Recap & Highlights: Italy 1-1 Spain; Women’s Friendly

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Women’s Euros is just around the corner and teams are adding finishing touches to their preparations. Spain faced off against Italy in their final preparation game before the Euros. The game ended in a 1-1 draw with both goals coming in the 2nd half.

Jorge Vilda lined up Spain in a typical 4-3-3 fashion. The attack was formed by the trio of Mariona Caldentey, Esther Gonzalez and Lucía García. Milena Bertollini, on the other hand, lined up in what looked like a 4-5-1, with Juventus’ Cristiana Girelli up top and Elisa Bartoli and Elena Linari forming the CB duo.

The first half ended goalless with Italy defending with very compact lines. Spain dominated the ball and kept the territory but Italy managed to keep them at bay. Without the ball Italy’s wide players were swift in dropping on the outside of the midfield line and one of the midfielders stepped up depending on the ball location. Spain found it tough to play through Italy’s compact lines.

Esther did have a couple of opportunities, one of them coming from a corner where she flicked the ball at the near post but it went over. She was relentless as usual with her press and manifested a shot via that.

Spain had 73% of the possession in the first half with 12 shots, in comparison to Italy’s 1, but only 1 of those 12 was on target.

Both teams made changes in the 2nd half. Spain replaced Mapi Leon with Ivana at CB while Italy brought on Flaminia Simonetti and Valentina Giacinti for Arianna Caruso and Barbara Bonansea respectively. Bertollini’s side quickly scored in the 2nd half from a corner situation. Esther’s loose marking of forward Bergamaschi allowed her to get in front of her at the back post to meet the delivery.

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Following the goal, Spain played with a lot of urgency. They were quick to attack down the other end and get shots off. Vilda made 3 changes in the 63rd minute with Cardona, Olga and Laia coming on for Esther, Leila and Patri respectively. This meant Lucía García was now playing as the striker. Spain were quick to move the ball out wide and look for crosses targeting onrushing midfielders.

Spain scored their equalizer in a similar fashion. In the 67th minute, Aitana spread the ball out wide for Cardona, whose cross was empathically put away by Alexia at the near post. Spain looked in the ascendency again after this.

Olga had a good game after coming on, adding a spur of energy with her lung bursting runs and offering an option in behind and stretching the field laterally. She defended well against threats on the break, putting her pace to good use.

In the 75th minute, Athenea and Irene came on to replace Mariona and Aitana. Spain managed to strike the crossbar from outside the box via Patri. As Spain amped up their attack, pushing everyone bar Ivana forwards, this allowed Bertollini’s side to look for opportunities on the break. Giacinti offered a good threat on the counter. The Italians were very smart in the way they used contact challenges to draw fouls and buy some breathing space.

Athenea was trying to take on players and do bits on the ball but the Italians were very good at denying her space and doubling up on her. She helped out Olga in defense a lot and made a couple of good runs out wide and in behind as an option. Ivana looked good when called into action, notably closing down Giacinti in the 81st minute, denying her a shot.

Spain would have hoped to end their preparation on a high with a win but the game raised some questions for Vilda to solve. They will play against Finland in their opening at the Euros on the 8th of July.

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