After dispatching Glasgow City and Paris FC in the first qualification round of the Champions League last week, the women of Roma are riding high. In their first taste of European football, the Giallorosse pummeled Glasgow City, the 15-time winners of the Scottish Women's Premier League, before squaring off against Paris FC last Sunday. After enduring 120 minutes of deadlocked football, the Giallorosse edged out the Parisiens in a penalty shootout, largely thanks to the heroics of goalkeeper Camelia Ceasar, who made a crucial save in Roma's 5-4 PK victory.
While they wait for the draw for the second and final Champions League qualification round, Alessandro Spugna and the Giallorosse are free to focus on their domestic affairs. After finishing second to Juventus last season, expectations are sky high at the Stadio Tre Fontane, with Roma considered as legitimate title contenders as they begin their fifth season in the top flight.
With successive matches against Milan, Juventus, and Fiorentina, Roma has little room for error in the season's opening weeks, which makes today's opener against Pomigliano more critical than it appears on the surface. With such a daunting list of fixtures on the horizon, Roma needs to make quick work of Pomigliano, who avoided the drop by only four points last season.
However, before we fret about that gauntlet of matches, let's look at a few likely keys to today's fixture.
Keep An Eye On
With a nearly week-long stay in Scotland and two high-intensity matches under their belts, Roma may be on top of the world—giving them a definitive form advantage over Pomigliano—but Spugna may already be clocking the minutes on his players' legs.
When asked whether or not those matches may give his side an advantage, Spugna carefully toed the line:
"It could be an advantage as we've already played two important games. We'll also need some fresh legs because the Champions League games took a lot out of the girls. We'll make the changes necessary. All the squad are keen to be involved, and all of the players should feel important and ready."
With the defense taking a particular toll during those two matches, we may see heavy rotation along the backline as Elisa Bartoli, Moeka Minami, Elena Linari, and Lucia Di Guglielmo each played 210 minutes in Glasgow. In that light, we could see some combination of Beata Kollmats, Carina Wenninger, and Elin Landström in action against Pomigliano.
Likewise, midfielders Manuela Giugliano and Giada Greggi played all 210 minutes last week, while Brazilian playmaker Andressa wasn't far behind with 207. Spugna won't sit all three players, but we'll likely see Claudia Ciccotti and newcomer Norma Cinotti at some point on Sunday.
Can Giacinti Open Her Scoring Account?
Roma's acquisition of three-time scoring champion Valentina Giacinti was arguably the best move any Serie A club made this summer, so much so that we tabbed it as the perfect transfer. From her goalscoring record to her style of play to her familiarity with Giugliano, Giacinti was tailormade for this Roma squad, and while she split time with Paloma Lázaro during last week's Champions League matches, make no mistake: Giacinti was signed to lead the line.
While she had a bit of a down year last season, her bad day (10 goals in 18 appearances) would be a dream come true for many strikers in this league. At 28-years-old and surrounded by talents like Giugliano, Andressa, Greggi, Benedetta Glionna and Annamaria Serturini, Giacinti could be in line for her fourth capocannoniere.
And what better way to start that quest than slinging a few past Pomigliano today?
Alice Correlli: The Next Big Thing
Our sixth-ranked U-23 player last summer (we didn't have the time/resources to run another countdown this year, but it will return), Corelli remains a bit of a mystery—in the best sense of the word. With strength, speed, and technique for days, Corelli can conceivably play anywhere along the frontline, though as we outlined last year, she really is a player that thrives on the ball, so her future may remain on the flanks.
Corelli's professional career amounts to only 17 appearances in a Roma shirt, but she's a few months shy of her 19th birthday, and her potential remains as vast as ever. And, at least for this season, it's up to Pomigliano to foster that potential. She may not play on Sunday, but Roma fans will want to track her progress with Pomigliano this year—she could be a very large part of the Giallorosse's plans very soon.