Having one’s season unexpectedly interrupted is hard under the most normal circumstance, but when you’re team is being built from the ground up, a near month long lapse in action can be damning; how can you expect to build any chemistry, let alone momentum, without actual match action? That’s the problem plaguing the Roma women who, after falling in a thrilling opener against Sassuolo, were forced to wait three weeks for their next fixture, today’s trip to Verona.
Unsurprisingly, the rust was evident in Betty Bavagnoli’s side, who struggled to find the back of the net this afternoon. Much like their first turn against Sassuolo, the Roma Ragazze were led by the speedy legs of Giada Greggi, who time and time again was seen darting through the Verona defense, finding passing angles that otherwise weren’t there. Her low center of gravity and rabbit-like acceleration make her practically unstoppable on the ball; she’s definitely the engine in this attack.
Roma would threaten several times in the first half, but none were as tantalizingly close as this one:
If you find yourself struggling to relate to the Roma women, a firm smack of the crossbar should allay those fears; male, female, young and old, all Roma players are vexed by the woodwork it seems.
The first 45 minutes were strikingly similar to their first match against Sassuolo, with Greggi, Agnese Bonfantini and Martina Piemonte providing much of the action, only to be found wanting, and, much like their male counterparts, the opposition was more than willing to pounce on their ineffectiveness, as Verona struck in the 30th minute to seize the first half lead.
Roma came out swinging in the second half, with a flurry of quick attacking moves, most notably a 360 by Flaminia Simonetti, but her Ronaldinho-esque display of skill ultimately came up short. Several minutes later, Greggi, once again flying up the pitch, slipped a picture perfect through ball...umm...through to Bonfantini, who just couldn’t get more than a toe to it before the defense collapsed on her; it was a textbook buildup, but the finishing was indicative of the club’s current struggles.
Despite missing the knockout blow, Roma kept pressing on Verona. After an extended delay due to a Verona injury, Roma nearly leveled the match when Simonetti found herself in space, only to fire wide, narrowly missing the equalizer. By this point in the match, the 70th minute or so, it was clear that Roma had taken control of the match, making the missed chances all the more frustrating.
That theme would continue throughout the final quarter hour of the match, as Roma was able to stretch the Verona defense down the wings, and really even through the middle, but kept coming up short.
Thanks to the extended injury delay, the match concluded with five minutes of stoppage time, during which Roma really began to press Verona at the back and very nearly...and I mean nearly...equalized this one when Luisa Pugnali missed a virtual one-v-one in the 94th minute.
Alas, Roma’s late rush went for naught, as they dropped their second match of the season and fall to 0-2.
What can we say? This is a story as old as the sport itself; you have to capitalize on your chances. Roma were the better team today, yet thanks to that spate of missed opportunities and one clinical moment from Verona, they wound up on the sour side of the scoreline and are now 0-2 on the season.
As we mentioned at the outset, overcoming an unplanned three week respite is tough under the best of circumstances, but when you’re also trying to forge an identity as what is essentially an expansion team, that gap in actual match action is damn near impossible to overcome, and it showed.
With two matches under their belt, we can safely say Bavagnoli’s side is an up tempo attacking team. With Greggi pressing through the middle and Piemonte dropping back to spread play out wide to Annamaria Serturini and Bonfantini, this side is somewhat reminiscent of Luciano Spalletti’s Roma teams from twelve years ago—vertical attacking play interspersed with quick, triangular passing designed to keep the defense off kilter.
Today against Verona, the Roma Ragazze had 90% of that plan working to perfection—they were passing and moving with very little opposition from Verona—but they just couldn’t get a clean enough look at the goal, putting a toe on the ball when it needed a foot, or watching helplessly as cross after cross sailed just a bit too high.
Yes, this is a new team and they’re still ironing out the kinks, but you can only count excuses for so long; they have to find a way to capitalize on these chances before the season gets away from them.
And things won’t get any easier next week. In what has become their home opener, the Giallorosse welcome Juventus to the Stadio Tre Fontane.