I’ve watched nearly every minute of Betty Bavagnoli’s AS Roma Women’s side this season, and I must say Roma’s home ground, the Stadio Tre Fontane, is the least...umm...Soviet looking—there are actual trees and signs of life in the background rather than a mosaic of concrete. It was against that backdrop that Roma faced lowly Orobica Bergamo, Serie A’s 11th, and arguably most pathetic, side.
Still, as we’ve cautioned throughout this venture, given that this is a new team we don’t know exactly what to expect from the Giallorosse in all situations—not yet. But if you’ve been following the team along with me, you’ve no doubt noticed their penchant for direct, attacking football. For weeks they’ve been knocking on the door, missing goals by mere inches and mistiming crosses by milliseconds, but you could sense it; a deluge of goals wasn’t far away.
Starting with their victory against Florentia two weeks ago, that storm surge started as a trickle, slowly but surely weakening the levys, and with their second half comeback against Tavagnacco on Wednesday, the cracks grew even wider, making today’s match against Orobica, the same club that entered this match with a -11 goal differential, a potential flood watch.
Okay, enough with the flimsy metaphors. Roma wasted little time busting this match wide open. Per usual, Giada Greggi, Annamaria Serturini, Vanessa Bernauer and Agnese Bonfantini were the catalysts to Bavagnoli’s wide open attack, probing through the middle before quickly spreading the ball out wide to the wingers. The thing that impresses me most about this team is the economy of their passes; there is very little wasted movement, everything has a purpose, and that purpose is to push the ball up field. They’re a Zeman dream come true.
However, in an ironic twist, it was a defender, Federica Di Criscio, who opened Roma’s account this afternoon, flicking home a picture perfect header past the helpless Orobica keeper. I’m not sure how often we should expect FDC to get involved in the attack, but if that header was any indication, she’s another weapon on top of an already ridiculously loaded arsenal.
Not content with one goal, Roma’s attacking verve was on display once more. As much as they play through the middle, the real strength of Bavagnoli’s attack may rest out wide—speedy midfielder Giada Greggi notwithstanding—a point not lost on their second goal. With Serturini blazing down the left flank and Bonfantini shadowing her on the opposite side of the pitch, it seemed like they’d need a helping hand from Greggi to link up, but Serturini (somehow) managed to skip the ball across the ground, evading several defenders in the process, all the way to Bonfantini on the opposite side, who cooly slotted it home to put Roma up two-nil. It all happened so fast, but take a look at the replay and the quality of Serturini’s cross really stands out—it was intuitive and remarkably well taken.
And, as if that weren’t enough, Serturini nearly followed that up with a goal of her own, only to be denied by the Orobica defense. Despite that miss, it was a flat-out dominant first half from Roma, who kept Orobica firmly planted underneath their foot.
Roma wouldn’t relent in the second half either, bombarding Orobica left, right and center for another 45 minutes. While Bonfantini would threaten a few more times, Roma would triple their tally thanks to a late penalty call in the second half. With Greggi cutting in from the left and playing the ball back towards the middle, an Orobica defender inadvertently put a hand to the ball, resulting in the PK, which was quick and calmly converted by Serturini, putting the match fully and finally beyond all doubt.
We’ve been preaching patience with this club for a reason—they are absolutely loaded with talent. And while it took a few weeks to iron out the kinks, the past three matches are proof positive of what the Roma women are capable of—90 minutes of end to end attacking football. Sure, Orobica weren’t the most formidable opponent, but Roma were efficient and effective today, two traits that eluded them earlier in the season, and two traits that should enable them to climb the table.
With seven points through six matches, Roma are edging their way up the standings, and while being out of the drop zone is a decent early benchmark, given the sheer amount of talent on the team, one gets the feeling the standards will never be quite so low again. The defense has always been solid, and now that the offense is really gelling, it won’t be long before the Roma ragazze are threatening the top four.
That slow start has probably, barring a miracle, removed Roma from title contention, but the foundation of this team is so incredibly impressive, it won’t be long before they’re making room on the mantle for some silverware.
If you follow this team, either through our coverage or on social media, you’ll notice one thing—the youth. Agnese Bonfantini, Giada Greggi, Annamaria Serturini, Vanessa Bernauer, Martina Piemonte and Flaminia Simonetti are all 21-years-old or younger—indeed, many of them are so young, they’re still university students—that you wouldn’t be crazy to call them the team of the future. In some ways, Roma may have their own Manchester United Class of ‘92 thing going on here.
I simply cannot say enough about how much I enjoy watching this team. The direct, vertical attacking play is a joy to watch, and what’s more it’s buoyed by two impressive veterans in defense, Emma Lipman and Elisa Bartoli, and as we’ve seen over the past three matches, it’s producing results.
Roma’s fresh start may soon spell fresh doom for the rest of the league.