While I obviously love writing about Roma's women's team, given their current standing in the league, I find it a bit hard to find the proper angle when discussing their weekly ambitions. See, unlike the men's side, where there is a clear and definitive objective— securing fourth place and the sweet, sweet Champions League cash that comes with it—the women don't have anything tangible within their reach. With only two European spots up for grabs in Serie A Femminile, and an 11 point gap behind the final victors of that spot (AC Milan), Roma are sort of stuck in the middle ground—nothing to really gain and nothing to really lose.
However, as we've been saying all season long, given that this is the club's first season in existence, even the most mundane of achievements are literal firsts, serving as benchmarks and guideposts for this new venture. These are things worth repeating, but for the sake of keeping things fresh, I try to find new angles to discuss, be it the club's depth or the emergence of any one of their U23 stars in the making, but my perspicacity is being put to the test this week.
This weekend Roma travels to Bergamo to take on Orobica. While Orobica may be fun to say, they sure aren't fun to watch. With only five points through 16 matches, Orobica are dead last in Serie A and have actually lost to Roma twice already, 3-0 in the league back in November and 3-1 in the Coppa Italia in December.
So you can see the pickle I'm in, right?
Betty Bavagnoli, of course, isn't as quick as me to overlook Orobica:
Tomorrow will be a very difficult game – one where I will ask everyone not to underestimate the challenge that is to come.
Orobica don’t have many points this season but we know they are a good side. We will have to play as we can, being strong when we need to be, managing the game in the right moments and focusing for the entire 90 minutes.
Every game we have is difficult and important. We know we have to keep pushing forward, focused and humble, to strengthen our hold on fourth even more and keep improving the standard of our performances.
Pretty standard coach speak, but if Roma don't wipe the floor with Orobica on Saturday then you know something went terribly wrong.
Really, the only wrinkle we have to keep an eye on is simply who Bavagnoli will roll out there Saturday afternoon. With Claudia Ciccotti and Manuela Coluccini each out with long term injuries, Bavagnoli leaned on Flaminia Simonetti to fill the void in midfield, and while Roma's #7 availed herself quite well against Florentia last week, she was subbed off with an apparent leg injury of her own, and if last week's patterns prove true to form, look for Kristrun Antonsdottir to be the next women up.
Beyond that, the only lineup decision really in question is at striker, where Luisa Pugnali and Martina Piemonte have shared minutes this season. While neither player has exactly subdued opposing defenses this season, for the sake of their long-term health, Roma really has to get Piemonte going.
No disrespect to Pugnali intended (she's a pretty versatile forward), but Piemonte is so incredibly strong on the ball, so adept at holdup play and has such great close control, not to mention a hell of a right foot, that it seems like she should be the first among equals. However, for a variety of reasons it just hasn't come together this season for her, so any measure of consistency and good form they can conjure out of her down the stretch will go a long way to making Roma even more dangerous next season.
TL;DR. Piemonte is legit, she just has to get rolling.
No matter how Bavagnoli rounds out the lineup tomorrow, Roma have more than enough weapons to make life miserable for Orobica, so while there may be no immediate league or European rewards in their future, Roma are working towards something more important.
With each passing moment and each successive victory, Bavagnoli's side is forcing their way into the league's elite, and while the dividends won't pay out this season, there may be a windfall in Roma's not too distant future.