While I like to think that I've got a handle on the Serie A Femminile landscape, as well as an ever-increasing grasp on women's football in general, one thing that still catches me off guard is watching two Roma games on the same day! This double dose of giallo e rosso has been on our plates the past two weekends, with the ragazze rousing me out of my sleep at 6:30 am on a Sunday—and if that's not love, I don't know what is. Fortunately for me, that ungodly awakening paid off, as Edin Dzeko's last gasp header in Bologna followed up a howitzer of a shot from Annamaria Serturini in Firenze earlier in the day, putting a clean six points in Roma's bag for the weekend.
As the women's match wasn't broadcast via Twitter, we weren't able to provide a more immediate recap, so please accept these three delayed takeaways from Roma's 2-0 victory over Alia Guagni and Fiorentina.
A stone cold penalty save from Camelia Ceasar and a 30-yard strike from Serturini were all Roma needed to defeat Fiorentina yesterday, but newcomer and Roma fan for life Andrine Hegerberg added an insurance goal in the second half—one look at the smile on her face and it was plain to see that goal meant a great deal to her.
That's really it for the blow by blow (but, again, those kits look phenomenal without a sponsor) so here are three key takeaways from Sunday's victory.
Annamaria Serturini Leads the Pack
Serturini may only be 21-years-old and roughly 5'4” tall, but when it comes to scoring goals, she is a giant. Her 11 goals paced the squad last season, tying her for sixth in the league, and were enough to earn her a spot at this summer's World Cup, but this goal is indicative of something else entirely: growth. Serturini has always been able to dance around opponents, but a defense can (to an extent) take that away from her with tactical adjustments. If, however, she can flash this sort of skill, hitting shots with such power and placement, then her game will rise to an entirely different level. I'm not suggesting she has to score 30-yard golazos every week, but if opponents think she can, she'll have a leg up on the competition.
Allyson Swaby Has Arrived
Swaby, a mid-season arrival last year, took a bit of time acclimating to life in the capital, but by seasons’ end she was effectively stealing playing time from incumbent starter Emma Lipman, logging nearly 700 minutes down the stretch. If the first two matches of this year are any indication, consider that acclimation period mastered.
Last week we saw Swaby render Valentina Giacinti useless for the first two-thirds of the match, and as you can see in the clips above, Swaby was crucial in keeping the clean sheet yesterday—pulling a ball off the line in the first half and deflecting a wide-open shot in the second.
Swaby brought some impressive tools to Roma last year, but now she's really becoming a master of her craft. If Bavagnoli can find a consistent partner for her, Roma's defense should really take off.
Hey, speaking of which!
Bavagnoli's Prime Lineup is Taking Shape
With eight new signings this summer, Betty Bavagnoli was always bound to endure a feeling-out period with her newly reformed squad, but if the changes she made between weeks one and two are any indication, she's almost got it figured out. With their combination of skill, intelligence, and tenacity, the trio of Giada Greggi, Manuela Giugliano and Andrine Hegerberg has to be Bavagnoli's top choice, while the equally talented troika of Serturini, Amalie Thestrup and Agnese Bonfantini gives Roma three hellaciously athletic and gifted forwards.
While Tecla Pettenuzzo got her debut yesterday, it's a little too soon to tell whether Bavagnoli prefers her or Federica Di Criscio to pair with Swaby, but with the return of the captain on Sunday we finally got a glimpse of Roma's first choice full-backs: Kaja Erzen and Elisa Bartoli.
However, the real interesting wrinkle remains in goal, where Ceasar could use her penalty-saving clean sheet as a springboard to stealing Rosalia Pipitone's job. She's certainly not as experienced as the former Italy international, but her added bit of athleticism could go a long way to shoring up Roma's back line.
And with Andressa Alves, Lindsey Thomas and Angelica Soffia coming off the bench, Roma's top 14 of 15 players are far better than last season and should enable them to suffer the slings and arrows of a full season.
Of course, now that Roma are rolling they face an untimely international break, with their next match against Empoli slated for early-to-mid October.