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With Coppa Semis Looming, Roma Must Bounce Back Against Bari

One final tune up before the second leg of the Coppa Italia Semifinal

Annamaria Serturini celebrates her match winner against Bari.
AS Roma Women

When we last left the AS Roma women, they were getting humiliated by third place AC Milan in a rather depressing 4-1 beatdown on March 27th, the Giallorosse's second straight defeat. Yes, you read that right. For the first time since mid-October, Roma dropped points in consecutive matches, having fallen to Atalanta at the Tre Fontane on March 24th. In some ways, it's testament to how far Roma have come since the beginning of the season, but in other less optimistic ways, it was a stark reminder for Roma to remember their place—fourth, a cold and distant fourth place.

Roma's now thirteen point gap behind the league's top three is their reality; a grim one at that. Shoring up the defense and (please god, please) retaining Agnese Bonfantini will go a long way towards closing that gap, and should give us an indication how serious the organization is about turning this Roma into a title contending club. Important matters one and all, but ones that will have to wait for warmer weather.

Roma v. Bari: April 13th. 15:00 CET/9:00 EDT. Stadio Tre Fontane, Roma.

Of a far more pressing concern is Roma's week 21 tilt against lowly Bari, the league's 11th place side and a sure-fire relegation candidate (remember, the 11th and 12th sides get the boot to Serie B).

Unfortunately, despite their lack of, you know, talent, Bari was actually a spot of bother for Roma last time out.

As the first fixture wasn't broadcast via the club's Twitter account, clips were hard to come by, but thanks to a first half penalty from Annamaria Serturini, Roma walked away winners in this December fixture.

A Busy Break and a Critical Fixture Looming

Serie A—for the, I don't know, tenth time this season—broke for international play the past two weeks, one that wasn't exactly full of rest and relaxation for Roma's key players. Elisa Bartoli, Annamaria Serturini, Rosalia Pipitone and Vanessa Bernauer were all busy with the Italian and Swiss national teams, respectively, while Allyson Swaby featured for Jamaica.

Roma was well represented at the youth ranks this break as well, with Giada Greggi, Angelica Soffia, Flaminia Simonetti, Agnese Bonfantini and Martina Piemonte on international duty with Italy's U19s and U23s. Even Camilla Labate, Roma's incredibly intriguing 20-year-old defender, was logging minutes with the club's Primavera squad over the break.

And as you can see from that jaw dropping assist, it was a rather productive break for Roma's ragazze as well. Bernauer and Bartoli each set up goals for their respective national teams, while Bonfantini and Piemonte each found the back of the net for the U23s during the break.

Like I've been saying all year long: this team is ludicrously loaded.

With a—and I don't even think this is strong enough a word—critical fixture against Fiorentina in the Coppa Italia semi-finals looming on the 17th, Roma have to hit all of their marks against Bari on Saturday.

Given the break, the two match losing skid, and the semi-finals on the 17th, don't expect Betty Bavagnoli to pull any punches against Bari. If we don't see Greggi, Bernauer, Serturini, Piemonte and Bonfantini in attack I'd be floored.

This is it. This is their last chance to get things right before they travel to Firenze next week. With the aggregate score even at one, and with the Viola holding the away goals advantage, Roma can't afford any missteps.

That's not to say Roma should overlook Bari. In fact, it's quite the opposite: Roma have to approach Saturday's fixture with an equal amount of urgency. Hitting Bari with all they've got, blowing them off the pitch with a torrent of overlapping runs and succinct give and goes, will be the perfect appetizer for the full course on the 17th.