Italy vs. Argentina: Top Storylines, Odds, Live Stream for Women’s World Cup 2023
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For Italy, the 2023 World Cup represents the dawn of a new era in the country’s women’s football program. Gone are captain Sara Gama and other veteran players who have defined the Italian team for so long and in their place are the young and unproven.
It is the price to pay for a disappointing performance at Euro 2022; one that may have lasting consequences on the country’s World Cup aspirations.
First up for Le Azzurre is an Argentina team seeking one, elusive accomplishment: a World Cup win.
Odds, Streaming Info, Schedule
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Ane Frosaker/Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images
Italy (-170; bet $100, win $158.82)
Draw (+285; bet $100, win $385)
Argentina (+500; bet $100, win $600)
Schedule and Viewing Info
Date: Monday, July 24
Time: 2:00 a.m.
TV: Fox Sports 1
Streaming: Fox Sports app
Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook
Italy’s Transitional Period
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Italy coach Milena Bertolini stunned both players and fans alike when she excluded former captain Sara Gama from this World Cup squad.
“I thought long and hard to be certain it was the right decision. Don’t think I made this choice lightly,” she told reporters. “The motivation is exclusively technical-tactical and physical.”
Gama was a pillar of an Italian team that made the World Cup quarterfinals in 2019, is already in one Hall of Fame, and is the first woman to achieve vice president status in the Italian Footballers’ Association.
To say she was a beloved member of the nation’s soccer program would be an understatement. Replacing her will not be easy, but Bertolini believes it is the right call to turn to a younger, energetic team on the heels of Le Azzurre’s disappointing Euro 2022 performance.
Teenager Giulia Dragoni headlines a crop of Millennial talent that also includes Arianna Caruso, Martina Lenzini, Manuela Giugliano, among others.
Giugliano may be the best of the bunch right now, with a knack for finding passing lanes that could make her one of the bright, young stars of European football before long.
Dragoni, nicknamed “little Messi,” is just 16 years old but she has flashed the skills necessary to be a leader of the team well into the future. She will not start, thanks to Giugliano’s presence at midfield, but she will have her opportunities to prove why her coach felt comfortable purging aging veterans in favor of youthful energy.
Together, they form the foundation of the Italian women’s soccer team for years to come but what they can realistically accomplish in 2023 remains to be seen.
Bertolini appears realistic in the expectations of her squad. “Our goal is to qualify for the knockout stage, even if it won’t be easy.”
She also recognizes this could be her final World Cup with the team.
“Our life is always uncertain, and I am no exception. Our future will probably depend on the World Cup.”
If it is, she can rest easy knowing she made difficult decisions at the moment but potentially set Italy up to be the world elite team they had been previously with a core of skilled players.
Argentina’s Goal in the World Cup: A Win
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To say that Argentina’s last three World Cup appearances were disappointing would be an understatement.
They failed to score a win in three tries in 2003 and four years later, repeated the performance. In 2019, they improved…by not losing. Instead, they drew Japan and Scotland.
This year, they arrive in Australia seeking a win.
It has not been easy for La Albiceleste, who went on strike in 2018 in pursuit of improved and equal working conditions to those of the men’s team and at one point, dropped out of FIFA rankings entirely.
The team is back, made up of both young and experienced players, with a budding star leading the way.
Not only has Estefanía Banini continued the fight for equality off the field, but she has also established herself on it, earning recognition in FIFA’s Best World XI. She is a technically proficient player and has earned the attention of the sport.
The 33-year-old, potentially playing in her final World Cup, is supported by a future star in Lorena Benítez, whose passing is as good as any on the team.
It will be a difficult ask for Argentina to accomplish much more than a single win, particularly in a group that includes very good Sweden and South African squads. With that said, Italy is ripe for an upset following the controversial roster makeover instituted by its head coach.
Perhaps Banini can lead her team to victory and exorcise the demons of years past in the process.