One of the best shows of solidarity from Roma this summer was the decision to give a half-time lap of honor around the Olimpico during yesterday's friendly against Raja Casablanca to the club’s championship-winning teams of last season. It was a fitting way to make sure the Roma men’s U-17 team and Roma women’s Primavera team could get some public attention to reinforce the positive memories they’ve helped build at the club.
No team within Trigoria has put together as many successful memories over the last two seasons as the Roma women’s Primavera team, and the player wearing the armband to lead them to that success is next up in our U-23 countdown.
Number Seven: Eleonora Pacioni
Position: Center-back/Full back
Previous Club: Roma C.F.
Future Comparison: Allyson Swaby
Who Is She?
Though Roman-born Pacioni’s upbringing reads differently to Monza-born teammate Serena Landa, their career path to A.S. Roma colors reads very similar. Like Landa, Pacioni was first given her big break by Roma C.F. in Italy’s second division. In Pacioni’s case, R.C.F. were going through an injury crisis in the winter of 2018 that prompted their head coach to throw Pacioni in at the deep end of the senior team’s defensive duties.
Roma C.F. were so impressed with Pacioni’s level-headedness and determined attitude that she became a permanent fixture with the senior squad in her teenage years. That is... before A.S. Roma caught wind of Pacioni’s performances and invited her (like Landa) to play for A.S. Roma’s Primavera team in the Viareggio Cup of 2020. Again, Pacioni’s approach to the game meant it took little time for local kid Eleonora to win the captain’s armband at Primavera level, and the team results shot up under Pacioni’s leadership on the pitch.
Roma Primavera have won the last two Scudetti (2020 and 2021) within eight calendar months (due to the pandemic), and Pacioni lifted the trophy as Roma’s captain on both occasions.
Now at 19 years of age, it was time for Pacioni to get called up to the senior squad for pre-season training this summer.
What Can She Do?
We pretty much said it all on what Pacioni has shown at the U-19 level in our pre-season defensive preview:
Pacioni can play either center-back or right-back and has already done both for Roma Primavera in the crunch games. As a center-half, Pacioni finished as one of the top scorers in the Viareggio Cup of 2020 (where Roma lost the final to Juventus but Pacioni scored in that very same cup final) to prove that she knows how to use her height advantage to make a real difference at both ends of the pitch.
Last season, Pacioni finished off her year by starring at right-back in Roma’s Scudetto playoff final victory over Inter Milan. She not only aerially dominated her flank on defense, but Pacioni showed the kind of vertical, direct passing to the frontline that we normally see from Allyson Swaby on a weekly basis with the senior team.
What Can She Become?
We just made the comparison above: We’ve got Pacioni framed to become the next Allyson Swaby at this level.
Pacioni has based her game on her natural height advantage and aerial dominance (inside both penalty areas) when she’s playing at center-half but also uses her vision for long-range, vertical passing on the ball that sometimes has Roma fielding her as an auxiliary full-back. That’s exactly the same range of roles that Swaby has performed during her three seasons with the Roma women’s first team, so it’s a good thing Pacioni has a direct role model by which to measure (and overcome) whatever limitations she discovers in her game at the senior level right now.
If Pacioni can use this season as a way to learn from Swaby while Eleonora watches from the sidelines, it could be an inspired piece of teambuilding from Roma for one of their local captains.