Cristiana Girelli: Italy

Former USWNT player Nikki Marshall highlights Italy's leading striker Cristiana Girelli.

Italy: Cristiana Girelli

The Italian women’s national team, despite all the country’s history in the men’s game and having been one of the first nations to embrace women’s soccer, has never been a dominant force on the world’s stage. 

Cristiana Girelli would like to change that. 

Italy will be at the Women’s World Cup for the first time since 1999 and third time ever. Yes, the Italian men’s team has won more World Cups than the women’s team has competed in, something no other nation in the world can say outside of Uruguay, which has never been to a Women’s World Cup.

Girelli, a 29-year-old striker for back-to-back Serie A champion Juventus, was tied for second in scoring during UEFA Women’s World Cup qualifiers with seven goals. Vitally, she scored the winner in a home win over Belgium, which proved pivotal in earning the Azzurre an automatic ticket to France.

The Bianconera No. 10 also led Italy in scoring in Euro 2017 qualifiers before netting the winner in a 3-2 victory over Sweden at the tournament. 

Alongside an up-and-coming side that includes the exciting 21-year-old Manuela Giugliano, the Azzurre could make a splash at an international tournament for the first time since finishing second at the 1993 Euros.

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