The final set of friendlies in this international break were played today with teams testing their mettle one last time before the World Cup season begins in full flow.
Italy vs Colombia
By: Yash Thakur
Colombia’s second test came in the form of Milena Bertollini’s Italy side. The South American side failed to beat Herve Renard’s France despite going 2-0 up against them in their first game under Renard’s tutelage. Italy provided a different kind of test to the side than the French team.
Colombia were in a 4-2-3-1 with Linda Caicedo starting on the left flank while 17-year-old Ana Guzman started in the left back position. Levante’s Mayra Ramirez led the line for Colombia.
Italy on the other hand were in a 4-3-3 and had a slightly rotated lineup with AS Roma’s Valentina Giacinti leading the line for them while being flanked by Chiara Beccari and Sofia Cantore on either sides. Giugliano was at the base of the midfield for Italy trying to marshall things.
Colombia’s narrow 4-3-3 with wingers tucked in meant the task was simplified enough for Italy to just go out wide via their wingers in order to breach the final third of the pitch. Italy’s back 3 buildup also helped in drawing out the front 3 and find a spare player out towards the flank with usually Giugliano drifting out wide and presenting herself as a passing option.
la bellezza di Valentina Giacinti che segna con la maglia della nazionale e va ad esultare lì dove c’è scritto ROMA #italiacolombia pic.twitter.com/CSrQQOP2YH— clarissa insolia (@avvclarinsolia) April 11, 2023
In the 13th minute, Giacinti opened the scoring for Italy with an individual ball carrying sequence after being played into space, slotting the ball in-between the legs of the goalkeeper. Italy were largely restricted to chance creation from set-pieces beyond this.
Colombia’s approach was very duel heavy which led to multiple fouls being committed. Colombia committed 15 fouls in the game and Italy got physical as well as the game went on. The referee wasn’t able to control the game as well resulting in some frustration on Colombia’s side. Colombia were threatening in the final third but lacked the decisive ball. Their direct approach to find Ramirez as the outlet also resulted in a few dangerous opportunities.
In the 77th minute, Colombia earned a penalty after Salvai brought down second half substitute Ivone Chacon inside the penalty box. Catalina Usme stepped up and scored from the spot to bring the scores level. Italy retook the lead just four minutes after this with Barbara Bonansea carrying the ball to the byline and playing a cutback which was turned into her own net by Monica Ramos. The game was very transitional beyond this and both teams had a few chances before the final whistle.
Real Madrid’s Linda Caicedo started and played the entire 90 minutes of this fixture. The 18-year-old was brilliant on-the-ball, taking on multiple players on the carry and showcasing excellent close control. She made some vital loose ball recoveries allowing Colombia to spring into the attack. She was able to attack the bylines comfortably but had a mixed bag in regards with the final ball. She accumulated over 180 minutes in these two friendly fixtures during the break.
Denmark vs Japan
By: Yash Thakur
Denmark were up against Japan following their late win against fellow Scandinavian side Sweden. Japan on the other hand were coming into this on the back of a comeback win over Portugal in their previous friendly.
Denmark lined up in a 4-3-3 again with Stine Larsen leading the line and Katrina Veje starting in the left-back spot. Everton’s Karen Holmgaard and Arsenal’s Katherine Kuhl paired up in the midfield.
Japan, unlike pictured in google, were in a 3-4-2-1 formation with Iwabuchi and Fujino playing behind Riko Ueki. Manchester City’s Yui Hasegawa played as the deepest midfielder while Jun Endo was deployed in a left wingback role.
Japan were operating very much in a 3-2-2-3 formation when they had the ball, pushing both wingbacks high up the pitch while the duo of Iwabuchi and Fujino formed a box midfield. The game was a cagey affair with both teams engaging in the middle of the park. Japan had more of the ball and played through Denmark’s press to a certain degree.
Denmark were very much in a traditional 4-3-3 with wingers high and wide, trying to find crossing opportunities but often found themselves outnumbered on the flank as Japan fell back in a 4-5-1 without the ball. Denmark were unable to register any shots on target in the entire game.
In the 78th minute, Moeka Minami isn’t able to deal with a long ball over the top under pressure and tries head it back towards the goalkeeper. Due to lack of proper communication, the ball ends up in the back of the net with the goalkeeper planted. Japan kept pushing beyond this point and played out some slick passing moves around the edge of the box but lacked the effectiveness ultimately.
Sofie Svava started the game on the bench and was brought on in the 71st minute replacing Katrina Veje as the left-back. The Real Madrid fullback had some bright moments, reading and intercepting play well. She didn’t have as much contribution high up the field because Japan piled up on the pressure after going behind. Although it was her pass over the top that resulted in the own goal that gave Denmark the lead. She did decent on her defensive duels and got the necessary minutes managed.