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Roma Women Face Tough Task Against Third Place Fiorentina

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A win would see the Giallorosse vault to fourth place.

AS Roma

After a tough start to the season, the Roma women have come roaring back, taking 16 of a possible 21 points since late October. Speaking on that sluggish start, Roma captain Elisa Bartoli was upbeat: "We dropped a few too many points at the beginning, but now we are starting to battle back. It’s a more interesting and compelling championship compared to recent seasons, and fun to be a part of." I'll credit Bartoli with being an unfailingly positive person, because if that were me, I'd be fuming at the cost of those dropped points. Had Roma just drawn their first two matches, they'd have a chance to leave the Tre Fontane tomorrow with 21 points, putting them within shouting distance of the league's two European places.

As it stands right now, Roma sit in sixth place with 16 points, having won four of their past five matches. However, lady fortune has been kind to Roma this weekend. With fifth place Florentia falling to Tavagnacco, Roma has a chance, should they defeat Fiorentina tomorrow, to claim fourth place all their own. Finishing the first leg of domestic fixtures in fourth place on 19 points, eight adrift of European qualification, would be astounding given their winless start back in the fall.


Roma v. Fiorentina: December 23rd. 12:30 CET/6:30 EST. Stadio Tre Fontane, Roma.


And as we've mentioned throughout this season, any little thing this club achieves, given that it literally did not exist the season prior, is a feat in and of itself, but the team has come together so swiftly and so stunningly that actual, real accomplishments are now within their grasp, a point not lost on Sky Sport commentator and former pro player herself, Katia Serra:

It has been an interesting challenge, because this is a squad that came together from nothing...So you have to be patient, as everyone adjusts and gets to know each other.

The team has improved a lot over the course of the season so far, so the game against Fiorentina will be an important test – a chance to see where the side is at, and where they can still improve.

This season the league title was probably always going to be a bit of a stretch for Roma, but in the second half of the campaign I am sure they will improve even more and show that the side is on the right path.

It's hard to find fault with Serra's argument there: while Roma have been scorching hot, the 12 point gap on league leading Juventus is probably a bit too much for Roma to close down, but let's all pray to our preferred deities that Juve doesn't sweep both the men's and women's leagues. No one can stomach that.

Anyway, back to the matter at hand: Sunday's tilt with Fiorentina.

La Viola, similar to Roma, found their way into Serie A by purchasing the rights of another, similarly titled club, A.C.F Firenze in 2015. Since that rebirth, Fiorentina has been one of the most successful sides in the league, capturing the Coppa Italia and Scudetto in 2016-2017 and the Supercoppa Italiana this past summer. Suffice it to say, Fiorentina wrote the book on making a new side competitive quickly.

This season, the Viola sit in third place, four points back of league leading Juventus, and would be in first were it not for their losses to the Old Lady and second place AC Milan. So, if you're looking for the current pecking ordering in the league, there it is: Juve, Milan, Fiorentina. The area in which the Firenze club differentiates itself is in attack, where their 38 goals forced is the league's best mark, though they've been more prone at the back than their counterparts at the top of the table, conceding 10 goals.

Leading the charge for Fiorentina is Lana Clelland. The 25-year-old Scot currently leads the league with 11 goals and has been perhaps the league's best player since November. Starting with Fiorentina's 6-2 thrashing over Verona on November 17th, Clelland has been in the zone, scoring an astounding eight goals in five matches. Needless to say, Emma Lipman will have her hands full with her British compatriot, but bottling up Clelland will be crucial to any chance Roma has at upsetting Fiorentina.

As far as Roma are concerned, they are fully aware of the challenge ahead of them. Speaking to Roma TV, resident Roman and heart of the midfield Giada Greggi didn't pull any punches:

Like any team, playing against Fiorentina we want to play our way and stay true to our philosophy. We have great respect for them as a team, they are among the very best in the league, so there’s a real desire for us to measure ourselves against one of the best and boost the confidence of the group - as we try to every day in training.

We are continuing to work hard and finding out where we need to improve to become a great side, but we are on the right path

Coach Betty Bavagnoli reiterated her star midfielders opinion ahead of Sunday's match:

Like any team, playing against Fiorentina we want to play our way and stay true to our philosophy. We have great respect for them as a team, they are among the very best in the league, so there’s a real desire for us to measure ourselves against one of the best and boost the confidence of the group - as we try to every day in training.

We are continuing to work hard and finding out where we need to improve to become a great side, but we are on the right path.

And that right path, as Bavagnoli put it, has brought Roma to their current state as one of the league's most dangerous and balanced sides. Perhaps it's an unseen benefit of being a new side, but Roma’s confidence and chemistry has come together so quickly and so succinctly; there were no old habits to break, no drama bubbling underneath and no outward animosities to over come, and you can see it on the pitch—this is a team that enjoys playing together.

What's more, as the weeks have rolled by, the club's depth has been revealed, with the likes of Luisa Pugnali, Manuela Coluccini, Heden Corrado and Camila Labate making contributions in recent matches.

If Roma can manage a victory tomorrow, pushing them to fourth place in the process, then things could get very interesting in the second half of the season.