 0-5 Italy
Stadio Teofilo Patini, Castel di SangroItaly 3-0 Croatia
LFF Stadium, VilniusLithuania 0-5 Italy
Stadio Renzo Barbera, PalermoItaly 1-2 Switzerland
Stadionul Anghel Iordănescu, VoluntariRomania 0-5 Italy
Stadio Ennio Tardini, ParmaItaly 7-0 Lithuania
Stockhorn Arena, ThunSwitzerland 0-1 Italy
Zimbru Stadium, ChisinauMoldova 0-8 Italy
Stadio Paolo Mazza, FerraraItaly 2-0 Romania

You can find out absolutely all you need to know about the Azzurre heading into the Women’s World Cup with our full guide here.

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