After an eventful and busy summer for women’s soccer, players have returned to their European clubs to get league play started for the 2021-22 season. Some leagues have expanded, while others have brought in extra stars, as they all seem to gain exposure each year. This is the third installment of a five-part series looking at some of the top leagues in Europe.
Serie A (ITA)
2020-21 Champion: Juventus – 66 points (22 games)
2020-21 Golden Boot: Cristiana Girelli, Juventus – 22 goals
How to watch: Team websites
First match: Roma at Empoli, 11:30 a.m. ET, Aug. 28
Final matchday: May 15, 2022
They may still be trying to make more noise when it comes to international competition, but, after going a perfect 22-0-0 in the league last year, there’s really no reason to doubt Juventus as the Italian favorite. There is a managerial change to worry about and some key players lost, but it’s hard to argue against the talent remaining on the roster. The attack will still include Cristiana Girelli, who has been a goal scoring machine for the club since its first season. She is joined by former World XI player Barbara Bonansea and summer breakout star Lina Hurtig. They are backed up by one of the more underappreciated forwards in Europe in Andrea Staskova, and the attack added even more depth with Agnese Bonfantini joining from Roma. That same depth can’t be found in the midfield this season, but it may not be needed if Arianna Caruso, Valentina Cernoia and Annahita Zamanian can stay healthy. It makes things easier when you have a strong backline that includes one of the world’s best fullbacks in Lisa Boattin and new goalkeeper Pauline Peyraud-Magnin.
The race for second place may be the most exciting thing in Italy this season, but if there is anyone in that group to challenge the title holders, it will likely be AC Milan. Milan was in the thick of the race for most of last season, but two losses to Juventus kept them at bay before a disappointing run to end the season saw the gap go to 15 points. They hope to push Juventus more this season, and they made the moves to make it happen. Milan has added former Juventus keeper Laura Giuliani and went a step further to bolster the defense with the addition of Danish international Sara Thrige. The front line will still be led by Valentina Giacinti, who led the club with 18 goals last season, but she will need some help as the club returns no other players who scored more than two goals last season. Midfielder Christy Grimshaw led the team in assists last season, but she may be asked to play more inside the box this year. French forward Lindsey Thomas also joins the squad this year and could provide quality minutes for the attack. And if Milan can stay close enough to Juventus, it will get a good shot at the trophy when the two teams meet on the final matchday in May.
Players to Watch:
There is plenty of hidden talent in Italy, especially in the smaller clubs. Here are players who could make some noise before one of Europe's bigger teams comes in to take them. If you have not already heard of Haley Bugeja, you will soon. The Sassuolo forward scored 12 goals in her debut season at the age of 16 (!!!) last year. Benedetta Glionna finally got a chance to be the main forward in an attack last season, and she grabbed a career-high 10 goals for Empoli. She has once again moved clubs, this time to Roma. Gloria Marinelli was the facilitator for many of the good things Inter Milan did last season, and she will be back under new manager Rita Guarino. On the other end of the spectrum, Daniela Sabatino has been scoring goals for longer than some of these players have been alive, and she returns for her second season with Fiorentina.
Newcomers to Watch:
There are a few individual newcomers across the league, but the biggest newcomer is newly promoted Lazio, which will get their first season as a top-division club. It was a busy summer for the club as they spent the money to prepare for it. Stephanie Ohrstrom is expected to be the team’s No. 1 keeper while Maria Thomsen and Beatrix Fordos join to add depth in the defense. Australian midfielder Ella Mastrantonio will look to make her mark on Italy as she joins Lazio from Bristol City, and she is joined by former Brighton midfielder Nora Heroum.