European Champions Send Brave Italy Home

1 Jul

First things first – this match was HOT. So hot that both coaches requested that the match be moved into the later hours of the day, especially since there was no night match being held that night. Sadly, but not surprisingly, FIFA said no. However, both teams had to handle these scorching temperatures and they did have two “cooling breaks” so while it wasn’t great for either team, neither team had it worse than the other.

Regardless of the weather, the fans of the Oranje were out in force.

As were the Italians!

Claudia Umpierrez was the referee for this match and she was known for being tough. Both teams got an earful from her before the match was done.

The first half saw Italy with more of the chances but the passing and possession of the Dutch was quite impressive. Italy had a handful of opportunities but could not equalize on any of them. Bergamaschi had two good chances, one from Bonansea and the other from Giacinti but she fired right at the keeper for one and went wide for the other. She would rue these chances! Galli too missed a good opportunity with a missed kick. And Giacinti joined her teammates with a chance she’d want back when her shot went wide after a nice pass from Bergamaschi.

The second half was a different story, really. The Dutch not only kept their good possession stats but they also started to get some shots on target. At first they lacked any power to do any damage but as had been the Dutch way in this tournament, they started to get a bit more fire in the engine. Sadly for Italy, they too reacted similarly to their play in the rest of the tournament. They started to sag, due to fatigue and the heat.

Linari and Gama continued to hold the line for Italy and Giuliani was solid in goal but the midfield seemed out of sorts and it started to show. Both Van de Donk and Spitse had very good chances. Spitse’s was off by mere inches.

I mentioned earlier that Claudia Umpierrez, the Uruguayan referee, suffered no fools. To prove my point, she had words with Giuliano, Van de Donk and Guagni all within about five minutes. Only Guagni ended up with a card.

I made the mistake of mentioning aloud that Miedema seemed to be missing in action and of course, seconds later, she scored on a great header after receiving a fantastic ball from Spitse. She placed it perfectly in the far corner, just away from Giuliani’s fingertips.

Sadly you could see the wind come right out of Italy’s sails and then the stupid fouls started. Both Cernoia and Sabatino committed dumb unnecessary fouls that wasted time that Italy could have used to equalize. Both got cards and Cernoia would have missed the semis if they had gone through. Yes, they were hot and discouraged but these fouls were so counterproductive and they’ll need to work on that when they start their campaign for the Euros.
The Dutch second goal was quite similar to their first. Again, it came off a set piece and was placed in a spot just beyond the reach of Giuliani. This time it was van der Gragt who launched herself up for a fantastic header.

Defender Stefanie van der Gragt added the sealing goal for the Netherlands on Saturday with a header in the 80th minute during a 2-0 victory against Italy in a Women’s World Cup quarterfinal match in Valenciennes, France. The Netherlands and Sweden meet in the semifinal on Wedneday.

It was basically over after that. Miedema and Martens got off a few shots and Galli and Sabatino tried to get something working but nothing of substance came of it.

The Italians look gutted when the final whistle went off and they were clearly exhausted. However, they did far better than anyone expected and had a wonderful tournament. They captured the imagination of their countrymen and women and also showed what investment in a women’s league can do for the national team. They were fun to watch (if you ignore the Macarena, perhaps) and I expect that they will be back for more sooner than we think. Ciao, Azzurre – but only for now!

The Dutch were the better side but it took them a LONG time to show any results for their hard work. Their possession and footwork were superior. However, the majority of their goals so far have come late in the match. This may cause them some trouble with Sweden on Wednesday when they meet them in the semi finals. It should be a great match.

Stade de Hainaut, Valenciennes , France
Attendance 22,600
Referees: Claudia Umpierrez (URU), Luciana Macarana (URU), Monica Amboya (ECU), Qin Liang (CHN)
Line ups:
ITA: Giuliani, Guagni, Gama (Captain), Linari, Bartoli (Boattin, 46’), Bergamaschi (Serturini, 75’), Galli, Giugliano, Cernoia, Giacinti, Bonansea (Sabatino, 54’)
NED: Van Veenendaal (Captain), Van Lunteren, Van Der Gragt (Dekker, 87’), Bloodworth, van Dongen, Groenen, van de Donk, Spitse, van de Sanden (Beerensteyn,56’), Miedema (Roord, 87’) Martens

– ForzaSusan

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