One simply never knows how a football club will react coming out of an international break. At best, you just hope to avoid injuries while eeking out a 1-1 draw, and at worst, well, we've seen that film too many times—those two weeks off can derail even the hottest clubs. Now, take all that uncertainty and tack on an extra week off and you'll begin to understand what Roma was up against last week.
With some 20 days in between matches, the Roma women had every excuse in the book to drop an egg against newly promoted Empoli last week. However, rather than falling prey to that time off, Roma looked sharper than ever, putting Empoli on the back foot after only two minutes. With Vanessa Bernauer drawing first blood before the match even had a chance to breathe, the rout was well and truly on—Lindsey Thomas, Agnese Bonfantini and Annamaria Serturini would add to Empoli's woes before the afternoon was over, giving Roma a convincing 4-0 win.
Verona v. Roma: October 19th. 15:00 CET/9:00 EDT. Stadio Olivieri, Verona.
It was a match Roma was always meant to win, but you won't catch me parsing a four-nil win. Empoli aren't exactly world beaters, but this match was indicative of what this team can become—fast, creative and relentless.
Despite Empoli's horrid form at the moment, Roma needed this win. With Juventus, the two-time reigning champions, starting off their season with nine perfect points, and with Milan following suit, Serie A is once again stratifying into the haves and have-nots. With only two Champions League places up for grabs, there is absolutely no room for error as these four clubs (Juve, Milan, Roma and Fiorentina) vie for their place among Europe's elite.
It may sound like an awkward comparison, but Serie A Femminile is essentially SEC football. Every. Match. Counts. Drop one point and your BCS Championship aspirations soon turn into the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl—a fate we wouldn't wish on our worst enemies.
If Roma wish to avoid that ignominy, they have to approach each week with the urgency of a Juventus fixture and perform with the exactitude we saw against Empoli. It's not an easy alchemy to achieve, but given the utter lack of wiggle room at the top of the table, they really have no choice—and it all starts tomorrow against Verona.
The Mastiffs may be lacking in luster, but with five points through three matches, they are right on Roma's heels in fifth place. With a 2-2 draw against Inter Milan in week one, a 2-1 victory over Florentia and a scoreless draw against Bari to their credit thus far, Verona has played three incredibly tight matches early this season, so they won't exactly roll over at the sight of Roma.
But Roma were built for matches like this. With new found depth and greater talent at the ready, the Giallorosse run two-deep at practically every position. If Agnese Bonfantini is off her game, here comes Annamaria Serturini. If Giada Greggi is carrying a knock, we've got Manuela Giugliano ready, willing able to eviscerate you. And if all that isn't working, good luck getting past Allyson Swaby.
The beauty of this Roma team rests in its construction—they can hit you from every angle, outworking and outwitting the best opponents with their depth and variety of talent.
Verona aren't the best, but Roma need to approach this match as if they were.
Every. Point. Matters.