With eight points from their first five matches and a five-point deficit behind second-place Sassuolo, it's safe to say that the beginning of Roma's 2020-2021 campaign hasn't gone according to plan. The Giallorosse's Champions League hopes haven't set sail yet, but the marina is definitely getting crowded. By dropping points to Sassuolo, Empoli, and last weekend against Inter Milan—three teams Roma were more than capable of beating soundly—Betty Bavagnoli's side has put themselves in an unenviable position: in order to close that five-point gap, Roma has to be damn near perfect from here on out, and that includes looming matches against Juventus, Fiorentina and AC Milan; the leagues traditional powerhouses.
San Marino vs. Roma: October 17th. 15:00 CET/9:00 EDT. Campo Acquaviva, Acquaviva.
But that perfection also encompasses Saturday's fixture against San Marino, the league's 11th place side and one that only reached Serie A thanks to a co-efficient edge they held over Lazio, who remain in Serie B. San Marino hold the honor of being the only club in the league hailing from a foreign country, but the intrigue begins and ends right there. Through five matches, San Marino has conceded 18 goals while only scoring once—the worst marks in the league by far.
In two Coppa Italia matches last season, Roma didn't waste much time imposing their superiority over San Marino, dusting off the Titans 10-1 over two fixtures, including a 6-1 shellacking in San Marino last February.
Struggling or not, Roma should make quick work of San Marino on Saturday, but don't count Bavagnoli among those overlooking San Marino:
We need to turn the corner, and we go to San Marino with that in our minds.
We know we played well in Milan but there, like other times, we didn’t make the most of the chances we had. I’m expecting a response from the group - we tried to change a few things during the week, working on a few different options during the build-up phase.
I’m expecting us to produce another great performance and if we do that then I am sure the results will come with it.
San Marino will want to get a result too - they also need to put down a marker in their season...They will be determined and will try to make things difficult for us in every way. But we are ready for that and want to make sure we finally pick up three points away from home.
Source: AS Roma
Pretty standard coach speak there, but Bavagnoli is right about one thing: Roma need to turn a corner in this match. Through the first five rounds, we've seen Roma create chances at the ready only to see their finishing let them down; the free-wheeling, high scoring and entertaining attack we saw last season has disappeared completely. With only six goals through five matches, Roma's attack is the sixth-worst league wide, trailing fifth-best Milan by a whopping six goals.
With a resounding performance against San Marino, Roma can turn that proverbial corner just in time for the international break. While the five teams above them have relative gimmes this round, Roma can at least recapture the spirit with which they played last season, giving Bavagnoli two weeks free of fixtures to retool and sharpen her squad before a crucial run of fixtures in November when Roma will face Fiorentina and AC Milan, as well as kicking off their Coppa Italia schedule.
Roma will be without midfielders Andressa and Giada Greggi for this match, so look for Bavagnoli to tinker with her lineup, perhaps giving time to young players like Heden Corrado in defense or Alice Corelli and Serena Landa in attack.
While you never want to overlook an opponent, a team with San Marino's defensive deficiencies could be the perfect foil for a Roma side looking to kick-start their dormant attack.