With a 7-1 drubbing to lean back on, Roma didn't have much reason to worry against Chievo Verona today. Even with a three week lay off and a trip north, the Giallorosse still made short work out of 10th place Chievo yesterday. How quick, you ask? Well, Maria Zecca put this thing to bed after maybe 75 seconds. But, as the scoreline clearly shows, the Jersey girl's goal was just the beginning for Roma today—this was about as one sided as a game of football can be.
Given the gulf in talent between these two sides, the only real point of pre-match speculation was just exactly how Betty Bavagnoli would line up her side. And, as it turns out, she kept her foot on the gas...
With the exception of slotting in Jenny Bitzer and Maria Zecca, this was pretty much Roma's A or A- lineup at this point in the season. Giada Greggi, Agnese Bonfantini and Annamaria Serturini, the Derek Jeter/Mariano Rivera/Jorge Posada of this team, you know if Roma were the mid 90s Yankees, all started against lowly Chievo, while Bavagnoli rounded out the eleven with most of her nominal starters—Elisa Bartoli, Vanessa Bernauer and Federica Di Criscio among others.
Given that lineup of heavy hitters I suppose it was somewhat surprising that Zecca, who has been stuck behind Martina Piemonte and Luisa Pugnali for much of the season, effectively won the match after 75 seconds, but Zecca has made the most of her limited time, scoring two goals in little more than 200 minutes on the pitch.
And that was pretty much all she wrote. Unlike last time around, Chievo didn't strike back and were actually pinned down 3-0 after Annamaria Serturini bagged a brace with goals in the 12th and 21st minutes, the latter of which was a stunning effort from distance, one that should garner a few votes for goal of the year come spring.
Roma offered no quarter in the second half either, as they kept pressing the issue deep in Chievo's final third. With Greggi, Bernauer, and Simonetti controlling the ball and dictating the tempo, Roma found seams in the Chievo defense seemingly at will, while Bonfantini and Serturini flying on the wings made an already fast pitch seem like a race track.
Somehow, Chievo managed to forestall complete disaster, or at least further embarrassment, until the dying moments of the match. While Roma weren't running up the score NCAA-style, they were just that much better than Chievo; the chances just kept coming, so it was no surprise they tacked on two goals from the 84th minute onward, with Simonetti and second half sub Martina Piemonte getting on the score sheet before the final whistle.
1-0, 2-0 or 5-0, Roma won the day simply by doing what they do best—hitting their opponents right in the mouth. There is very little wasted movement or possession in Bavagnoli's team, and today they were about as crisp as we've seen them all season long. And if things play out in their favor with the remaining fixtures in the round, they could end the weekend only four points behind third place AC Milan, who they face at the end of the month.
This team plays beautiful football, so if you've been dragging your feet this season, you've only got four (and maybe five) more chances to catch them before the season ends.