13 September 2021
Juventus Women have been drawn in Group A for their first-ever appearance in the UEFA Women's Champions League group stages.
The Bianconere will face Chelsea, Wolfsburg and Servette during the group stage, having qualified for the draw after convincing wins over Kamenia Sasa (12-0) and St. Polten (4-1) and the defeat of Vllaznia (2-0 in the first leg, 1-0 in the second).
With some mouth-watering clashes ahead, Head of Juventus Women Stefano Braghin spoke about the magnitude of the team’s achievement in reaching this stage and set out the objectives moving forward.
“We had a clear target for this season to reach the group stages, even though we knew that was ambitious,” he said. “We achieved that after a very impressive run of four consecutive wins, with lots of goals scored and a lot of chances created. The girls and the staff deserve credit for that. The fact that 14 out of the top 20 sides in the UEFA ranking haven’t managed to qualify shows that the standard was high and that the hierarchy in international women’s football is changing. We need to make sure we get ourselves in there.
“The next stage begins now, when we’ll be testing ourselves against the best teams in Europe. Many of the teams we’ll be facing started their journeys before us. It’ll be a good test to show us where we are and where we still need to improve. That’s the spirit we take into the group stage. It’ll be an important moment for us and I hope it brings a lot of visibility to women’s football in Italy, given that our girls are going to be representing Italy on such a big stage.”
He then spoke in detail on the Bianconere’s next three opponents: "It is certainly not a simple group, considering that two of the three teams we are going to face occupy third (Wolfsburg) and fifth (Chelsea) place in the European ranking. In the last three years, we have faced and will face the three teams with the highest coefficient. Servette themselves is a team on the rise. We will certainly not start defeated with the other two battleships of European football; we will play our cards knowing that each club’s projects have different ages. We will not give anything to anyone and we will try to learn from every match we play.”
Braghin conceded that the added commitment of the Champions League group stages will mean Juventus have to contend with a packed fixture schedule.
“This stage will mean a lot of midweek games,” he said. “Between now and December we’ve got a total of 23 games in the league, Coppa Italia and Champions League, which is almost as many as we played in the whole of last season, so it’s going to change the way we work a lot, but if want to be relevant on the international stage we have to get used to that. Hopefully we can strike the right balance and get the rotation right, as we have done so far.
“We need to remember that we’ll be facing teams that may be better prepared, because they’ll have had the whole week to work together. Regardless, we’ll be working to continue to improve on every front, because aside from individual competitions, the aim for anyone wearing this jersey is to keep improving and try to win every competition we’re involved in. Through our hard work and that of our coaching team, together with the willing attitude of the girls, we’ll be able to deal with any challenges.”
Women | Highlights UWCL | Juventus-Vllaznia
Braghin also looked back to the crucial win over Vllaznia, when the support from the very top of the club was clear for all to see.
“The presence of president [Andrea] Agnelli and the whole senior management team was great to see,” he said. “It was further confirmation of their support for our team on and off the pitch and for the project as a whole – we feel that support every day. The recent development work at the Women’s area in Vinovo is further evidence of how much the club cares about giving us the best possible foundation to advance their project and achieve our objectives.
“The club is very supportive. I make almost all strategic decisions in accordance with Federico Cherubini, who is my immediate superior in the club, and we speak regularly about a range of topics. It’s a team effort and our achievements in Europe are down to the hard work of the whole club – and we hope there are more to come.”
Last but not least, Braghin spoke about the Serie A season so far.
“Roma, AC Milan, Sassuolo and ourselves are challenging for the title,” he said. “I think each team has a 25% chance of winning, then behind that group are Inter, who have done some very good work. We know that our opponents are stronger this season and the fact that we’re going to be playing a lot of midweek games makes our job more difficult, even though our aim is to retain it. It’s going to be more difficult, but we want to achieve our objectives.”