With a pair of victories to kick off their season, an early season perch at the top of the league table, and nine players called up for Italy's next round of World Cup qualifiers, Roma is living the dream in the early stages of the 2021-2022 season. After the Giallorosse managed the rare feat of winning 3-0 while not scoring a single goal in their opening fixture against Empoli two weeks ago, Alessandro Spugna's crew left nothing to doubt last weekend in a 4-1 rout over Napoli.
Andressa Alves, Annamaria Serturni, Manuela Giugliano, and Elisa Bartoli provided the punch in a match that was effectively settled in a matter of three minutes, as Roma compiled their first three goals in a 180-second span between the 18th and 21st minutes. It was a convincing turnaround for a club that likely wanted to prove their 3-0 own goal-infused victory over Empoli was a fluke.
Pomigliano vs. Roma: September 11th. 17:30 CET/11:30 EDT. Stadio Gobatto, Pomigliano d’Arco.
And thanks to the results around the league, Roma kicks off week three in first place; the first time the Giallorosse have ever been able to say that. It means nothing this early in the year, but we've quite literally never seen Roma start a season with such fervor.
Standing in the way of a perfect three-for-three start is a trip down to Campania, where Roma will face newly-promoted Pomigliano. While Roma is favored to win this match, one simply never knows how away trips to newly-promoted sides will unfold, so let's run through a few of the key storylines in this round three fixture.
Keep An Eye On
Pomigliano Fact File
You'll have to forgive the awkward title-to-subtitle transition here, but the fact of the matter is we have very little idea who Pomgiliano are, how they'll play, or how they'll react to facing an in-form team like Roma, so let's get the basics out of the way—a tough task considering the complete paucity of information available on them.
Pomigliano, who calls Pomigliano d’Arco home (go figure), reached Serie A Femminile for the first time ever after finishing second in Serie B Femminile last season, trailing Lazio by four points. With 49 goals scored and a +17 goal differential last season, Pomigliano was one of the best and most well-rounded squads in Italy's second-tier last season.
And, based on their first two fixtures in the big leagues, they might have what it takes to stick around. Despite ranking dead last in shot attempts and passes so far, Pomigliano has managed one loss and one draw thus far, falling 3-0 to Juve (no shame there) before notching a surprising draw against Empoli last weekend.
Speaking on the task ahead of them on Saturday, Roma manager Alessandro Spugna talked about the challenges of facing a team tasting Serie A for the first time ever:
The difficulties we could encounter against a newly promoted player? Their enthusiasm: for many of them it is the first year of Serie A. And then we will find a very warm environment. But with our experience, with our personality, we will have to go to Pomigliano for try to compete. Without being frightened
Roma has won 10 of their 11 matches against newly-promoted sides over the past few seasons but faltered in their last such match: a 2-2 draw against Napoli last spring.
So, how exactly does Spugna plan to avoid that ignominy?
And Out Come the Wolves...
Despite not scoring a single goal of their own accord against Empoli two weeks ago, Spugna's attack is absolutely humming at the moment. Through their first two matches, Roma's 17 on target shots trails only Milan for the league lead while their 64.2% possession currently sets the pace in Serie A Femminile. And thanks to the quick legs of players like Annamaria Serturini and Benedetta Glionna, Roma ranks third in successful dribbles.
In a word, Spugna's plan is working to perfection. Thanks to the tidy work of Vanessa Bernauer, Andressa, and Giguliano in midfield—and a defense that has conceded only one goal so far—Roma are dominating possession, and with quick transitions fueled by Andressa, Giugliano, and Roma's full-backs, the forwards are receiving a steady supply of scoring chances, allowing players like Serturini, Glionna and center-forward Valeria Pirone to run roughshod in the final third.
While they didn't find the back of the net against Empoli, as we discussed following that match, Roma kept the Azzurre's backline under constant pressure, putting them in awkward positions and forcing them to make hasty decisions, resulting in three costly errors—a few of which may have scored anyway. Similarly, last weekend against Napoli, Roma's attack overwhelmed their visitors, with the Giallorosse creating at least six clear-cut scoring chances. With a couple of twists of fate, we're looking at a club that could have stacked up nine or ten goals through two matches—things are going that well at the moment.
This is the Roma we have envisioned for the past three years: a club that not only entertains and overwhelms but wins while doing so. Following Saturday's match against Pomgiliano and next weekend's tilt against Inter Milan, things get decidedly tougher for Roma as they'll face Juventus, AC Milan, and Sassuolo in succession. This Roma looks like it has what it takes to run with those three squads, but whatever padding they can build-up prior to then will give them more breathing room as we head into October.
Spugna was wise to preach caution ahead of Saturday's match, but if Roma plays their game, this has the makings of a lopsided victory. Patience, persistence, and execution have paid off for Roma through the first two weeks, and if they keep their wits about them, this weekend should be no different.