By now you're all well aware with how enamored I've become with the AS Roma women's team. Not only are they ludicrously talented, but they uphold all the values we hold dear about Roma—pride, passion and commitment. Throughout their inaugural season we've seen Roma blowout opponents, claw back from multi-goal deficits, and play the league's top sides as equals. Led by Elisa Bartoli and a bevy of burgeoning young talent, Roma are seemingly primed for success in the long run, but with only a handful of matches remaining this season, we're about to lose our fix.
Never fear, because if things go according to plan, Roma will be sending several representatives to this summer's World Cup, which kicks off on June 7th in France. While the groups have been cast and the schedules have been released, we're still a few months away from provisional and final rosters, but that doesn't mean we can't speculate, right?
Given that there are only 24 nations involved in the tournament, and that Roma's roster is predominantly Italian, our focus will be somewhat narrow, but let's take a look at who may be reppin’ Roma this summer in France.
FIFA Ranking: 53rd | Best WC Finish: First appearance | Group C
The Reggae Girlz took the back channel approach towards qualifying for the World Cup, finishing third in the CONCACAF tournament, but are nevertheless a side to watch come June, and should be well represented by Roma.
While her debut season with Roma has been somewhat blunted by injuries and the presence of Giada Greggi, Vanessa Bernauer, Claudia Ciccotti and Flaminia Simonetti, Carter was a critical component in Jamaica's qualification campaign. With six appearances throughout the CONCACAF qualification tournament, including goals against Bermuda and Antigua and Barbuda, Carter was a mainstay in coach Hue Menzie's midfield and seems like a safe bet to resume that role come June.
Connecticut by birth and Jamaican by blood, Swaby also made six appearances (all starts) for Jamaica during their qualification campaign. Swaby has been a revelation since arriving in Roma from the Icelandic league, blessing the backline with size, strength, speed and poise; she was a steal in every sense of the word, so let's hope she continues her ascendancy on the global stage this summer.
FIFA Ranking: 16th | Best WC Finish: Quarter-Finals | Group C
Conveniently enough for us, most of Roma's World Cup combatants were cast into the same group, as Italy was drawn alongside Jamaica, Brazil and Australia in a rather tough Group C. Italy qualified for the World Cup, their first in 20 years, in a breeze—winning seven of eight qualifying matches, winning their group in the process.
Roma figures to be well-represented here, but it all begins and ends with the club captain.
Roman born and bred, Bartoli has been arguably the Giallorosse's best and most consistent player during their inaugural season. Blessed speed, agility and tenacity, Bartoli is as adept at breaking down a defense as she is at jump starting an attack, and has been a mainstay for Roma, leading the club in minutes and trailing only Annamaria Serturini in goals.
While Bartoli doesn't captain Italy, her role with the Azzurre is no less important. During their rousing qualification campaign, Bartoli made six appearances (five starts) totaling nearly 470 minutes. Occupying her normal fullback role, Bartoli teams up with the Juve duo of Barbara Bonansea and Cristiana Girelli to give Italy an incredibly potent left wing.
If the qualification campaign was any indication, Bartoli figures to have a busy summer ahead of her.
If you've read between the lines of our AS Roma Women's coverage, then you're probably well-aware who my favorite player is—the other #22 that Roma managed to get from Inter is pretty good, too. With her speed, creativity, and playmaking ability, Bonfantini looks every bit like an Italian Alex Morgan. Through 16 matches this season, her first in Serie A, Bonfantini has four goals and at least half as many assists, play that has not gone unnoticed on the international stage.
While she hasn't logged any official minutes for the Azzurre yet, at 19-years-old her inclusion among the likes of Bonansea, Girelli and AC Milan's Valentina Giacinti and Daniela Sabatino, four of the league's top ten scorers, speaks volumes about her development and potential.
Bonfantini will look to parlay not only her success with Roma into a World Cup roster, but her phenomenal track record with Italy's youth sides. During last summer's qualifying rounds for the 2019 U-19 European Championships, Bonfantini was unstoppable, scoring seven goals in only eight appearances, helping propel Italy to the top of their group.
Should she make the final cut for France 2019, Bonfantini will struggle to find playing time, but earning a spot among the heavy weights of Italian football will be an honor well-earned and a sign of things to come for Bonfantini.
At only 20-years-old, Serturini has already won a Scudetto, the Coppa Italia and the Super Coppa during her days with Brescia, but never before has she had a season like this—Through 17 appearances, Serturini's eight goals pace Roma and are tied for seventh in the league. While she can't yet match the likes of Bonansea or Sabatino, she's proving herself to be an efficient and effective scorer, already doubling her previous season high in goals scored.
Much like Bonfantini, Serturini's stellar play this season has led to her first official Italy cap this past January when she made a late appearance during Italy's 2-1 friendly victory over Chile. While she's just making a name for herself at the senior level, she's made over 30 appearances for Italy at the youth level, including five goals in nine appearances during the 2017 U-19 European Championships in Northern Ireland.
Serturini and Bonfantini are kind of in the same boat, where making the trip to France 2019 will be an accomplishment in and of itself. However, when 2023 rolls around, don't be shocked if both women are key figures for Italy.
Roma's number one keeper has been an understudy to Juve's Laura Giuliani during Italy's qualification campaign, logging only 90 minutes to Giuliani's 630. However, Pipitone has been a rock for Roma this season, making all 17 league starts while keeping five clean sheets. Considering she was on the squad throughout Italy's qualification campaign and has been steady for Roma all season long, look for her to resume her spot as Italy's number two this summer.
While Germany and England did qualify for the World Cup, neither Jenny Bitzer nor Emma Lipman featured during the qualification campaign, and figure to be long shots for France 2019. However, for a first year club, sending six players to the game’s preeminent competition is a remarkable feat, and had Switzerland qualified we could make it a cool seven as Vanessa Bernauer logged nearly 300 minutes in their ill-fated qualification campaign.
Between Bartoli, Bonfantini and Serturini, Roma figures to play a large role in the national setup for the foreseeable future, but they might have some company before too long. With Heden Corrado making her way with the U-17s, Giada Greggi and Angelica Soffia becoming mainstays at the U-19 level and Martina Piemonte gaining traction with the U-23s, Roma figures to loom large in the continuing ascension of Italian football.
Of that bunch, Greggi probably stands the best shot of earning a reserve role at the World Cup this summer, though realistically she'll probably have to wait until the Euros in 2021 to start making her mark with the Azzurre, but she has all the makings of a top midfielder.
Certainly things can change between now and June 7th when the tournament kicks off, but with six players looking like safe bets for France 2019, there will be plenty of Roma to go around this summer.