The AC Milan Women began the Serie A Femminile season by taking on Florentia at the Vismara.
The match, unfortunately, didn’t live up to expectations. Milan seemed to pick-up where they left off last season, in that they were a team that was slow to move the ball around and wasn’t clinical in front of goal.
This aside, the team at least managed to pull off a victory and start the season on the right foot.
The first half
The first half started off with the Rossonere on the front foot. Giacinti’s had a chance to take the lead at the fifth minute. Sadly, the shot did not find the back of the net.
The Rossonere captain had another chance a few minutes later on the 12 minute mark, but that went over the bar. New signing Natasha Dowie also had her own chance to make a mark at around the same time. However, she failed to convert her shot as well.
It wasn’t until the 15th minute that things did change. The deadlock was finally broken by Miriam Longo, who made good on all the promises she has made.
Sadly, Longo went off just a few minutes later, after she acerbated a shoulder injury while celebrating her goal with a team-mate.
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Newcomer Caroline Rask had to take her place. Fortunately, Rask performed well during her debut and that made Longo’s loss a bit more bearable.
Midfielder Refiloe Jane had her own chance on target at the 31st minute. Alas, that went over the bar.
The first half was marked by the Rossonere dominating possession, but failing to make good use of the ball when they had it.
The second half
The second half started off where the first half left off. The game did take a slight turn when coach Maurizio Ganz decided to substitute out Refiloe Jane and Christy Grimshaw for Claudia Mauri and Sara Tamborini.
Grimshaw’s substitution was necessary, as the midfielder struggled in the role of a trequartista. Perhaps it was just her getting used to the pace of Italian football, but the midfielder did not have a great game.
Sara Tamborini’s introduction was a great move by Ganz, as she changed the pace of the game with her entry. The young midfielder slotted into the role of trequartista and proved to be the spark that Milan was missing in the first half.
Unfortunately, her substitution might have been too little too late, as the forwards couldn’t make good use of the chances she created for them.
The second one was practically a mirror of the first half, with the Rossonere shooting blanks and failing to convert their chances. No more was this evident then with Dominka Čonč’s shot that just went wide of the target in the 79th minute.
Florentia also found themselves becoming more bold and had a few chances of their own. Thankfully, they failed to convert any of them, due in large part to the strength of Milan’s Korenčiová, who thwarted whatever chances they had on targer.
In the end, the Rossonere emerged from the game as victors as they won the match 1-0. They also kept a clean sheet as well.
Milan had 60% possession while Florentia had 40%. The Rossonere also had twenty shots compared to the Neroverde’s nine. Milan also had four corners as well. And yet, despite their statistic superiority, the team could only convert one shot on target.
Perhaps it was a matter of the team shaking off their rustiness (as prior to today, they had not played a competitive match in five months), but the team was not clinical in front of goal.
They had chance after chance to score but failed to convert most of them. The team will need to be more clinical in front of target in order to ensure that they don’t repeat the same mistakes of last season.
Laura Fusetti, Dominika Čonč and Mária Korenčiová.
All three of them were instrumental in making sure the game ended in a victory for the Rossonere. Čonč performed admirably in the midfield, as she made key interceptions for the team and helped direct play with her passing.
Goalkeeper Korenčiová also made sure that Milan kept a clean sheet as she parried the few shots that were sent her way.
Special praise must given to Milan’s vice-captain, Laura Fusetti. The centre-back is the glue that holds Milan’s backline together. Her speed and ability to read the game are unrivalled, and she made crucial interventions for the team at the right moments.
Without her, Milan would have either tied or even lost the match.
An honourable mention must be made for the previously mentioned Sara Tamborini.
Her substitution into the match changed the pace of the game for the Rossonere. Perhaps we’ll see her fielded more in the future and after this match, she has definitely earned her place on the team.
Room for improvement
Perhaps it’s because they’re just getting used to one another, but the interplay between Valentina Giacinti and Natasha Dowie left much to be desired.
Rather than passing the ball to one another, or to their teammates, the two of them decided to go for glory and to try to score themselves.
It was one of the main reasons why the match ended in a 1-0 scoreline, despite Milan having twenty shots in the game.
Coach Maurizio Ganz acknowledged this in a post-match conference with Milan TV.
“We need to be able to play better and to [learn to] play together, because it seemed to me that everyone was playing for themselves. There are still so many things to improve.”
The chemistry between the two main strikers is something that will need to be worked on, and will hopefully come with time.
Several of the team members are also new to Italy and Italian football, and will also need time to adjust to the country’s game.
Ganz seems to realize this. If the team are to meet all of their objectives for the season (including Champions League qualification), this is something that will need to be worked on.
Milan will play their next match against debutants San Marino on Sunday, August 30th.
San Marino took a heavy beating from another Tuscan side, Empoli, earlier today.
Milan will be looking to improve on their performance from this match and to be more clinical during the next match.
We’ll see if they’ve learned their lessons from this match once they take the field again next Sunday.