Bertolini happy with Italy Women’s World Cup opener: “Beccari and Dragoni play because they’re good enough”

Italy Women secured an important three points in their opening 2023 Women's World Cup game against Argentina, and coach Milena Bertolini is very pleased to have gotten off the mark at the first time of asking.

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Italy Women’s National Team coach Milena Bertolini has talked about how important it was for the Azzurre to get off to a strong start in their 2023 Women’s World Cup campaign, which they did with a 1-0 win over Argentina on Monday morning.

The match in New Zealand was a very tightly-contested affair in which both sides showed promise but ultimately lacked any real cutting edge. It was decided by a late header from Juventus Women‘s striker Cristiana Girelli, who had only just been introduced from the bench.

Whilst the performance may not have thrilled, it was vital to get three points on the board early to get a grip of second place in the group.

Bertolini pleased with early three points at Women’s World Cup

Cristiana Girelli celebrates scoring a late winner for the Italy Women’s National Team at the 2023 Women’s World Cup. (Photo: Getty)

Italy‘s group is arguably the most open in the entire tournament, as the Azzurre, Argentina and South Africa will all feel that they have a genuine chance of finishing second behind Sweden and qualifying for the Round of 16.

That is why Bertolini was very happy to have found the breakthrough late on, even more so considering Italy were marginally the better team over the course of the 90 minutes.

“We know how important it is to get off to a good start,” Bertolini told RAI (via Calciomercato.com) after the game. “It was a balanced match until the end, but the girls deserved the victory. Girelli is an added value to this team, a captain, she is always there, and when she comes on she does what she knows how to do.”

Bertolini puts faith in Dragoni and Beccari

Arianna Caruso of the Italy National Women’s Team up against Argentina’s Estefania Banini at the 2023 Women’s World Cup. (@AzzurreFIGC)

There was an element of surprise about Bertolini’s team selection for the match at Eden Park as 16-year-old Giulia Dragoni and 18-year-old Chiara Beccari both started the game, becoming the two youngest players to represent Italy Women at a World Cup.

The coach admitted that the pair had the occasional difficulty during the game, but they held their own. Dragoni played 83 minutes whilst Beccari played the entire game, with the former getting a better overall rating.

When asked about Dragoni and Beccari specifically, Bertolini said: “The girls were good, we had a bit of difficulty at the beginning but that was predictable. If they are here, it is because they have quality. Now we enjoy this victory, then we will immediately start working to prepare for the next game.”

Italy‘s next Women’s World Cup match will be a tougher test, as the Azzurre take on Sweden on July 29. Italy are second in Group G, behind Sweden who beat South Africa 2-1.

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