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Roma Defeat Florentia for First Ever Serie A Victory

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Now that’s more like it!

Roma celebrates Claudia Ciccotti’s first half goal.
AS Roma

If you’re anything like me, weekends mean sleeping in, and if your corner of the globe is anything like mine now—dark, gloomy and rainy—getting out of bed is a monumental task. So while I fully intended to catch every single minute of Roma’s week five fixture against Florentia (bonus points to me for not calling them Fiorentina like I did several weeks ago), the fates (plus a long week at work) conspired against me. But what I did see, the entirety of the second half, was phenomenal.

With her side suffering from a three-match losing streak, Betty Bavagnoli channeled her inner Ranieri, tinkering with her starting eleven ahead of this crucial road fixture.

While Martina Piemonte returned from suspension, Bavagnoli wasn’t content to rest on her laurels, as she made a few key changes to her lineup, swapping out Agnese Bonfantini for Camilia Labate up front and Claudia Ciccotti for Flaminia Simonetti in midfield. For the uninitiated, those are pretty significant swaps. Labate, nominally a fullback, was pushed to the right wing while Ciccotti, who has previously started as a center back, was deployed as a midfielder today. We’re still getting to know the team, but these changes point towards an incredibly versatile and malleable side, one that gives Bavagnoli room to tinker and experiment—a feature that worked wonders today.

Without watching the replay, I can really only speak in detail about the second half. However, with Ciccotti giving the club a 1-0 lead at the stroke of halftime, Roma had every reason to park the bus and squeeze out their first win, and who could have blamed them? Given what preceded this match, it would have been perfectly reasonable for Bavagnoli to put ten women behind the ball and choke the ever living daylights out of this match, but she didn’t.

Instead, what transpired was 45 minutes of end-to-end attacking football spurred on by the trio of Bernauer, Bonfantini and Giada Greggi, who I simply cannot say enough about. Through Roma’s first four matches, she has been unstoppable, blowing past any and all comers, while feeding Roma’s frontline from a variety of angles, and this afternoon was no different. She’s so fast and has such a low center of gravity, that’s she’s damn near impossible to take off the ball...that is if you can catch her.

The Giallorosse’s attacking intent was made evident in the 66th minute. Following a goal kick, which was quickly corralled and turned into a counter attack by Florentia, Roma’s midfielders and forwards, namely Ciccotti, Bernauer and Annamaria Serturini, quickly tracked back, snuffing out the attack in the process before Elisa Bartoli seized upon the now loose ball.

What happened next was one of the best attacking sequence’s you’ll probably every see. In a matter of three touches, Roma went from defending to scoring. Without even batting an eye, Bartoli, after grabbing the loose ball, fired it up the left flank to Luisa Pugnali, a forward, who was dropping back. Pugnali, showing the kind of quick thinking and keen vision one wants from a wide forward, flicked the ball inside to Greggi, who turned and immediately headed up the pitch. With the defense collapsing on her, Greggi threaded it through to a streaking Bonfantini, who was making a diagonal run from the right. Bonfantini’s run was so well timed and orchestrated, she slipped into to only space available, before barely slipping it past the oncoming keeper.

I’m hopeful that I can find a clip to embed before publishing, but if I don’t you’ll just have to take my word for it; this was the kind of buildup you replay on FIFA over and over—it was that perfect. {There we go, it’s at the one-minute mark}

Roma would continue to eviscerate the Florentia defense throughout the remaining thirty minutes, making mincemeat of whatever defense shape their opponents attempted. Greggi had room to roam in the middle and Bonfantini was a constant threat on the right, and were it not for Florentia’s astute offside trap, Roma could have managed another goal or two...or three—it was that easy for them to pick and choose where to play the ball.

Ultimately Roma wasn’t able to capitalize again, and actually gave one back to Florentia thanks to an ill timed tackle in the box that resulted in a penalty, but Bonfatini’s goal was enough to win the day.

Conclusions

As I write about this team, I’m learning more about the state of women’s football in Europe, though I’m still a bit hazy where Serie A falls in the pecking order, but I’m telling you...pleading with you...if you’ve been hesitant to watch this team, don’t be. They play the exact sort of attacking football Roma fans love; like Zeman but without the suicidal defensive line. They will do your Roma heart proud.

On her sides performance, Bavagnoli was pleased but cautious:

Far be it from me to argue with the actual coach, but this was a tremendous step forward, and in that second half alone, Roma showed a greater degree of precision than they have all season. If Bavagnoli can capture that second half spirit—and, yes, the finishing—Roma could very well work their way up the table as autumn gives way to winter. This team is just dripping with talent, it’s impossible to envision them dwelling at the bottom of the table for much longer, and with a game in hand, this match could be the beginning of new fortunes for the Giallorosse.

Roma run it back on November third when then welcome the Bergamo outfit, Orobica, to the Tre Fontane.