When last we saw the women of Roma, they were putting the finishing touches on a 5-0 laugher against Tavagnacco in the Coppa Italia two weeks ago; Roma's first fixture in this year's cup competition. It was a welcomed sight after the Giallorosse were left bitterly disappointed by their 1-0 league defeat to AC Milan a week earlier. A victory in that match would have reignited Roma's European hopes for next season, but thanks to a 70th minute penalty converted by Valentina Giacinti, Roma were once again left wanting against the league's topsides.
Tomorrow's opponents, Florentia, are definitely not one of the league's better clubs. Through eight matches, Florentia has three victories and five defeats, while sporting a -2 goal differential thanks in large part to an anemic offense that has managed only seven goals, the league's fifth worst mark.
Roma vs. Florentia: December 6th. 14:30 CET/8:30 EST. Stadio Tre Fontane, Roma.
But, in a measure of how incredibly frustrating and disappointing Roma's 2020-2021 season has been thus far, Florentia are only three points behind Roma on the table, making this a rather unexpected six-pointer, but no less important a fixture than Roma's match against Milan prior to the break.
As we've mentioned many times throughout this season, Roma returned nearly their entire squad from last season, one in which Betty Bavaganoli's side sported the second most potent attack in the league and carried a +24 goal differential through last year's COVID canceled season, but have struggled to find that form in the new season.
In fact, with the trade up from Amalie Thestrup to Paloma Lazaro at striker, one could argue Roma's attack actually improved this year. But, Lazaro aside, Roma have struggled mightily in front of goal, seeing their once dynamic attack waylaid by poor finishing, injuries, and a bit of bad luck.
Points that were not lost on Bavagnoli in her pre-match press conference:
We are a team that always wants to dictate the play and we’ve been showing that in each game. We know that we have things we need to work on though, like our chance creation and finishing.
We’ve been working on those things in training, trying to make progress while maintaining the same focus and standards with the things we’ve been doing well, too.
Far be it from me to argue with the coach, but I'd peg the finishing as the greater problem than chance creation. Roma may be down Giada Greggi in the midfield, but between Andressa, Vanessa Bernauer and Manuela Giugliano (who has been in fine form nearly all season), the chances have been there; we've just seen far too many shots sail over the cross bar, skirt just wide of the post, or simply die on the infamous pitches of Serie A Femminile.
It's one thing to create a dozen chances and only finish two against the likes of San Marino or Pink Bari—clubs Roma can overpower on athleticism alone—but it's quite another when that same profligacy rears its ugly ahead against the Milans, Fiorentinas and Juves of the league, where Roma's inefficiencies and insecurities are on full display.
Making matters worse for Bavagnoli will be the absence of Andressa Alves, Roma's playmaking winger/midfielder. Unfortunately, due to the timing of her return from Brazil, Andressa did not have enough time to train ahead of this match and was left off the Matchday squad altogether.
In her absence, look for Bavagnoli to field Giugliano alongside Andrine Hegerberg and Vanessa Bernauer in midfield, while Agnese Bonfantini, Annamaria Serturini and Lazaro should start up top. At the back, expect Allyson Swaby and Tecla Pettenuzzo to resume their duties in the middle of defense with captain Elisa Bartoli and Angelica Soffia occupying the full-back spots. While in goal, Rachele Baldi (suspension) will likely be replaced by Camelia Ceasar.
Goalkeepers: Ceasar, Pipitone, Ghioc
Defenders: Bartoli, Corrado, Erzen, Ohale, Pettenuzzo, Soffia, Swaby
Midfielders: Bernauer, Ciccotti, Giugliano, Hegerberg, Severini
Forwards: Bonfantini, Corelli, Lazaro, Landa, Serturini, Thomas
The match will be broadcast on Roma TV + for those of us outside of Italy and TIMVISION if you live in the boot.