STADIO ENZO RICCI (Sassuolo) – Lana Clelland is a gamer’s dream. Unfortunately for those who play against them, however, the Scot is the kind of dream nobody wants. She is the suffocating demon that sits on your chest during sleep paralysis and gives you sleepless nights when you only think about it, ready to torment you and play with you.
Her movement makes it impossible to get close to her. Just as a defender has the feeling of having his whereabouts under control, a quick change of direction or a sudden stop gives you an extra meter or two of space. Should a defender dare to get too close, she has the vision and the speed of thought to play a ball for the first time into a – for most – dead end and find an overlapping teammate.
At times against Sampdoria in Serie A female on Saturday it appeared that Clelland’s vision was from elsewhere. It was like having access to a camera in a drone hovering 50 meters above the Enzo Ricci pitch and being able to constantly see the shape of everything, recognize and execute no-look and first passes with her head around the corner or either the inside or the outside of your foot.
It could just be the difference between whether Sassuolo achieves his goals for the season and not this season. She was almost perfect on Saturday and that was the third clear game out of three since joining Sassuolo last summer.
FINAL | #SassuoloSamp 2 ?? – 0 ??
3/3? e si go to 9 punti! ?
– US Sassuolo (@SassuoloUS) September 11, 2021
Clelland was the difference on Saturday. It was her corner that held Tamar Dongus’ header, just for Maria Luisa Filangeri who turned the rebound, and then it was the striker who let another ball at Sofia Cantore’s head in the second half.
She dropped low when needed, harassed Michela Giordano when she drifted to the right, and never let any of Samp’s center-backs come within touching distance for more than a second. She spent most of the time on the pitch between the defensive and midfields of Samp and was constantly on the opponents’ minds.
After scoring the winner against ex-club Fiorentina on her debut and then two more in her second outing against Hellas Verona, Clelland has now shown that she doesn’t even have to find the net herself to make a difference for Sassuolo.
Perhaps more impressive than her assistance was how it came about. The 28-year-old had stopped shortly before and her replacement was being prepared to come. In the meantime, it was enforced by Cantore, but shot just wide, gained another chance and then helped Cantore on before it finally started.
A deadly partnership
It didn’t seem like a coincidence that Cantore ran straight for Clelland to celebrate Sassuolo’s second goal on Saturday, and the two already seem to have an understanding that doesn’t even require communication.
Aside from the strange point suggesting a change of sides in Sassuolo’s attack, Cantore and Clelland were barely seen speaking a word to each other, save for a notable ‘bravissima‘by the latter in recognition of the Italian’s relentless pressing deep in Sampdoria’s defensive third.
With Cantore’s Tempo and Clellands … well, Sassuolo knows they have reliable attacking power and both players could realistically hope to score between 15 and 20 goals in the Serie A Femminile this season. While AC Milan have Valentina Giacinti and Lindsey Thomas and Juventus have Cristiana Girelli and Barbara Bonasea, Neroverde’s Clelland-Cantore pairing might just be good enough to aim for the unthinkable this season.