With a chance to pull even with Juventus at the top of the table several weeks ago, Roma's Scudetto dreams were dashed after they committed the sport's gravest sin: conceding a match-deciding own goal. With the two clubs separated by a mere three points, a Roma victory would have, at the very least, pulled the Giallorosse into second place on tie-breakers with a chance to eclipse the soon-to-be four-time reigning champions down the stretch.
While Roma managed to recover from Angelica Soffia's 11th-minute gaffe to earn a draw thanks to Paloma Lázaro's 61st-minute equalizer, for all intents and purposes, Roma's title dreams were dashed on the early Match afternoon. The club has recovered since then, reeling off five wins in their next six matches to extend their unbeaten league run to an incredible 14 matches, but it's hard not to be disappointed—they were this close to knocking the Old Lady off her perch.
But it's not all bad news. Thanks to the Giallorosse's splendid season, the women of Roma have two exciting targets within reach: repeating as Coppa Italia champions and securing the first Champions League berth in the club's short four-year history. Roma will have to wait until May 22nd to tackle the former (against Juve, of course) but they can settle the second matter tomorrow without even trying.
With a five-point cushion over third-placed AC Milan, Roma is sitting pretty as we head into the league's penultimate round, so much so that the Giallorosse can back their way into the Champions League if Milan drops points (via a draw or defeat) to their city rivals Inter Milan tomorrow. Qualifying by default would ring a bit hollow and would rob us of what is sure to be an uplifting scene at the Tre Fontane, but it's a testament to how successful the Giallorosse have been this season—they've done the work, and now it's time to enjoy the spoils.
A point manager Alessandro Spugna preached in his pre-match comments:
"It's about keeping calm. We've already done the work."— AS Roma Women (@ASRomaWomen) May 6, 2022
️ Coach Alessandro Spugna previews Saturday's game against Sampdoria, where we could secure a Champions League spot for next season...#ASRomaWomen #ASRoma pic.twitter.com/g7pvcxFn2S
With a chance to qualify for their first-ever Champions League place tomorrow, the Derby della Capitale next weekend, and the Coppa Italia finale the weekend after that, Roma has no shortage of distractions as they prepare to face sixth-place Sampdoria, a side that gave them all they could handle last December.
And in an ironic twist, the match was decided by an own goal—you can't make this stuff up.
December 5, 2021: Sampdoria 1, Roma 2
Per la prima volta sfideremo la Samp al Tre Fontane. All’andata abbiamo vinto 2-1 grazie a questo gol al 92'— AS Roma Femminile (@ASRomaFemminile) May 6, 2022
Ecco tutte le curiosità sul match https://t.co/GHZivbmAyT#ASRomaFemminile pic.twitter.com/4SqyWG9r6N
Roma's first look at newly-promoted Sampdoria went swimmingly in the early stages of this early December match, with Paloma Lázaro drawing first blood in the 15th minute, but the deluge of goals we expected never came as Sampdoria put up a surprisingly tough fight. After trading blows with Samp for the ensuing 40 minutes or so, veteran forward Stefania Tarenzi leveled the match just shy of the hour mark, setting the stage for a tense finish.
And in the first of many gut-check performances this season, Roma battled back and, with a little bit of luck, stole the day after Manuela Giugliano's left-footed shot from the edge of the box received a fortuitous deflection from Debora Novellino, neatly tucking inside the left post, giving Roma their fifth-straight win at that point in the season.
But what will it take to send Sampdoria packing this time?
Glad you asked, let's take a look!
Keep An Eye On
Anyone. Like, Literally Anyone. They're All Likely to Score.
On the surface, Roma's 49 goals, which places them second in the league, may lead you to believe they boast a world-conquering goal scorer, but looks can be deceiving. While Paloma Lázaro set a new career-high this year with nine league strikes, the Spanish striker trails capocannoniere favorite Daniele Sabatino by three goals. Perhaps if Spugna's tactics featured more one-way traffic in her direction, Lázaro would have climbed higher on the scoring chart this year, but with 14 different goal scorers, no team shared the wealth more than Roma this season, although Samp was awfully close, as their 26 league goals came from 13 different players—the second-best mark in the league.
So if you're a betting person, skip the prop bets and just go with the simple over/under.
Stefania Tarenzi & Melania Martinovic: The Roma Killers
With seven combined goals against the Giallorosse, not many players have victimized Roma more frequently than Tarenzi and Marinovic. A 34-year-old veteran striker, Tarenzi has slowed down as she's aged, but with 18 league goals over her past three seasons, the Lodi native still has a knack for scoring and put one past Roma last season when she was playing for Inter Milan. Martinovic, while not nearly as accomplished as her Italian teammate, has scored three career goals against the Giallorosse: one in 2018-2019, one in 2019-2020, and another in 2020-2021...are you sensing a pattern?
And lastly, be sure to keep an eye on...
The Out of Town Scoreboard
With the Derby della Capitale set for next weekend, the cup final at the end of the month, and the promise of the Champions League looming, you can forgive Roma if they're a bit distracted. No matter how hard Spugna preaches focus, after such a long season, and with visions of European nights already dancing through their heads, a momentary loss of focus should be expected.
However, if the worse comes to pass and Roma falters tomorrow against Samp, salvation is only a decent WiFi signal away. With simultaneously 2:30 CET kickoff times, don't be shocked if the cameras catch a glimpse of Roma fans (and maybe a few players on the bench) reaching for their phones to check the Inter-AC Milan score. All Roma needs to lock down second place in Serie A and the league's second and final Champions League place is for Milan to either draw or fall to Inter on Saturday.
So, just in case the shots go astray or the ball doesn't bounce their way, just make sure your phone is charged.