The past ten days have been a profile in extremes for the women of Roma. Prior to their March 6th fixture against Hellas Verona, Roma was riding a seven-match winning streak, brushing past opponents by a combined 28-3 scoreline. It was quite a dramatic turnaround for a club that struggled through the tail end of 2020. But that impressive run came to an unexpected halt when Verona stunned Roma in a one-nil upset.
Roma had every right to enter another tailspin, but rather than dwelling on the negatives Roma went out and scored their first-ever victory against Juventus, toppling the Old Lady 2-1 in the first leg of their Coppa Italia semifinals. Not only was this Roma's first victory over Juve, but it also marked the first time any Italian club had defeated them in almost two years.
Roma vs. Inter Milan: March 20th. 12:30 CET/7:30 EDT. Stadio Tre Fontane, Roma.
But that wasn't the end of the hit parade. On Friday, the club announced they extended captain Elisa Bartoli's contract through 2023, while the Italian Footballers Association named both Bartoli and Manuela Giugliano to their 2019-2020 team of the season.
It's not all good news for Bartoli, however, as she'll miss Saturday's league fixture against Inter Milan with a knee injury. Joining Bartoli on the trainer's table will be manager Betty Bavagnoli, who will miss the match with flu-like symptoms.
As we said, Roma has been operating at extremes this week. Excuses won't hold water once the whistle blows, so let's take a look at the key points of interest in Roma's Round 16 fixture against Inter.
But first, a quick look back at the first fixture.
October 11, 2020: Inter 1, Roma 1
Inter Milan were newcomers to Serie A last season but thanks to the decision to not resume the 2019-2020 season after it was shut down due to the pandemic in late March, Roma and Inter only met once last year—a 4-1 win for Roma. There would be no such luck this time around, though.
As you can see from the highlight package, Roma had a few clean looks at goal early in the match but couldn't convert their chances and were in danger of heading into halftime even at one. But Serturini stole a goal just before the stroke of halftime when she took advantage of a generous rebound off a Manuela Giugliano attempt from distance.
The lead wouldn't last, unfortunately, as Inter leveled the match in the 69th minute, punishing Roma for several missed chances early in the half.
With that in mind, lets look at how Roma can avoid a repeat.
Keep An Eye On
It goes without saying, but without Bartoli, Roma's backline will have to do a bit of rearranging. While it would be quite interesting to see the Giallorosse morph into a three-woman backline with Tecla Pettenuzzo, Allyson Swaby and Elena Linari, that will likely remain a pipedream.
In Bartoli's absence, Roma will likely slide Angelica Soffia, their usual right-back, over to the left while using Kaja Erzen on the opposite flank. Neither can hold a candle to Bartoli in any phase of the game, but they're more than capable of stifling Inter's attackers, though you'll want to pay close attention to the Gloria Marinelli vs. Erzen matchup.
Marinelli, a 23-year-old Italian forward, is Inter's leading goalscorer and typically lines up at left-wing, pitting her directly against Erzen, who has struggled with bouts of inconsistency this season.
Help for Serturini and Lázaro
Annamaria Serturini and Paloma Lázaro have combined to score 15 of Roma's 24 league goals thus far, a 63% share of the Giallorosse's goal output. Serturini's seven goals are tied for seventh in the league and are helping solidify her case as one of the best attacking talents in the league while Lázaro's eight strikes represent a new career-high.
While that's all well and good, they've received practically zero help from Roma's wide forwards, particularly Lindsey Thomas and Agnese Bonfantini, who teamed up for 16 goals last season but have failed to find the back of the net through Roma's first 15 league matches.
That just won't cut it. If either of those players can get hot down the stretch, Roma could finish the season on a high note and potentially make a run at third place Sassuolo.
How to Watch: Roma TV+