Before Thursday's match, we didn't know much about Glasgow City FC, Roma's first-ever Champions League opponent, but their bona fides were enough to command respect. A 15-time league champion, Glasgow also boasted a further 15 cup titles and advanced to the quarterfinals of the Champions League as recently as 2020. In any sense of the word, they were a formidable opponent, but that mattered little to a Roma side hell-bent on making a strong first impression on the European stage.
And after rolling over Glasgow in a 3-1 victory, in which Roma was responsible for all four goals, the Giallorosse now face Paris FC with a spot in the second qualification round on the line. While Roma has never faced Paris FC (not to be confused with PSG), the book on these particular Parisiens is a long and challenging read.
The Opponents: Paris FC
Boasting seven 2022 Ballon d'Or nominees, the French league is indisputably at the top of the heap in European football. By simply playing in France, which currently tops UEFA's co-efficient rankings, Paris FC, who finished third behind Lyon and PSG, could be considered the most formidable opponent Roma has ever faced.
And while she didn't make the cut, Paris FC forward Clara Matéo was a menace last season, scoring 11 goals and adding eight assists in 22 league appearances. The 24-year-old Nantes native carried that form into the early stages of the Champions League, scoring a brace last week against Servette.
So if you're looking for Paris' danger-woman, look no further.
How Will Roma Manage the Matéo Threat?
"It won't be an easy game by any means, but we have our qualities too..."— AS Roma Women (@ASRomaWomen) August 20, 2022
️ Coach Alessandro Spugna gives his thoughts ahead of Sunday's @UWCL game against Paris FC!#ASRomaWomen #ASRoma pic.twitter.com/wpFH5G35Td
Roma cannot afford to sleep on Matéo, so it will be interesting to see who Alessandro Spugna pairs in defense with Elena Linari. While she recovered from her own goal on Thursday, Moeka Minami could lose her place to the more experience Carina Wenninger, who has nearly 30 Champions League appearances to her credit and has faced Matéo and PFC's other French internationals over the past several years with Bayern Munich and the Austrian National Team.
As important as it is for Roma to contain Matéo, manager Alessandro Spugna reminded us all that the Giallorosse have their qualities, too, and Paris should be equally wary of the capital club. And despite finishing third in Division 1 Féminine last season, the Paris FC defense wasn't impregnable (relatively speaking), conceding 21 goals in 22 league matches.
With Benedetta Glionna and Paloma Lázaro striking up a productive partnership in the second half against Glasgow, don't be shocked if Spugna plays the hot hand, hoping that the duo can poke holes in the Parisien defense. Of course, as one of Italy's most proven goal scorers, Valentina Giacinti could tilt this match in Roma's favor after a rather pedestrian performance last week.
After such a thrilling Champions League debut on Thursday, Roma has their work cut out for them today. However, the element of surprise and a few in-form forwards could propel Roma past Paris and into the following qualification round, where they'll have the chance to advance to the group stage proper.