With three straight wins by a combined 12-2 scoreline, Roma's 2021 turnaround is off to a flying start. Buoyed by the continued excellence of Annamaria Serturini, Elisa Bartoli, Manuela Giugliano, and Allyson Swaby, as well as the recent addition of star defender Elena Linari, Roma are well on their way to putting a disappointing 2020 behind them. Taking home their fourth-straight victory will be no easy feat as Roma travel to Tuscany to face 7th place Florentia in the Coppa Italia Quarterfinals on Sunday.
The first step in Roma's 2021 turnaround was a 7-0 dismantling of city rivals Roma CF, a quick and resounding victory that advanced the Giallorosse to the Coppa quarterfinals for the third-straight season. Roma's opponent, 7th place Florentia San Gimignano, reached the quarterfinals after narrowly defeating Hellas Verona 1-0 in late November.
Florentia vs. Roma: January 31st. 14:30 CET/8:30 EST. Stadio Santa Lucia, Santa Lucia.
With only three points separating the two clubs on the league table, Roma and Florentia are a lot closer than their disparate reputations might lead one to believe. In fact, back in December, Florentia played a role in Roma's 2020 tailspin.
December 6, 2020: Roma 1, Florentia 1
If we had to pick one match...just one...that encapsulated all of Roma's 2020 struggles, this would be it. That highlight reel is less than two minutes long, but I count no fewer than eight missed chances, only one of which was saved. From crossbars being hit to shots slamming into the side netting to wide-open sitters being shanked, Roma mastered the miss-hit in this match, with forwards, midfielders, and full-backs all getting a piece of the action.
And as if all that wasn't bad enough, Roma lost two points in this match thanks to a late equalizer from Melania Martinovic—a born and bred Roman who played for RES Roma in the two seasons that immediately preceded the birth of AS Roma.
Sunday's match is the first of three Roma and Florentia will play down the stretch: the two-legged Coppa quarterfinals on the 31st of January and 14th of February and the return fixture in Serie A in early May.
In her pre-match press conference, Roma manager Betty Bavagnoli spoke about the importance of winning the first leg:
We work without ever losing sight of the goal, obviously taking into account that there are two matches, but the game is away from home and it is very important. We prepare it as always, taking into account the goal and everything we have on worked in the last period and that is working better, with great determination, commitment and the will to bring home a positive result
That's a bit of a jenky translation, but it’s standard cup fare: racking up away goals is the name of the game; win, lose, or draw. Despite their gaggle of missed chances last time out, Roma were clearly the superior team on that December afternoon and needed only to convert one of those eight misses to grab all three points—surely they can't be that wasteful again, right?
We can't say for certain if Roma's attack will overwhelm Florentia to quite the same degree, but they are undeniably in fine form right now, thanks in large part to the performances of their four most talented players: Serturini, Giugliano, Bartoli, and Andressa. If Bavagnoli can manage to ring commensurate performances from players like Paloma Lázaro, Agnese Bonfantini and/or Lindsey Thomas, then Roma's attack should run roughshod over Florentia, setting up an easy return leg on Valentine's Day.