I’m seldom right about things. I thought Coke II was pretty good, I raved about Crystal Clear Pepsi back in the day, and I even thought 98 Degrees was superior to NYSNC. However, one thing I had absolutely right was my initial impression of Roma’s new women’s team. While they struggled in the first few weeks of the season—which were, again, their first weeks in existence—I sensed a sleeping giant, a team that was poised to break out in a big way.
Even when the bounces weren’t breaking their way, when the goal post was their greatest foe and when their passes were missing by millimeters, you knew this team had “it”, the proverbial quality that all top teams possess; the will to win, and the temerity to keep pressing forward when things aren’t going as planned. Betty Bavagnoli’s side, through it all, was well organized, rigid at the back and had a clear plan of attack—move the ball up the pitch as quickly as possible, using their superior athleticism and creativity to crush the spirits of their opponents.
After their initial warming up period, Roma slowly unleashed the beast, scoring seven goals during their three match unbeaten streak. With Giada Greggi and Vanessa Bernauer dictating the attack with speed and grace, the Giallorosse weren’t quite unstoppable, but you could tell it was coming. They were too creative, too athletic, too fast and simply too good to be contained for long.
Today may have been the tipping point.
In yesterday’s preview we focused on the number seven. Not Seven Costanza, not Seven Up, but seven points, the total shared by Roma and three of her direct rivals. Given that logjam in the middle of the table, Roma had the opportunity to gain a lot of ground on the top tier of the league, rarified air occupied by AC Milan, Juventus and Sassuolo. A win today could, depending on the rest of the results of the round, put Roma within shouting distance of the top three; something that seemed impossible back in September.
So, how did Roma respond to that challenge? They scored seven fucking goals! For once, Roma was on the bright side of a 7-1 scoreline, as they put the wood to Chievo this afternoon at the Stadio Tre Fontane.
While the afternoon started off innocuous enough, Roma didn’t wait long to choke the life out of Chievo, seizing the initiative in only the 15th minute, meaning the Flying Donkeys suffered 75+ minutes of abuse at the hands of Roma.
Given the nature of the beatdown, words will never truly do it justice, so let’s just feast on the goals—well, the ones that were made available via Twitter after the match anyway.
Claudia Ciccotti: 15th Minute (Roma 1, Chievo 0)
⚽️ Il gol di Claudia Ciccotti al 15' #ASRomaFemminile pic.twitter.com/JFQEsvnodH— AS Roma Femminile (@ASRomaFemminile) November 17, 2018
Shades of El Shaarawy’s goal against Sampdoria here as Ciccotti found herself wheeling away from the goal, yet was still able to beat the keeper at the far post. Ciccotti is very much the jack of all trades member of this team, but she’s shown enough offensive panache to be considered a legitimate threat to opponents. Defending, holding, attacking and scoring, she does it all.
Chievo would level the match in the ensuing minutes, but Annamaria Serturini, fresh off her first international call-up, would score a stunning goal shortly before the stroke of halftime, one that would prove to be the match winner.
Annamaria Serturini: 41st Minute (Roma 2, Chievo 1)
Annamaria Serturini with a foot like a traction engine! ⚽️#ASRomaWomen #ASRoma pic.twitter.com/z7rGa6NUlV— AS Roma Women (@ASRomaWomen) November 17, 2018
Just a great exhibition of technique here from Serturini—after a great first touch to settle the ball, she just buried it past the keeper, leaving little doubt about the result. Serturini has been perhaps Roma’s most constant threat in attack, so it was only fitting that she effectively won this match.
Still, without the benefit of hindsight, at the stroke of halftime, a 2-1 lead didn’t seem that safe. We’ve seen one, two and even three goal deficits erased many, many times, but this 15 minute interlude would be the only reprieve Chievo would receive.
The second half was an absolute beatdown, perhaps the most stunning and lopsided display of attacking football any Roma team has ever produced. With one eye on the match and one eye on a soon to be published article about Lorenzo Pellegrini, it seemed like every time I finished a sentence the ladies were scoring another goal. I couldn’t keep up, they were that relentless.
I hope we can find clips of each and everyone of those goals, because they all had merit and they’re all exhibits of how this team is forming in absolute perfection, but for now we’ll have to focus on the fifth goal, which was a beauty.
Giada Greggi: 71st Minute (Roma 5, Chievo 1)
An instant impact from Trudi Carter on her debut... ↩️— AS Roma Women (@ASRomaWomen) November 17, 2018
... and no hesitation from Giada Greggi for her first Roma goal! #ASRomaWomen #ASRoma pic.twitter.com/41HFP8oaOJ
I really hesitate to draw parallels between the players on this squad and their male counterparts because A) it’s lazy writing and B) it’s a bit patronizing to the players, but I see so much of Eden Hazard in Giada Greggi; the speed, the direct play, the creativity and her laser like focus on pushing play up the pitch reminds me so much of Hazard I can’t help but lean on that crutch.
Despite the sheer amount of gravity she exerts in this attack—she really is the catalyst to so much of what they’ve accomplished recently—she had yet to find the back of the net. Teaming up with debutant Trudi Carter, who came on for the injured Serturini, Greggi really put the flourish on this match. Carter’s hold-up play and touch were the real spark of genius in this move, but Greggi finished it cool as you like.
And that was really that, this thing was effectively over from the 15th minute—Chievo’s equalizer was merely a weigh station on this beatdown highway. With goals from Ciccotti, Serturini (2), Greggi, captain Elisa Bartoli, Federica Di Criscio and Emma Lipman, this was a total team effort. With that lone exception, Roma’s defense denied Chievo possession, let alone any attacking space, while the attack was...brilliant? dominant? sublime? resplendent?
Whatever it was, it was a joy to watch. You’ll have to pardon my French, but this team is so fucking good. From front to back, this team is absolutely loaded. From Lipman and Bartoli at the back to Greggi, Ciccotti and Bernauer in the middle to Serturini and Bonfantini up front, Roma are laden with talent at nearly all eleven positions. They have size, they have strength and they have skill, and it may only be a matter of time before they have the league itself.
And so far, the fates have been kind to them, as the draw between Sassuolo and Tavagnacco puts Roma in sixth place, two points above Tavagnacco and only five points out of the top three.
While we shouldn’t expect 7-1 routs every week, this team has enough firepower to put up some gaudy numbers. The talent and intent was always there, and now that it’s been imbued with actual results, things could get very exciting.