Italy v China | Round of Sixteen 2019
Italy will be the quarter-finalists ‘ lowest-ranking squad left (15). Due to objectives from Valentina Giacinti and’ super sub’ Aurora Galli, they secured their position in the last eight with a 2-0 win over China PR. At France 2019, Galli has three objectives now, all coming off the bench. For the first time since the inaugural edition in 1991, Le Azzurre returns to the quarter-finals of the Women’s World Cup, taking on either the Netherlands or Japan.
“We’ve done a good job. We need to do much better. We couldn’t win the game and I apologise to all the Chinese fans. We understood Italy very well and it was a good game. This is football. Whoever makes mistakes first, has to pay. The World Cup is a big stage and it makes us realise our shortcomings. We can’t dwell on the past or any past glories. Our girls have given their best. We are fully aware of our potential. We will reflect on everything well once we return home.”
Jia Xiuquan, China PR head coach
In five of their last six Women’s World Cup knockout stage games, China has now failed to score a objective.
Italy is the sixth European nation to advance to France 2019’s quarter-finals (and that number could go to seven if the Netherlands defeated Japan). Only three European teams made it to the quarter-finals at the 2015 edition of the Women’s World Cup, which was the first with the 24-team format.
“This squad is made up of girls who have a lot of quality. They are good footballers and they’re performing well here because of that. But there’s a further aspect. They have a mission. Their mission is to try and have the Italian public to discover and appreciate the women’s game. This aspect helps you because it allows you to find that extra energy and motivation. I really believe this side has allowed the women’s game to break new ground back home. We can see that from the viewing figures, what we see in the press and from the messages we receive from back home. We’re almost able to convey this football of change. It’s different than the game we’re used to seeing. It’s full of values—sportsmanship and values you see in society day-in, day-out. I know cultural changes take a lot of time. But this team are able to break down some of those prejudices and they are enacting change and that’s their mission.”
Milena Bertolini, Italy head coach
The three goals of Aurora Galli as a replacement at France 2019 are equal to the record set by Lisa De Vanna at the 2007 edition. In the quater-finals, Italy will play the Dutch v Japan winner.
Image: Kane Oosty/FIFA