While Roma returned from their THREE WEEK international break over the weekend to face Fiorentina in the semi-finals of the Coppa Italia, the Giallorosse are now set to resume their Serie A schedule with an away fixture against Chievo Verona. With nearly a month between domestic fixtures, it may be easy to forget, but Roma has been on quite a tear this winter, winning seven of nine matches (all comps) since New Year's Day, including three in a row, a span that saw them outscore their opponents 9-4.
That magic may have been missing from their midweek Coppa Italia date against Fiorentina, but Betty Bavagnoli's side showed their patented mettle in a come from behind 1-1 draw in the semifinals. Not a win, sure, and they allowed the always perilous away goal, but thanks to a second half penalty drawn by Vanessa Bernauer and eventually converted by Annamaria Serturini (she tapped home her own rebounded shot), Roma gave themselves a fighting chance to advance to the finals.
Chievo v. Roma: March 16th. 15:00 CET/10:00 EDT. Stadio Olivieri, Verona.
Domestically speaking there is far less at stake today, but as Bavagnoli has repeatedly preached, finishing the season on a high note is a worthwhile achievement in and of itself, and the first step in that quest is a trip to Verona to take on 10th place Chievo Verona, a side they...uh...handled quite easily last time around.
November 17, 2018: Roma 7, Chievo 1
At long last, Roma were on the giving end of a 7-1 drubbing! I know, hard to believe, right? But what became a blowout actually started a bit nervy. While Claudia Ciccotti got things started with a goal in the 15th minute, Chievo pounced right back, leveling the match in the 27th minute. But then came the deluge. Serturini scored the eventual match winner just before the stroke of halftime, but Roma would pile on an additional five goals in the second half, as Elisa Bartoli, Giada Greggi, Emma Lipman, and Federica Di Criscio joined the scoring party.
If we're talking about goals and pure entertainment value, then this was the high point of Roma's debut season thus far. But is a repeat in the cards?
Hard to say, but Chievo are still pretty, pretty, pretty bad. Sitting in 10th place, Chievo are just five points above the drop zone, holding a slim margin over Bari and Orobica. As one would expect given that record, they’ve struggled mightily this season, boasting a -26 goal differential.
And believe it or not that 7-1 smack down from November wasn't their worst defeat of the season. On December 15th, they lost...you ready for this...9-3 to their city rivals, Hellas Verona. Blowouts are one thing, but getting embarrassed like that, in a derby no less, has to be demoralizing.
But it gets worse. Including those two blowouts, plus a six-nil blanking at the hands of Juventus, Chievo has lost by a six-goal margin three times. And if that weren't bad enough, when we factor in losses to Fiorentina, Atalanta and Milan, Chievo has six defeats by five goals or more. Though to be fair to them, they did score five of their own against Florentia, but any way you slice it, Chievo are the dregs of the league.
Under normal circumstances, I'd say this would be a chance for Bavagnoli to rest her star players ahead of the second leg of the Coppa Italia semifinals, but with the return leg on April 17th, she has ample time to rest her regulars.
What’s more, there are only five domestic fixtures remaining, so Bavagnoli can really attack this one anyway she wants—roll out her best XI and put this thing to bed early, mix and match veterans and youth, or go for a complete tear down. The world is her oyster.
Whatever decides, if the first fixture was any indication, this could be an open and entertaining affair.