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EURO 2022

Italy squad for Women’s Euro 2022: player profiles - Giugliano, Sabatino...

These are the players Italy brings to try and end the group stage curse that began in 2001.

Luca Bianchin
Giulio Saetta
Update:
ACCRINGTON, ENGLAND - JULY 04: Barbara Bonansea, Lisa Boattin and Licia Di Guglielmo take part in an Italy Women training session at Accrington Stanley Community Trust Sport Hub on July 04, 2022 in Accrington, England. (Photo by Tullio M. Puglia/Getty Images)
Tullio M. PugliaGetty

As part of the Guardian’s Women’s Euro 2022 Experts’ Network, a collaboration between media outlets from 16 countries, AS is offering in-depth profiles of the players in all 16 squads at the tournament, which runs from 6 to 31 July. This lowdown on the Italy team is written by Luca Bianchin and Giulio Saetta from La Gazzeta dello sport.

GOALKEEPERS

Francesca Durante

Date of Birth: 12 February 1997 (25)

Position: goalkeeper

Club: Inter

“I used to play football and tennis at the same time. Then, at the end of one season, I realised I skipped every tennis tournament to play football.” That was the moment Francesca Durante decided to focus on football instead of tennis and here she is, Italy’s backup goalkeeper at the Euros after her first season with Inter. Won the Best Goalkeeper trophy at the Gran Gala of the Players Association in March 2022 and seems ready to challenge Laura Giuliani for a spot in the starting XI. A woman with various interests, Durante is studying Electronic Engineering (Biomedical curriculum) and loves to play the guitar. “I’ve always had a passion for studying,” she says. She has the capacity to surprise too and during the 2020-21 campaign, with Hellas Verona, she wore the No 2 jersey rather than the more predictable No 1.

Laura Giuliani

Date of Birth: 5 June 1993 (29)

Position: goalkeeper

Club: AC Milan

The Milan-born goalkeeper finally joined the rossonere in the summer of 2021 after winning four Serie A titles in a row with Juventus. The path to her hometown has been somewhat circuitous though. In September 2012, a year after her Serie A debut with Como, she took the unusual step of moving abroad, signing for the German club Gütersloh 2009. She spent five years in the Frauen-Bundesliga, then the best European league, but had to find extra work in order to earn a living. She worked in a factory, packaging DVDs, she was a waitress in a restaurant, a bartender and, at one point, doing night shifts at a bakery. “Being a baker was not easy,” she revealed during the 2019 Women’s World Cup in France, where the Azzurre surprisingly reached the quarter-finals. “But I told myself it was the only job I could do to be able to train during the day.”

Katja Schroffenegger

Date of Birth: 28 April 1991 (31)

Position: goalkeeper

Club: Fiorentina

Here we have a goalkeeper who could write her own profile. “I studied communication and I used to work as a content creator and a journalist,” she told La Repubblica last year. Schroffenegger certainly had a different upbringing to most of her teammates. She grew up in a small village in the Alto Adige mountains, where people speak German, not Italian: “I did climbing, chopped wood or worked at my family’s barn,” she said. A creative woman, she also studied Italian philology and loves cooking, drawing and making wood sculptures. Has had a tremendous career, playing for Bayern Munich, Bayer Leverkusen, Inter and now Fiorentina among others.

DEFENDERS

Elisa Bartoli

Date of Birth: 7 May 1991 (31)

Position: defender

Club: AS Roma

“Strength and honour, the rest is air and dust”. Those are the words, borrowed from the film Gladiator, on an armband that the Roma defender has worn and designed herself. And like the character played by Russell Crowe, Bartoli is a real fighter on the pitch. Sitting on the bench while Italy played Australia at the 2019 World Cup she told herself: “If I come on, I’ll make an impact. I don’t care who my opponent is. She could be the best player in the world, but she will not get past me”. Elisa was introduced as a substitute in the second half, with Italy trailing 0-1, and helped the team score two goals and win 2-1. An art lover, Bartoli has said she would have liked to meet the Italian painter Caravaggio, who lived towards the end of the 16th century.

Valentina Bergamaschi

Date of Birth: 22 January 1997 (25)

Position: right back – right midfielder

Club: AC Milan

The 25-year-old is the Milan captain and a dream player for any coach. She is utterly inexhaustible and can play on both flanks, taking care of offensive as well as defensive duties. Played in Switzerland between 2014 and 2017, winning the double in her last season with Neunkirch and ended as the league’s top scorer with 24 goals. Despite being only 25, she has been a fixture in the Italian national team since 2014, having won bronze at the Under-17 Euros and World Cup the year she made her senior team debut. “Why football?”, she once said. “Because as a child I had a severe pulmonary embolism and the doctor recommended a sport that would make me run a lot.”

Lisa Boattin

Date of Birth: 3 May 1997 (25)

Position: left back

Club: Juventus

“I did swimming and gymnastics as a child but on the day of my first recital I locked myself in my room and refused to go out. I felt ashamed of wearing a tutu.” So Lisa Boattin became a footballer instead, thereby fulfilling her father’s dream. Growing up as a juventina, Boattin once put a photo of herself watching Juventus live in Trieste in 2006 on Instagram. Now one of the leaders of the bianconere, she is sometimes given the captain’s armband and is considered a world-class left-back. Juventus have had several offers for her but always turned them down. Has somehow acquired strange nicknames such as “Fagiolo” (Bean) and “Cipollotta” (spring onion) from her teammates on social media.

Lucia Di Guglielmo

Date of Birth: 26 June 1997 (25)

Position: right back – left back

Club: AS Roma

Lucia di Guglielmo and the former Juventus striker Andrea Favilli, now at Monza, share a curious story. When they were children, they played together for six seasons, in the mixed team of Polisportiva Arci Zambra in Cascina, a small town near Pisa. They both made it to Serie A and they both played with the maglia azzurra (Favilli with the Under-age teams, Di Guglielmo with the senior team). A right back who can also play on the left, Di Guglielmo knows how to attack and defend, her speed an advantage in counterattacks. In addition she is also a good tackler. In 2019 she graduated from the University of Pisa with a degree in chemistry.

Maria Luisa Filangeri

Date of Birth: 28 January 2000 (22)

Position: defender

Club: Sassuolo

The young Sicilian defender surprisingly made the cut, thanks to her great determination. The same determination she had as a young child when she quit her ballet classes and, thanks to her aunt, started playing football. This is how Maria Luisa described herself from a technical and personal point of view: “I am determined, I never give up, I am a fighter. On the pitch, I grew up playing as a central defender in the back four. I certainly have a lot to improve.” In the last Serie A campaign she recorded 84% of tackles won, and an 80% pass completion rate.

Sara Gama

CASTEL DI SANGRO, ITALY - JUNE 27: Sara Gama of Italy Woman poses during the Italy Women Team Photo & Headshots photocall at Teofilo Patinio Stadium on June 27, 2022 in Castel di Sangro, Italy. (Photo by Tullio M. Puglia/Getty Images)
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CASTEL DI SANGRO, ITALY - JUNE 27: Sara Gama of Italy Woman poses during the Italy Women Team Photo & Headshots photocall at Teofilo Patinio Stadium on June 27, 2022 in Castel di Sangro, Italy. (Photo by Tullio M. Puglia/Getty Images)Tullio M. PugliaGetty

Date of Birth: 27 March 1989 (33)

Position: central defender

Club: Juventus

A true legend of the Italian game already, the Italy and Juventus captain is the first female vice-president of the Italian Players’ Association and has already been included in the Italian football Hall of Fame. Born in Trieste, she grew up playing as the only girl in a men’s team and in March 2018 she was one of of only a few women in the world to be made into a doll in the Barbie #MoreRoleModels campaign. A skilled central defender she is also a Ken Follet fan and a foreign languages graduate, fluent in English, French and Spanish. Has also featured in a clip on Cartoon Network as the star of a campaign called #iosonodiverso (#iamdifferent). A driving factor behind the campaign to make the women’s Serie A players professional, she told the Guardian: “I am quite practical and look at my realities: the first thing I need is to have the same working conditions as men, as this is a job we’re doing.”

Martina Lenzini

Date of Birth: 23 July 1998 (23)

Position: central defender – right back

Club: Juventus

Lenzini wore her first Juventus shirt in 1998. “I was a week old when a neighbour gave me a black and white onesie,” she said once. So, it was destiny. Lenzini signed for Juve in 2017 and, after a three-year loan at Sassuolo, she is now back in Turin with her former neighbour’s favourite team . A right back or central defender, Lenzini showed in 2021-22 that she can compete at the highest level, playing well in Juve’s Champions League run, including an excellent 0-0 draw away to Chelsea. In an interview with Corriere della Sera, she said that PlayStation was her main hobby, Money Heist (La Casa de Papel) was her favourite tv series and “The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari” by Robin Sharma was the last good book she had read.

Elena Linari

Date of Birth: 15 April 1994 (28)

Position: central defender

Club: Roma

“Per aspera ad astra” reads one of Elena Linari’s many tattoos, meaning “through difficulties, up to the stars”. One of the most challenging moments of her career, she has said, was the decision to come out as gay in 2019. “I was afraid of addressing the issue,” she said in an interview with Rai in 2019. “I didn’t know how people would react. I was afraid of other people’s judgment. However, in my private life I have to be free to do what I want.” Having played for Fiorentina, Atlético Madrid and Roma among others she has won three Italian league titles, one Spanish league and four Italian Cups. During the 2019 World Cup in France she was one of the two starting central defenders in a team that did not concede a single goal from open play in five games.

MIDFIELDERS

Arianna Caruso

Date of Birth: 6 November 1999 (22)

Position: midfielder

Club: Juventus

So young, yet so experienced. Caruso was the first player to win 100 games for Juventus and at 22 she is a key player for her club side as well as Italy. A skilful midfielder and a good reader of the game, Caruso is capable of scoring goals too, normally averaging six or seven goals in a Serie A season. Some of them are stunning too, such as the volley against Servette in the Champions League, a goal that would have made her idol Francesco Totti proud. In fact, Caruso was born in Rome and started playing football at the Totti Soccer School.

Valentina Cernoia

Date of Birth: 22 June 1991 (31)

Position: midfielder

Club: Juventus

When Cristiano Ronaldo signed for Juve, back in 2018, the Juventus Women fans started to call Cernoia VC7 because of her shirt number. Four years later, Ronaldo moved to Manchester but Cernoia remains in Turin, still fighting for the bianconere as well as the Italian national team. Definitely one of the best Italian players of her generation, she started out as a left-back and used to be a Milan fan. “Paolo Maldini was my example, as a man and as a captain,” she once said. As her career progressed, however, she developed into a fine midfielder with an exquisite left foot. She can play on both flanks though, as well as centrally. She has studied PE (physical education) and has said she would like to be a fitness coach after retiring from football.

Aurora Galli

Date of Birth: 13 December 1996 (25)

Position: midfielder

Club: Everton

The Azzurre player with “inside knowledge” when it comes to this summer’s Euros in England. After four Serie A titles with Juventus, Galli signed with Everton in June 2021 to become the first Italian player in the Women’s Super League, and has said it will be an honour to be the Azzurre’s guide during their stay in Manchester. “We are just a half-hour drive from Liverpool, so I have to decide where to take my teammates and what to show them. I am very happy that the event is here in England,” she said. In addition, Manchester seems a perfect city for a midfielder nicknamed “Yaya”. At Juventus the coach, Rita Guarino, moved her from being a defensive midfielder to more of a deep lying playmaker with an eye for a goal. She got 10 in 66 games for Juve and has a few for Italy too.

Manuela Giugliano

Date of Birth: 18 August 1997 (24)

Position: midfielder

Club: AS Roma

“Red Cloud” is the perfect nickname for Manuela Giugliano. Red is the colour of her hair while the cloud is a nice metaphor for her style of play, full of soft and elegant touches. One of Italy’s key players, she can be deadly with her incisive through balls. Despite being only 160 cm tall and weighing 47 kilos, Giugliano makes her presence felt in midfield in defence and attack. She has been able to grab her favourite number at her club Roma but for the national team the No 10 is taken. “No 10 has always been my number since I was a little girl,” Giugliano said in 2017. “But it is right that Cristiana Girelli has it [for Italy], she has been here for a long time”.

Martina Rosucci

Date of Birth: 9 May 1992 (30)

Position: midfielder

Club: Juventus

“When I was a little girl, I did not believe in fairy tales,” Rosucci once said. However, her life has turned out quite magical. She started playing football when her twin brother Matteo quit ballet classes to take up the sport. She grew up idolising Juventus legends Claudio Marchisio and Alessandro Del Piero and she now is a Bianconere star herself, wearing Marchisio’s No 8. The first ever Italian female footballer to play for an American college (UMass) in the NCAA set-up, Rosucci is a determined person and says she is gudied by the motto: “it’s all about confidence.” Not by chance, she is a respected leader for both Juventus and Italy.

Flaminia Simonetti

Date of Birth: 17 February 1997 (25)

Position: midfielder

Club: Internazionale

“Determination is my best quality on the pitch”, Simonetti once said. “I give everything because I am stubborn, I always want to help the team defensively.” This is how she persuaded coach Bertolini to include her in the squad. Simonetti can set the midfield tempo and score goals, and during the last Serie A season she led the charts at Inter for number of passes and tackles. In a memorable November, she was chosen as Serie A’s player of the month and selected by Bertolini for her debut against Switzerland. Answering a question about the Euros, she said that Italy “can reach the semi-final”. She has said that her grandparents have been her biggest supporters during her career.

FORWARDS

Agnese Bonfantini

Date of Birth: 4 July 1999 (23)

Position: right winger

Club: Juventus

“I have always been a Milan fan with Kakà and Stephan El Shaarawy as idols,” Bonfantini once said but she has somehow ended up playing for the other powerhouses in Italian football: Inter, Roma and Juventus. A speedy and technically gifted right winger, she has the energy and power to perform at the highest level and is likely to be one of the leaders of the Italian team going forward. “I like to run on the wing and help the team with my assists and score a few goals,” she explains. Told the Roma website in 2021 that her father is her greatest inspiration and that she wants to be a nutritionist when she finishes playing. Asked which three people she would want to meet, she replied: “Nelson Mandela, Alex Morgan and the Pope.” Plays with a hairband as a homage to her idol Morgan.

Barbara Bonansea

Date of birth: 13 June 1991 (31)

Position: forward

Club: Juventus

Became a proper national star at the 2019 World Cup when she scored two goals in Italy’s surprise win over Australia. After the game Rai, the Italian public television network, went to interview her parents, who used to follow her around in a camper van to watch her games. A winger with a rare ability to read the game and score goals, Bonansea was the first female Italian player to have Mino Raiola as her agent. Says she would probably have been a dancer if football had not worked out and has a tattoo of a Russian doll on her left arm as a tribute to her mum. Loves football and chose Cristiano Ronaldo as a role model back in 2004. One of her proudest days was in 2019 when she took the pitch at the Allianz Stadium to face eternal rivals Fiorentina in front of a record crowd of more than 39,000. “I suddenly burst into tears,” she said.

Valentina Giacinti

Date of Birth: 2 January 1994 (28)

Position: forward

Club: Milan

“My grandmother always gave me dolls as presents,” Valentina Giacinti once said. “But I took their heads off and played football with them. My parents soon understood that I had another passion”. Fast forward around 20 years and Giacinti is part of Italian football history. She has won three Serie A golden boots and has scored more than 300 goals. This summer’s Euros is an excellent chance to put a difficult season behind her, having fallen out with the Milan coach Maurizio Ganz and being sent to Fiorentina on loan. A forward in her mind and heart, she loves Alvaro Morata’s style of play while, when she was young, she had Christian Vieri as her idol. Among her passions are playing guitar, cooking, photography and playing the PlayStation.

Cristiana Girelli

Date of Birth: 23 April 1990 (32)

Position: striker

Club: Juventus

Music and goals. Cristiana Girelli is the star player of the Azzurre, a striker who scored three goals at the 2019 Women’s World Cup and helped Juve reach the 2022 Champions League quarter-finals. During the 2019 World Cup, Girelli – the unofficial DJ of the team – chose Macarena as the soundtrack of the competition for the Azzurre. Two years later, she was a special guest at Festival di Sanremo, a song contest extremely popular in Italy. A rare combination of strong will, personality, technique and ability, Girelli has more than 210,000 followers on Instagram. Among her favourite photos are the ones with Chicca, her niece: “She is my life. She is a gift to me,” Girelli has said.

Daniela Sabatino

Date of Birth: 26 June 1985 (37)

Position: striker

Club: Fiorentina

Sabatino is known as “Alta Tensione” (“High Voltage”), the same nickname given to Pippo Inzaghi by Milan fans. “I adore Inzaghi, he is my idol,” she said once. “We play football the same way, he was always hungry for goals and I have always admired the unbridled desire he had to improve.” Sabatino is the veteran of the Azzurre. Her debut in the national team came back in 2005 and, curiously, in 2010-11 she shared the Serie A top scorer crown with Patrizia Panico, now her coach at Fiorentina. In Italian football, she will always be an extraordinary example of longevity and passion for the game.

Martina Piemonte

Date of Birth: 7 November 1997 (24)

Position: striker

Club: Milan

Piemonte has often said that Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been an inspiration to her and here she is, a Milan striker just like Ibra. As happened to Ibrahimovic, Piemonte chose the rossoneri after a life full of experiences. In Italy, she has played for Verona, Roma and Fiorentina and she is one of the few players to have signed a contract for both Sevilla and Betis in Spain. Piemonte is a central striker but she does not want to wear the No 9 shirt, considered unlucky: “I only want my beloved number 18,” she once said. In England this summer, however, she will wear No 20. In 2015 she made the news after taking part in the auditions for Miss Italy, the famous beauty contest.

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