Azzurre: What happened to Italy at the last Women’s World Cup in 2019?

With Italy readying themselves for the 2023 Women's World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, we've revisited the 2019 edition when the Azzurre equalled their best-ever performance at the tournament.

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Italy are heading into the 2023 Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand at a bit of a crossroads this summer. Not only was qualification a little more complicated than the Azzurre would have liked it to be, but the memories of last year’s collapse at the European Championship are still fresh in the minds of coach Milena Bertolini and everybody around the squad.

Drawn in Group G with Argentina, South Africa and Sweden, the Azzurre will have their work cut out for them if they are to make it through to the knockout round. Last summer, Italy finished rock bottom of their 2022 Women’s European Championship group with France and Belgium advancing and Iceland finishing third ahead of a disappointing Azzurre.

Now, with a more complicated group awaiting, Bertolini and Italy know that they will have to be at their very best to stand any chance of getting beyond the first hurdle.

How did Italy do at the 2019 Women’s World Cup?

Group stage

Italy’s involvement at the 2019 Women’s World Cup came as a pleasant surprise, and it was the Azzurre’s first time at the tournament in 20 years, having qualified previously as far back as 1999.

Drawn from Pot 3 into a tricky Group C alongside Pot 1’s Australia, Pot 2’s Brazil and Pot 4’s Jamaica, not many backed Italy to do anything in France that summer. But the Azzurre got off to an excellent start as they claimed a 2-1 win over Australia, with a Barbara Bonansea brace – the second coming in the 95th minute – overturning Sam Kerr’s opener to claim three points.

A Cristiana Girelli hat-trick and two from Aurora Galli saw the Azzurre comfortably beat group minnows Jamaica 5-0, securing their qualification for the knockout rounds. They then lost 1-0 to Brazil after a second-half penalty from Marta.

Knockout rounds

Italy found themselves drawn against China in the Round of 16, with the Asian side having qualified from a Group B that contained Germany, Spain and South Africa. Again, Galli was on target after Valentina Giacinti’s opener and Italy won 2-0 to reach the quarter-finals.

The quarter-finals would see Italy meet the Netherlands, which proved a bridge too far for the Azzurre. Vivianne Miedema broke the deadlock midway through the second half and Stefanie van der Gragt – who would later join Inter – got a second to end the Azzurre’s journey in France.

The Netherlands would go on to eliminate Sweden and reach the final, only to lose to the United States.

In the end, Italy made it as far as the quarter-finals at the 2019 Women’s World Cup, which equalled their best-ever showing at the tournament.

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