While the Roma women have won two of their past three matches, and are currently riding a three-match unbeaten streak, they find themselves in a bit of an awkward position as they travel north to Udine to take on seventh place Tavagnacco. Not awkward like letting one slip in a crowded elevator, but more like having nothing to gain by winning. Should Roma emerge victorious tomorrow, those three accrued points won't really gain the Giallorosse any ground on the table, but, and here's the rub, if they drop points it could be absolutely calamitous.
Sitting just below Roma on the table are Florentia on 20 and Sassuolo on 18 points, respectively, both of whom would be more than happy to capitalize on any bad luck that might befall Betty Bavagnoli's squad on Saturday. A Roma loss coupled with a Florentia victory over Juventus and a Sassuolo three-pointer against Atalanta would push Roma all the way down to sixth. A devastating fall after such a momentous climb could undo all the positive momentum Roma has accrued lately.
Tavagnacco vs. Roma: January 12th, 12:30 CET/6:30 EST. Stadio UPC, Tavagnacco.
So, in order to avoid that fate, Roma must learn from their Halloween mistakes...
October 31st, 2018: Roma 2, Tavagnacco 2
We can say this much about Roma during their maiden season, they don't wilt under pressure. While Roma held Tavagnacco in check throughout the first half, and really through the early parts of the second, once the match reached the hour mark things took a turn for the worse, as they surrendered two goals in four minutes. Tavagnacco would hold that lead practically until the death, but thanks to late goals from Elisa Bartoli and Flaminia Simonetti Roma managed to save face on their home ground, showing the mettle we've all come to love over the past few months.
By defeating Sassuolo in a six pointer last week, Roma claimed sole possession of fourth place, placing themselves among the league's elite in the process. However, Roma can't view that as an achievement in and of itself, a point Bavagnoli addressed earlier today:
Reaching fourth place at this point in the season is a wonderful benchmark for success, but what good comes from it if they drop points in the very next breath? It's a trend we've seen on the men's side of the aisle all to often; EDF's side gains ground only to reverse course the following week, so in this instance Bavagnoli is 100% correct: they have not achieved anything. A mark of progress, sure, but nothing upon which one should rest their laurels.
Fortunately for us, Roma has more than enough firepower to overcome any bout of complacency that might bedevil them tomorrow. While Annamaria Serturini has shouldered the scoring load for much of the season, she recently received a lift from Italy's newest call-up, Agnese Bonfantini
Last week was a banner one for the 19-year-old winger. Not only did she get that long awaited call up to the Azzurre (well, not that long, she's only 19) but she almost single-handedly engineered Roma's second half comeback against Sassuolo, exhibiting both her skill in space and calm under pressure, dragging Roma from the depths with a thundering effort off Serturini's free kick and a deftly taken low and away effort from the edge of the 18 yard box.
Not only did those two efforts pull Roma's ass from the fire, they doubled Bonfantini's scoring output for the season. However, if you've been following along all season, you no doubt noticed that's she never far from the action, and if this is indeed her grand awakening, Roma could bust out in a big way tomorrow afternoon.
As impressive as Serturini has been finding the back of the net, having one player account for 27% of your goals is seldom a recipe for sustained success, and with Elisa Bartoli's three goals previously ranking second on the squad, Roma were beginning to look like a one-woman show, and an odd one at that; it's not everyday that you see a striker and left-back rank one-two on the score sheets.
Getting Bonfantini off the schneid give's Bavagnoli's already scintillating attack added depth, and given how the defense has solidified as of late (only two goals allowed over their past four matches), Roma may prove very difficult to handle for any comers, including the stickiest of all foes, complacency.