When Roma first branched out into women's football in 2018, the squad had an interesting mix of veterans like Elisa Bartoli, Vanessa Bernauer, and Rosalia Pipitone and up and comers like Annamaria Serturini, Agnese Bonfantini, and Camila Labate. Fine players one and all, but you couldn't help but notice the kid with the curly mane racing up and down the right flank, firing in crosses one minute and getting stuck in a tackle the next.
And that once curious kid has suddenly blossomed into one of the most well-rounded defensive talents in Serie A, adding a level of sophistication to her game you seldom see with players so young.
We're talking, of course, about Roma right-back Angelica Soffia, who narrowly missed the top spot in our U-23 countdown.
Number Two: Angelica Soffia
Future Comparisons: Hanna Glas (PSG)
Who is She?
Born just outside of Venice in Abano Terme in the summer of Y2K, Soffia, like so many female footballers her age, got her start playing with the boys in her local academy. Beginning her training as a midfielder at only seven-years-old, Soffia signed with Hellas Verona in 2015 and made her Serie A debut at only 15 in the winter of 2016.
Soffia would remain with Verona for three seasons, making 57 league appearances before signing with Roma in the summer of 2018. In the ensuing three years, Soffia has made 51 appearances in a Roma shirt and even earned her first Italy cap this past February in a friendly against Iceland before scoring a brace against Austria in Italy's 3-2 victory on June 14th.
What Can She Do?
Apart from the 2017-2018 season with Verona, where she scored four league goals, Soffia hasn't stuffed the stat sheet but she has the makings of a top two-way full-back capable of contributing at both ends of the pitch. Blessed with size, speed, strength, and technique, Soffia is finally growing in confidence and seems poised to take her talents to even greater heights.
From Sean's excellent piece this past spring:
Soffia began to not only provide that relentless movement off the ball but found a weapon in her game that we’d never seen from her before. The physical dribbling. The ability to turn opponents on a dime piece, and put Roma on the front foot all over the pitch...
Now Soffia’s confidence in her own skill on the ball is enough that she’s not just evading opponents who make the mistake of closing her down, but sending them the wrong way as she dances past each one
So we’ve got a possible future captain in Angelica Soffia (if the club can hold onto her), a ballplayer who can dribble in tight spaces, send opponents the wrong way, string passes together out wide or in the middle of the pitch, and make runs off the ball to give her team the numerical advantage in attack. At just short of 21 years of age, Soffia is Trigoria’s leading example of total football right now—just as long as she can get her defensive game up for next season.
I can’t really add much to that. Soffia always looked the part of a game-breaking, dynamic full-back, and thanks to her steady progress over the past three years—and the confidence that has come along with that—she's finally putting all that talent to good use.
What Can She Become?
If you want to be considered a top full-back, you have to contribute at both ends of the pitch. It's not enough to be a dangerous dribbler and a skilled passer, you have to track back, get stuck in a tackle, anticipate the attacking moves and master the battle for space in the wide areas.
As we outlined last spring, if Soffia doesn't have the attacking half of that equation down pat, she soon will. Thanks to her size, strength, and quick first step, Soffia is already one of Roma's most dangerous players on the ball and should link up with new signings Thaisa Moreno and Benedetta Glionna to form a dangerous supply line down Roma's right flank.
With her confidence growing, her technique improving by the week, and Roma's roster getting deeper every year, Soffia's attacking numbers are poised to explode this season. If she can sharpen the defensive phase of her game (approach angles, the timing of tackles, pressuring, developing chemistry with the CBs, etc.), she can approach the rarefied air occupied by players like PSG's Hanna Glas, Lyon's Sakina Karchaoui, Barcelona's Marta Torrejón or, dare we say it, Manchester City's Lucy Bronze; full-backs who are as dangerous going forward as they are defending.
Even if she doesn't scale those incredible heights, at the very minimum, she looks like a 10-year starter; the kind of player you can drop in the lineup and not worry about until she retires. But if she can harness all her incredible talents, she can be one of the best full-backs in the game.