Serie A: The 2021/22 story so far (part one)

Arianna Caruso and Andrea Staskova of Juventus.
Arianna Caruso and Andrea Staskova of Juventus during the Women Serie A match against UC Sampdoria at Stadio Riccardo Garrone on 5 November 2021 in Genoa, Italy. (Photo by Getty Images)

The Serie A women’s league is at its halfway mark. 11 games down and 11 to go. With the league table now taking shape, there is no better time to round up and assess the progress of each side.

This first part of the round-up will focus on those sides who sit in the top half of Serie A.

Runaway leaders: Juventus

It was not so long ago that Juventus looked set to be involved in a fierce title race with Sassuolo. However, their performances of late have demonstrated why they have won the title in each of the last four seasons. A 2-0 victory over Sassuolo has helped the champions achieve a comfortable gap at the top. Meanwhile, their last league outing saw the Bianconere make a statement with a 5-2 victory over AC Milan. What makes those victories even more impressive is that they coincided with their final two Champions League group stage games. A goalless draw away to Chelsea provided a valuable point before a comfortable home win against Servette saw Juventus qualify for the knockout stages. When they return to league action, Joseph Montemurro’s side will look to extend their eight-point gap at the top.

Star player: Cristiana Girelli

Choosing a star player from this Juventus team is almost as tricky as trying to prize a point off the Italian Champions. There are so many contenders to choose from given the excellent defensive talent on show. Although, they also have a number of match-winners in the final third. However, with five goals and three assists in Serie A this season, we cannot overlook the performances of Cristiana Girelli. In particular, her brace against Sassuolo was incredibly important in Juventus’ quest to win their fifth consecutive league title.

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The race for second: Roma, Sassuolo, Inter and AC Milan

Although hopes of a title race may have dissipated, that does not mean the second half of the season will lack excitement. Only three points separate Roma in second place and AC Milan in fifth position. Unfortunately, unlike numerous other major European leagues, Serie A only has two allocated Champions League spots. With Juventus set to finish top, four teams will battle it out for an opportunity to compete with the best Europe has to offer.

Roma

One of the success stories of the season so far has been the side that operates in the Italian capital. Roma had to settle for a fifth-place finish last season, but they will head into the new year in second position. Having collected 25 points from 11 games, Alessandro Spugna’s side look set to surpass the 37 point total they achieved last season. Impressively, only Juventus have scored more league goals than Roma. Meanwhile, a strong defence has also been key, with Roma shipping just 10 league goals this term – only the league leaders have conceded fewer.

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Star player: Allyson Swaby

There is no question that Roma boast some fine attacking talent. In particular, Valeria Pirone and Annamaria Serturini have starred by scoring four league goals apiece this term. However, they have also been strong defensively, with three Serie A clean sheets to their name, and Allyson Swaby has played a key role in those superb defensive performances. The Jamaica international has been pivotal in a defence that has conceded more than one goal in a game just twice in the league this term. Unfortunately for Roma, they will lose Swaby after the Supercoppa as she departs to join Angel City in the National Women’s Soccer League.

Sassuolo

There may be an air of disappointment in the Sassuolo camp as they head into the winter break. For large parts of the season, they have been the side to occupy second position. However, in their last home fixture, they suffered a 2-0 defeat to Juventus, which saw their title hopes quashed. Then, their most recent Serie A outing ended in a 2-2 draw, with Inter’s Tatiana Bonetti scoring in the 90th minute to deny Sassuolo all three points.

Despite a disappointing end to the year, the third-placed side can be happy with the first half of the campaign, which resulted in eight victories from 11 games. Although, if they are to claim a Champions League place, their level of performance can not afford to drop.

Star player: Kamila Dubcová

Sassuolo have had two standout players in the first half of the season. On the one hand, Sofia Cantore has demonstrated her superb goal-scoring ability and has shown why she will develop into one of the best forwards in Europe. However, the performances of Kamila Dubcová are impossible to ignore. The Czech Republic international has showcased her incredible creative talents, with four assists this term. She also possesses an undeniable quality in front of goal, having scored on four occasions in the league this season.

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Inter Milan

Perhaps the side that enter the winter break in the highest of spirits will be Inter. The only downside for the fourth-placed outfit is that the winter break has come at the wrong time. Undefeated in their last six games in all competitions, Inter sit just three points adrift of second place. The standout moment from their season so far is undoubtedly the statement 3-0 victory over city rivals AC Milan. A dazzling 32 minutes saw Kathellen, Ajara Nchout and Ghoutia Karchouni all grab a goal apiece to guide Inter to a historic win. The biggest challenge will be to pick up where they left off when they return in January.

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Star player: Ajara Nchout

One player who will most definitely be ruing the winter break will be Ajara Nchout. Remarkably, all five of her goals have arrived in Inter’s last six league matches. The Cameroon international has netted in encounters with Roma, Juventus, Milan and Sassuolo, showing she can breach the defences of the very best teams in Serie A.

AC Milan

AC Milan may be grateful for the mid-season break, after losing two consecutive league games. A 3-0 defeat by Inter was followed by a 5-2 thrashing at the hands of the Champions. However, they can take confidence from their first nine games yielding 22 points. In those opening fixtures, they suffered just one defeat, and they will aim to reach those heights once again, when the league resumes in January.

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Star player: Valentina Giacinti

Giacinti’s impressive goalscoring form may suggest that this was a simple decision. However, one of AC Milan’s greatest strengths has been a defence that has kept six league clean sheets this season. Maurizio Ganz has relied on key individuals such as Laura Agard, Laura Fusetti and Guðný Árnadóttir, who have all been important in the defensive third. However, the goals of Giacinti cannot be ignored, and after netting in the league on seven occasions this season, she is firmly in the hunt to finish the season as the Serie A top scorer.

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