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Camelia Ceasar Took the Awards Among Roma’s Goalkeepers in ‘20-’21

Roma’s keeper is still only 23 but added yet more accolades to her CV, while Baldi and Pipitone played support roles.

AC Milan v AS Roma Women - TIMVISION Women Cup Final Photo by Jonathan Moscrop/Getty Images

Of my years following football, whether casually or in analytical mode, I still know next to nothing about what makes the difference between a good goalkeeper and a great one. But two summers ago was when Roma signed Camelia Caesar from the AC Milan reserves, even I could recognize the significance of bringing one of Milena Bertolini’s young champions from the old Brescia dynasty days to Roma.

In Ceasar’s two seasons between the Roma goalposts, she’s had her game time split identically over both league campaigns; playing no more or less than 13 Serie A games each season. That could either suggest she’s never entirely won the full confidence of former Roma coach Betty Bavagnoli, or it suggests—with the current state of play in Serie A Femminile and the Italian game set to turn professional in 2022—that clubs are trying to spread the game time between as many players as possible, in order for everyone to get the spotlight before the professional contracts to come.

In either case, Ceasar managed to usurp Roma’s former number one keeper Rosalia Pipitone in 2019-2020, but then Ceasar saw her own position challenged by Roma newcomer Rachele Baldi this season. As it turns out, between all three names, the only constant is Ceasar herself.

Player Reviews & Ratings: The Goalkeepers

Camelia Ceasar

AS Roma v AC Milan - Women’s Coppa Italia Final Photo by Matteo Ciambelli/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

Stats for 2020/21 Serie A Season

  • Clean Sheet Percentage: 46.2%
  • Roma Goals Scored While On Pitch: 23
  • Roma Goals Conceded While On Pitch: 13
  • Points Per Match: 1.92

Season Summary

Ceasar made more errors than her experienced would suggest, but she surpassed those dark moments to finish the season on an incredible high—both individually and as part of Roma’s team success. On the dark side of things, there was Ceasar misjudging her bearings in the Supercoppa semi-final against Juventus and getting beaten directly from a corner in the league.

The Napoli corner that floated in, before Ceasar knew anything about it, didn’t prove costly as Roma won that game 3-2 on the day. But faced in a one-on-one against Juve’s Maria Alves in that January Supercoppa game, Camelia stepped outside of her area before getting sent off for handling the ball in the 88th minute. She also would have been miffed about her parry in that game that gave Bonansea a second chance to put Juventus in the lead.

While Roma lost that game in extra time, it turns out that, much like Ceasar’s own fortunes since then, the club was galvanized and actually took positives out of that defeat to reach previously unseen levels of success.

From January onwards, something changed about the club and Ceasar was at the heart of that change. It was her between the sticks for the crunch matches in the season run-in, and Camelia stole the show with her penalty saves in the Coppa Italia shootout victory over her former club AC Milan. She’s also noticeably become more settled when she’s part of Roma’s possession at the back, and her general distribution of the ball shows more conviction in what the team is trying to do in the big games.

Outlook for Next Season

Ceasar finished this season as the Coppa Italia Final MVP, and just took the Italian Players’ Association Player of the Month award for May. So she’s made a big impression in 2020-2021 and the club would be hard-pressed to overlook Ceasar as the club’s starter for a third consecutive season in the next campaign.

That being said, goalkeeper is a position where Serie A Femminile is constantly trying to push itself to new levels. Ceasar’s agility and character will definitely buy her time, but the club is not going to stop looking for competition that can push the goalkeeping department to the next echelon.

Final Grade: 8 out of 10

Rachele Baldi

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

Stats for 2020/21 Serie A Season

  • Clean Sheet Percentage: 11.1%
  • Roma Goals Scored While On Pitch: 12
  • Roma Goals Conceded While On Pitch: 11
  • Points Per Match: 1.33

Season Summary

Rachele Baldi has the frame and size advantage over Ceasar but hasn’t shown the conviction to match. Baldi was trusted in two big league games this season: Playing at home to Fiorentina and starting the away trip to AC Milan. Baldi’s mistakes in both games proved costly to Roma’s league campaign (we won’t count the dead-rubber game against Juventus when the league was already wrapped up).

Tatiana Bonetti was arguably the most talented forward in the league before she left for Spain, but Baldi still would have expected herself to have done better against Bonetti’s free-kick that saw Fiorentina win a point in Rome. And we still can’t explain the communication breakdown between Baldi and Manuela Giugliano in that trip to Milan, which saw Baldi get sent off in the aftermath. Roma lost that game 1-0 and, though the eventual Milan winner definitely wasn’t directly from Baldi’s actions, going down to ten players on the day didn’t help.

Baldi came into Rome with the number one jersey pinned on her, and hopeful of breaking into the Italy senior squad after winning call-ups by Bertolini last spring. Now Baldi isn’t even the third or fourth-choice Italy goalkeeper in recent international breaks, such is the hit that her reputation has taken since moving to Roma.

She’s still only 26-years-old, so stranger things have happened than Baldi making a renaissance in Rome and becoming the international keeper that many reckon she can be. But it’s going to take a much better season than the one just gone by.

Outlook for Next Season

AC Milan v AS Roma - Women Serie A Photo by Jonathan Moscrop/Getty Images

Baldi turned down the interest of big clubs to move to Roma last summer, and she’s paid the price for just nine league games (and some poor performances) since then. She’s lost her Italy prospects for the time being and, unsurprisingly, has been linked with a move away from Roma for months now.

The most recent rumors saw Baldi set to move to Inter Milan, but that may have died down now that former Juventus coach Rita Guarino is linked with the Inter coaching job.

In any case, Baldi will want to be a starter to get her career back on an upward trajectory. We honestly don’t know if that’s realistically possible with Roma right now. Nonetheless, at least Baldi now knows what it’s like to be part of a major trophy win; and deservedly so as Baldi did figure in some Coppa victories for Roma along the way.

Final Grade: 5 out of 10

Rosalia Pipitone

AC Milan v AS Roma - Women Serie A Photo by Jonathan Moscrop/Getty Images

Stats for 2020/21 Serie A Season

  • N/A

Season Summary

It would be futile to list Pipitone’s stats in her final Roma season, as the veteran only came on in that emergency away day at AC Milan for less than a half-game’s worth of action. Behind the scenes, she’s affectionately referred to as ‘Mammi’ by the rest of the Roma squad and has acquitted herself well as one of the club’s vice-captains.

We still remember the days when Pipitone was the club’s number one, and her nearest competition was former player-turned-goalkeeping coach Valentina Casaroli. It’s only been three years since then, but damn this league’s competition has kept moving at a fast, relentless pace.

Outlook for Next Season

Is it retirement for Pipitone? That’s yet to be confirmed. But comments after the Coppa Italia final certainly made it clear that Pipitone is leaving the club this summer.

Final Grade: N/A

Watch Out For...

AS Roma U19 v FC Internaionale U19 - Women Primavera Final Four Semifinal Photo by Emilio Andreoli - Inter/Inter via Getty Images

With Pipitone certain to vacate one of Roma’s goalkeeping spots and Baldi rumored to be on her way out, that leaves Roma looking for new names to compete with Camelia Ceasar in goal. Who better, then, but to promote fellow Italy-raised keeper Katia Ghioc who, like Ceasar, comes from Romanian heritage?

Ghioc has certainly come a long way over both her Roma Primavera Scudetto-winning seasons. Her physical stature in the 2021 Scudetto Final Four playoffs was nearly unrecognizable from the Ghioc of 2019, and her conviction in joining in the team’s possession play, at Primavera level, suggests that Katia is going to be ready to make the jump to senior level sometime soon.

Meanwhile, the club is rumored to be talking with Fiorentina’s reserve keeper Stéphanie Öhrström to come play a squad role in Roma next season.