A second-half strike from Arianna Caruso ensured that new Italy Women’s National Team coach Andrea Soncin got off to the perfect start in the role. The Azzurre beat Switzerland 1-0 away from home to get their UEFA Women’s Nations League campaign underway.
With controversy surrounding Soncin‘s appointment as Milena Bertolini‘s successor after a catastrophic 2023 Women’s World Cup, a win was needed to keep those who questioned his appointment from again raising questions about his suitability for the role. Although the new coach made some changes to the Azzurre side seen in Australia and New Zealand, it was a familiar old story for much of the game in St. Gallen.
In the end, though, Caruso stepped up to do what she so often does for the Azzurre and for Juventus Women and forced a goal with a well-taken effort that was enough to claim all three points.
While many of Bertolini‘s choices for the Women’s World Cup squad were applauded, a number of others caused division within Italian women’s football. The decision to overlook Martina Piemonte was hard to comprehend, as was the omission of long-term captain Sara Gama. Soncin, in his first squad in charge, recalled both and others, including Everton midfielder Aurora Galli.
With both Galli and Piemonte featuring from the off, there was no place for Gama in his starting XI, instead opting for an AS Roma-heavy backline of Elisa Bartoli, Elena Linari and Lucia Di Guglielmo (all Roma), and Juventus‘ Martina Lenzini.
Beside Galli in midfield were Caruso and Roma‘s Manuela Giugliano, while the frontline was led by Piemonte with Sofia Cantore (Juve) and Valentina Giacinti (Roma) supporting the new Everton signing.
One of the surprises was the exclusion of Giada Greggi, though the Roma linchpin came on for the final 10 minutes of the 90.
Caruso strike avoids more frustrating discussions… for now
Arianna Caruso is as prolific a midfielder as they come, and her strike was her 13th for the Azzurre, and she’s just two shy of half a century with Juventus. So, then, there was no real surprise when the ball fell her way in the area that she was able to expertly guide it into the top corner, less than two months after her brace against South Africa in New Zealand.
Beyond Caruso‘s strike, though, the Azzurre struggled to carve out too many opportunities. They had half-chances, but they never managed to do too much to open Switzerland up. Instead, they were lucky by the end to hold on for three points when Alayah Pilgrim went through on goal and saw her shot hit both posts before bouncing clear.
The inclusion of Greggi in the XI and Barcelona teenager Giulia Dragoni too would allow for more purposeful use of the ball, but it remains to be seen how Soncin will look to set his Azzurre out to play. Next up is a tough test against world-ranking leaders Sweden, with world champions Spain also involved in a tricky Women’s Nations League Group A4.