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Sinners & Saints: San Marino 2, Roma 3

Paloma Lazaro near single-handedly wins the 3 points for Roma, to give her team new belief moving forward.

AS Roma v Pink Bari - Women Serie A Photo by Silvia Lore/Getty Images

There’s no doubt yesterday’s victory over San Marino wasn’t the cricket score that we may have been dreaming of before kick-off, but San Marino had long since showed signs of adjusting to Serie A in the weeks prior to Roma’s visit. First, there was the San Marinese’s shock win over Florentia, and then came a closely fought 1-0 loss to high-flying Sassuolo.

And trust us when we say the Neroverde have been the surprise package of this season so far, earning the kind of results that make Roma’s 0-0 draw against Sassuolo on opening day look a lot better in retrospect. But going back to the game against San Marino yesterday, there was the referee’s performance that let all kinds of fouls go by unpunished, easily favouring the kind of match where San Marino could simply break down Roma’s momentum by parking the bus and fouling for time.

These things happen and will happen again over the course of a season. Despite everything, Roma dug deep and came out with the win. A win is a win is a win, any day of the week.

Serie A woman Roma-Pink Bari Photo by Massimo Insabato/Archivio Massimo Insabato/Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images

The talk about replacing or sacking Betty Bavagnoli comes off as completely out of place to me. There are huge building blocks to that argument that are missing. Answers to basic questions like: Which (available and realistic) coach is better than Bavagnoli right now? What problem are we actually trying to solve by replacing the coach? What changes are we hoping a new coach will bring to the team this season?

Will the team’s confidence problems get solved by changing the coach purely for the sake of making a change? No, it won’t. Can those problems get solved on the pitch? We just watched it get done yesterday.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re facing San Marino, Juventus or anything in between; there is no substitute to the mantra that seeing is believing. Yesterday’s Roma, including one player leading our Saints list below, showed themselves that you can overcome setbacks over 90 minutes and get the win, to carry that belief into future games.

The Saints

Paloma Lazaro

I didn’t see Roma’s winning goal in real time yesterday, but confirmation finally came this morning in the highlights package above. Not only was Roma’s win delivered by a Lazaro assist, but what an assist it was: A blind through-ball, played on the turn to put winning scorer Annamaria Serturini through on goal. That is just the latest in a long list of Lazaro’s moves and versatile skillset, adding a completely different dimension to Roma’s offensive play this season.

Prior to that assist, Lazaro popped up with two first-half goals that any poacher would be proud to claim. Lazaro’s tally already stands at 5 goals in just 6 appearances for Roma so far.

We could have said the same for Serturini’s late-game heroics in the cold light of this morning, but any credit we could give to Serturini for the winning goal was cancelled out by conceeding the very penalty that let San Marino back into the game in the first half. If ever you needed a player to just turn up and dig your team out of trouble on the day, Lazaro’s performance was exactly it.

Elisa Bartoli

Serie A woman Roma-Pink Bari Photo by Massimo Insabato/Archivio Massimo Insabato/Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images

Roma’s captain showed that the Giallorosse have more than a few options on both flanks, after kicking off the game at right-back yesterday. No sooner did Bartoli acquit herself well down the right flank, in tandem with Lindsey Thomas, then Bartoli would go on to deliver a perfect and simple right-foot cutback pass into the box for Lazaro’s opening goal.

With Bavagnoli feeling that Roma were having too much trouble down the left flank, Bartoli was then shifted back to her customary position for the second half and helped bring balance to Roma’s overall play.

The Sinners

Rachele Baldi

FC Internazionale v AS Roma - Women Serie A Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images

As we mentioned last week, Roma’s dominance of games in this league is so frequent (even if it wasn’t as pronounced yesterday) that we’re limited to singling out players on the Sinners list for just lone, isolated errors over the course of 90 minutes. But goalkeepers should be used to that anyway, so Baldi won’t be the first or the last.

We don’t even have a full or partial highlights package of the game yesterday to revisit Baldi’s parry that led to San Marino’s second goal. But a parry it was, straight down the middle of the pitch allowing San Marino an easy chance off the second ball.

All this being said, I’ve personally barely seen her play, and I’d like to see much more of Baldi before judging. She has the physique, the mobility and the presence that Roma simply haven’t had in goal during previous seasons of Pipitone and Ceasar.

Serie A woman Roma-Pink Bari Photo by Massimo Insabato/Archivio Massimo Insabato/Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images

And while Ceasar is a good keeper and proven winner, parrying balls and giving away easy chances was exactly the flaw in Ceasar’s armour last season, at one point even punching a Sassuolo corner into her own goal, so mistakes happen.

What we were really worried about with Baldi, going into this season, is whether she could do as good a job recycling the ball with her feet as Ceasar. It’s inevitable that that’s going to be the biggest part of the keeper’s job this season, with the majority of the league sitting back against Roma. We also know Ceasar wasn’t even on the subs bench last week, as she was given a leave of absence in the stands to mourn to recent death of her father.

But the Romanian-Italian will want to get back on the pitch soon, as there’s nothing like getting back to doing what you love in order to anchor yourself to the present. The Baldi-Ceasar competition for that number 1 spot lives on.

Up Next

Now the Serie A Femminile takes a pause for the international break, with Italy playing a EURO 2022 qualifier at home against Denmark. Only Elisa Bartoli and Manuela Giugliano have made the Italy squad for this round, so let’s hope they can keep their morale up with the Nazionale and stay injury-free. In the meantime, I’m hoping Andressa phones up Kathellen to ditch Inter and come play for Roma.