Missed Opportunity for Italy Women at 2023 World Cup

Although they weren’t considered to be one of the leading candidates for success, the Italian team headed to the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup with plenty of enthusiasm. Following the frustrations of the UEFA Women’s Euro 2022 tournament, winless and eliminated in the group stage, Italy had targeted reaching the knockout phase at the flagship soccer event.

Nevertheless, despite an encouraging 1-0 win against Argentina at Eden Park in Auckland, New Zealand, the Italians were comprehensively beaten 5-0 by Sweden. Then came the ultimate defeat in the decisive game of Group G, which ultimately resulted in heartbreak. The Italians were stunningly beaten 3-2 by South Africa, who clinched their victory deep into stoppage time.

Unexpected Changes

All the more frustrating, a draw would have been enough to carry Italy through to the Round of 16, but they weren’t the only side that failed to reach that objective. Brazil also missed out in Group F as Jamaica secured their first-ever knockout stage appearance. Despite being traditionally strong contenders, both Canada and China have also found themselves eliminated in the group stages.

The tournament in Australia and New Zealand has been filled with surprising results, which means the list of Women’s World Cup favorites has now dramatically changed heading into the quarter-finals. As it stands, Spain are priced at odds of +275 to walk away the winners.

In addition, looking dominant so far, along with comfortably topping the group that featured Italy, the Sweden team went on to eliminate the United States, holding the double reigning champions to a goalless draw, before ousting them 5-4 on penalties.

Never before has the United States fallen by the wayside so early in World Cup history, marking what could be a shift in the balance of power in the women’s game. While the USWNT had been widely considered the best bet for a third consecutive crown, the 2023 tournament will now feature alternative conquerors ascending to the throne.

Fresh Blood for Outright Winner

Sweden will fancy their chances, but so will the Netherlands, who comfortably topped Group E above the United States, then promptly ended the South African dreams of continued success in the Round of 16. They will undoubtedly be two of the sides to beat heading into the quarter-finals, with both in action on 11 August in New Zealand.

The Netherlands will take on Spain, who certainly can’t be taken for granted after thrashing Switzerland 5-1 in the Round of 16. Likewise, any continued progress for Sweden will rely heavily on maintaining their form against Japan, the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup champions and 2015 runner-up. The Japanese team was unstoppable in Group C, winning all three of their matches without conceding a single goal, so they cannot be taken for granted.

Moving On and Learning

As for the Italians, all that now remains is to analyze their performances at the 2023 tournament, before looking ahead with optimism and the desire to improve. Thankfully, there are plenty of rising talents for Italy to continue nurturing, according to head coach Milena Bertolini. “I think we do have a future,” she underlined with confidence, despite the frustrating conclusion for her team at the Women’s World Cup.

Italy will now seek to learn its lessons and get back into competitive shape, ahead of the 2023-24 UEFA Nations League campaign, which begins on 22 September against Switzerland. Their group in the competition also features Sweden and Spain, therefore big improvements will certainly be needed, as the Italians aim to bounce back from their most recent women’s international heartbreak.