In our two plus years covering AS Roma's new venture into Serie A Femminile, we've often lamented the stratified nature of the league. With Juventus, Fiorentina and AC Milan having a death grip on the top of the table, the competitive balance in the league suffered from a lack of parity. The emergence of Roma's women's side in 2018 shook up the standings somewhat, but what was a three-horse race essentially just became a four-horse race, and really only two of those contestants had a shot at the title (Juve and Milan).
So, you could imagine our surprise when Sassuolo scored a shocking 3-1 upset over Fiorentina last weekend. Couple that with Empoli's surprisingly strong start to the season, including a victory over Roma and near upset over Juve, and the table is suddenly in flux. Juve remain top of the table for the time being but Sassuolo, Empoli, Milan and Fiorentina are all within three points of first place (as of the start of this round), while Roma are five off the lead.
Inter Milan vs. Roma: October 11th. 12:30 CET/6:30 EDT. Stadio Facchetti, Milano.
Thanks to their opening round draw with Sassuolo and their 2-0 defeat to Empoli prior to the international break, the Giallorosse have sputtered to start the new season and now face a six pointer against 7th place Inter Milan, who are only three points behind Roma on the table.
Inter have had a rough start to the season—four points, four goals scored and a -10 goal differential—but the schedule makers did them few favors as they kicked off the season against Fiorentina, Sassuolo, Verona and newly promoted Napoli.
Buoyed by new signings like Danish attacker Caroline Møller Hansen (three goals already) and Roma loanee Flaminia Simonetti, as well as incumbents like midfielder Lisa Aborghetti (two assists), Stefania Tarenzi and club captain and Inter royalty Regina Baresi, the Nerazzurre are far more dangerous than their record suggests.
Coming out of the break with that stinging 2-0 loss to upstart Empoli still ringing in their ears, Roma not only needed a victory but they had to leave little doubt as to who was the better side in their round four fixture against Hellas Verona. While the final score (also 2-0) wasn't that resounding, Roma ran roughshod over the Mastiffs and could have easily pushed that score line to four or five to nil (and that's being generous to Verona), especially when you consider the fact that Agnese Bonfantini essentially had a goal ignored when her shot forced a keeper into a “save” over the goal line.
So while the scoreboard wasn't as lopsided as we'd have liked, Roma peppered Verona with shot after shot, using the speed and agility of Annamaria Serturini and Angelica Soffia down the left flank to exploit the overmatched Verona defense, while Andrine Hegerberg nearly missed a goal of her own following a late run into the box.
Despite the blown call by the referee, a few near misses and some pretty stellar work from Verona's keeper, Roma turned in precisely the sort of performance they needed after struggling to create and/or convert many chances through their first three matches.
With Empoli falling to AC Milan on Saturday afternoon, a win would against Inter would put Roma on 10 points, vaulting them over Empoli and potentially putting the Giallorosse in fourth place, two points behind second place Milan.
While there's nothing wrong with table watching even this early in the season, the real question we have to ask is simply which Roma side will show up: the one that tore Verona and Pink Bari's back-line to shreds or the slow, passive side we saw against Sassuolo and Empoli?
Roma took a bit hit last weekend losing Giada Greggi for the season with an ACL tear, but all of the squad's best and brightest are fit and ready for this match. Inter have a few intriguing faces but they're simply no match for Roma’s speed outwide and their technique through the middle.
After a middling start to the season, the time for Roma to flex their muscles and launch an assault on the top of the table is now.