There are big games, big players and there is Valentina Giacinti. The captain of AC Milan scored a brace to the history books tonight against FC Zürich and got them through the final of their mini tournament on the League Path on the UEFA Women’s Champions League.
AC Milan broke the deadlock with Giacinti after 33 minutes and had at least 3 clear goal chances to increase their lead. However, it was Mégroz who found the net for the hosts in the 67th minute. Luckily for us, only after 5 minutes on the pitch, Grimshaw had a quick pass exchange with Vero and gave a superb assist to Giacinti’s second and final goal in the match, sealing the victory for the rossonere.
This was a tense match for every player involved, but some points stood out in particular:
1 – Change of formation
After playing the whole pre-season in a 4-3-2-1 formation, Ganz decided to switch to the back 3 again, deploying the team in a 3-4-2-1 formation, with Fusetti, Agard and Arnadottir in the defensive line while Bergamaschi and Thrige played as wingbacks.
2 – Laura Giuliani, the multitalented and polyglot goalkeeper
During the first half we could hear Ganz screaming his lungs out to adjust his team and, of course, celebrate Giacinti’s first goal. However, in the second half, the gaffer almost wasn’t heard because someone on the pitch took the commanding voice responsibility on her shoulders.
Besides having proved to be one of the greatest goalkeepers around during this game, with at least 3 superb saves, Laura Giuliani is a communicative player, shouting instructions and advice to her teammates during the whole game, but what stood out is that she spoke not only in Italian, but in English to be understood by Arnadottir, Thrige, Stapelfeldt and Grimshaw and even some Spanish with Vero.
3 – Thrige is the offensive right fullback AC Milan needed
Our nº 3 had some good outings in the pre-season, but today she showed that Milan hit the jackpot. Sara, even playing as a wingback, was able to support the midfielders and get in the attack often, even giving the assist to Giacinti’s first goal.
4 – The rossonere must be more clinical in front of the goal
Even though Milan came out with a victory, the score should have been higher. Vero, Agard, Thomas and even Giacinti herself lost some very good opportunities during the game. The rossonere must keep in mind that these are Champions League games, and they must seize every chance to score.
5 – Next stop: TSG Hoffenheim
There is no doubt FC Zürich is a good team, perhaps at the same level as Milan, but they are past now. The match against TSG Hoffenheim is on a very different level as the Germans proved in their semifinal against Valur. While Zurich let Milan play their game, Hoffenheim will press high on the pitch during most of the game and strike fast with a lot of players simultaneously as they did against the Icelandic team.
The rossonere must be more accurate on their passing and, more important, must score when an opportunity arises.
The AC Milan Women will face TSG Hoffenheim on next Saturday, August 20, at 20:00 CEST, in the same Letzigrund stadium.