If you're a fan of our Roma women's coverage, then you're probably already familiar with the story of their 2020-2021 season: lofty expectations turned into middling results. The reasons for Roma's struggles are varied, but the prime culprit has been their terrible, horrible, no good, very bad finishing. While no team on Earth converts 100% of their chances into goals, last weekend's 1-1 draw against Florentia was the perfect encapsulation of Roma's current quagmire: everything that happens before the shot—the planning, the spacing, the sequencing of passing and moving—is practically perfect, but the shots themselves are close enough to give you hope but seem to find anything but the back of the net.
Juventus vs. Roma: December 12th. 12:30 CET/6:30 EST. Juve Training Center, Vinovo
Through nine matches this season, Roma's woeful finishing has seen them drop points to clubs they would have otherwise rolled last year, like Inter Milan, while they needed an 88th-minute winner from Annamaria Serturini to avoid disaster against San Marino, the same team they beat by a combined 10-1 scoreline last season.
Serturini spoke about that frustrating confluence of chances, stats, and performance:
Clearly it’s not our best season, we are creating lots of chances but for some reason we’ve struggled to finish them off. On Sunday [against Florentia] we created 10 or 12 chances and yet we only ended up scoring once.
Unfortunately the statistics tell the story, and we are 14 points off the top [of the table]. But we absolutely won’t give up, we want to work hard and improve the results and that starts on Saturday, where we want to bring home a positive result.
We have to say this much about Roma: they seldom shirk their responsibilities. You have to love Serturini's honesty and positivity here. The disappointment of the season clearly isn't lost on the players, even one as young as Serturini, yet she's not letting that deter her from seeking a monumental upset tomorrow.
The problem with Roma's shoddy work in front of goal is that, against clubs like Inter or Florentia, the Giallorosse's athletic advantages enabled them to remain in the match despite wasting so many chances, but they'll have no such luck against Saturday's opponents, league-leading Juventus.
With a perfect 9-0 record, the Old Lady are perched atop the Serie A table and have to be odds-on favorites to win their third consecutive Scudetto. Led by Cristiani Girelli and national team captain Sara Gama, Juventus have won all nine of their league matches by a 25-5 scoreline and are arguably playing better than at any point during their two-year title run.
While Girelli leads the club (and league) with nine goals, Juve boasts a bevy of goal scorers, including Arianna Caruso (five goals), Barbara Bonansea (three goals), Valentina Cernoia (two goals), and Brazilian attacker Maria (two goals). And with stalwarts like Gama, Aurora Galli, and Lisa Boattin at the other end, Juventus are stacked front to back.
On this titanic matchup, Roma manager Betty Bavagnoli was frank in her assessment:
I don’t think you need any motivation ahead of a game against Juventus,
We all know how important Saturday’s game is. We are not just going up against the side that are top of the table, but a side that has set the standard in women’s football in recent years. They are a squad made up of top class players.
They have incredible quality, they have incredible character and that makes them a top, top side – but my players know all that and they don’t need to be reminded of that to be fired up for the game.
We are focused, we’ve worked hard in training, so now we need to go there and go up against Juventus with the same desire as always – and hopefully find a way to convert a few more of the chances we are creating in every game
A positive result against Juve on Saturday won't suddenly catapult Roma back into European competition, but if they shock the league and score an upset and get a bit of help from Fiorentina (who face 4th place Empoli) and Florentia (who face 5th place Inter), Roma will find themselves in the middle of a logjam, with four clubs potentially stuck between 15 and 16 points, which should be good enough for fourth place come the end of the round.
And, who knows, with Juve playing their third match in a week (that's what you get for playing in the Champions League!), Roma might get lucky and catch them on a rare off-day.
It's not ideal and so very far from what we expected back in the fall, but it would be a tremendous shot in the arm before the league halts for yet another international break. With 12 matches remaining after this weekend, Roma has ample time to recapture the spirit of ‘19-’20. With their 2021 Coppa Italia campaign yet to begin, not to mention the delayed/altered 2020 Supercoppa between Roma, Juve, Milan, and Fiorentina yet to kickoff, there are still trophies up for grabs this season.
If Roma can put their finishing woes behind them and topple the Old Lady, suddenly this lost season won't seem so wasted.