Heading into the 2022/23 Serie A Femminile season, there were plenty of unknowns. The league had been cut to 10 teams and it is the first season where after playing each other twice, the ten sides have been split down the middle.
The Scudetto pool will fight it out for the title and the UEFA Women’s Champions League (UWCL) places, whilst the survival pool are trying to avoid the automatic drop or the play-off against the second-placed side in Serie B.
One thing that was expected, though is that the top scorer and stand-out player of the first 18 games would be from Juventus or AS Roma, given their clear superiority over the rest of the league. That is not how it has panned out.
Chawinga leads the way
Whilst the likes of Valentina Giacinti, Martina Pieminte and Cristiana Girelli have been very readily among the goals this season, it is Tabitha Chawinga that tops the scoring charts having netted an impressive 16 times in 18 Serie A Femminile games.
That puts her four goals ahead of second-placed Girelli, and seven ahead of Giacinti, Piemonte and Andressa Alves who has really found her goalscoring touch for AS Roma.
As well as the 16 goals, Chawinga has also grabbed six assists, meaning she is by far the most productive attacking player in Serie A Femminile this season. Her Inter side are five points behind Juventus who occupy the second UWCL spot and with Chawinga in such great form, along with the likes of Elisa Polli (nine goals) and Ghoutia Karchouni (six goals), they will back themselves to snatch that place should there be a slip-up from the Bianconeri.
It would be fair to assume that the rest of Serie A hates Chawinga. The direct manner in which she runs through defences, coupled with an incredible finishing technique, means that she has made a lot of defences and individual defenders look very silly.
One of her best moments was when whilst still carrying an injury, she was introduced off the bench against Parma in the 75th minute with the Nerazzurre surprisingly 2-1 down. Within four minutes, she had netted the equaliser without breaking a sweat.
Inter must hard work to keep Chawinga
The unfortunate side of a player being so impressive in Serie A Femminile is that it immediately suggests they could be poached by a more-established league that operates at a higher level.
The rest of Europe will have noticed that Chawinga is the top scorer in a league where the quality is growing and teams are getting through their UWCL groups. The one thing with the star from Malawi is that she offers almost nothing in defence. She ranks very low when it comes to tackles, interceptions and blocks. She is something of a passenger in that regard, which is fine if she is banging in the goals.
Were she to sign for a WSL side for instance, she could have a lot more asked of her in regard to the system the team is playing, which could limit her attacking output. At 26 years old, she may well be able to adapt, but she can often look like a one-dimensional player. That one dimension has been devastatingly effective, though.
Inter are a club heading in the right direction under Rita Guarino and they could be genuine title challengers next season if the squad is kept together. Chawinga is a crucial element of it.
Serie A Femminile Matchday 18 results
|Date||Serie A Femminile Results|
|Sat, Feb 25||Inter 3-1 Fiorentina|
|Sat, Feb 25||Pomigliano 0-2 Sassuolo|
|Sun, Feb 26||Sampdoria 0-1 AS Roma|
|Sun, Feb 26||Como 0-4 AC Milan|
|Sun, Feb 26||Juventus 2-1 Parma|
Serie A Femminile table after Matchday 18