Just yesterday, when discussing Roma's current progress through their first seven matches, I lamented (again) about how much I hate the international break. What I failed to take into account was, now that Roma has a women's senior team, we're never that far from Roma. And coincidentally enough (though I’m sure it's by design), the women's international break ends just as the men's begins, sparing us from further boredom.
Given how compacted the schedule has been on the men's side, with three straight weeks of multiple matches, you may have forgotten that the women's campaign even started. With a disappointing shellacking at the hands of AC Milan to start the season—though Roma held them at bay for nearly two-thirds of the match—the Giallorosse were really up against it when they traveled to Firenze in late September.
Roma v. Empoli: October 12th. 15:00 CET/9:00 EDT. Stadio Tre Fontane, Roma.
Thanks to a stunning goal from Annamaria Serturini and a follow up from newcomer Andrine Hegerberg, Roma walked away 2-0 winners, stealing three massive points from last season's second place squad. Had Roma taken six full points from these two behemoths, it probably would have sent me into hysterics (not to mention putting Roma in the early driver's seat for the title), but beating Fiorentina so soundly, especially after coming undone against MIlan, should restore your faith in Betty Bavagnoli's squad.
With newly promoted and currently winless Empoli making the trip to the Tre Fontane, Roma's welcome back from the break is a bit softer than their start to the season. Through their first two matches in Serie A, Empoli have managed only one goal while allowing three, falling to Juventus in week one (no shame there) while losing a close match to fellow promoted site Inter Milan just before the break.
I can't pretend to be an expert on the Empoli ladies, but they do feature Flaminia Simonetti, our eighth ranked U23 prospect. With Hegerberg and Manuela Giugliano effectively pushing her out of the squad, Simonetti, a born and bred Roman, opted to spend the season on loan in Toscana instead. And with two straight starts and two full 90s, it's safe to say it was a wise decision. I'm not exactly sure where her future lies, but you can bet she'll be looking to impress on Saturday.
As far as the Giallorosse are concerned, it was quite a productive break. Not only did Elisa Bartoli and Manuela Giugliano score for Italy on the break, but Giada Greggi—the future of Rome—made her debut with the Azzurre, coming on as a second half substitute for Juve's Martina Rosucci against Bosnia-Herzegovina earlier this week.
With everyone comfortably back in the red and yellow, look for Bavagnoli to hit the ground running with her A-Team: Bartoli, Kaja Erzen, Allyson Swaby, and Federica Di Criscio in defense, Greggi, Giguliano and Hegerberg in midfield with Agnese Bonfantini, Amalie Thestrup and Annamaria Serturini pairing up front.
The only wrinkle we may see rests in goal, where Camelia Ceasar's club debut against Fiorentina could not have gone any better—a clean sheet and a PK save. Rosalia Pipitone has her bested in stature and experience, but Ceasar looked every bit the up and comer before break, so it will be interesting to see which way Bavagnoli leans.
No matter how she lines ‘em up, Bavagnoli's squad should be the prohibitive favorites on Saturday.