There are good teams, there are great teams, and then there are dominant teams. What distinguishes the latter from the former is the extent to which your opponents feel hope. Good teams can be beaten with focus and execution; throw in a bit of luck and some friendly refereeing, and great teams can be toppled, too. But dominant teams remove hope entirely—you won't win. You know, we know it. Now, let me show you how we will crush your spirits. It's going to be swift, decisive, and brutal. And there's nothing you can do to stop us.
With a perfect 7-0-0 record and an absurd +25 goal differential, dominant may actually sell the women of Roma short. Their 29 goals scored are 11 more than second-place Juventus, while they've only conceded four goals, three of which came in the season's first two matches. They have three of the top five goal-scorers and three of the top five assist-providers in the league. No matter how you slice it, Roma makes Serie A their personal playground.
However, none of that matters in the Champions League. After breezing past Vorskla Poltava in the qualification round by an aggregate 9-1 scoreline, Roma was cast into Group C alongside PSG, Ajax, and Bayern Munich. With two domestic league champions (Ajax and Bayern Munich) and one runner-up (PSG), Group C is considered by many as the proverbial group of death.
And the Giallorosse kick off their Champions League campaign against arguably the most formidable team in that lot, Bayern Munich. Currently sitting atop the Frauen-Bundesliga table, Munich hasn't dominated their league in quite the same fashion as Roma. Still, with players like Penile Harder and Lea Schüller at their disposal, the German champs can run with any team on the continent.
It won't be easy, but if Roma can score a positive result tomorrow, all bets are off in the Group of Death. With that in mind, let's examine a few key quotes, players, and storylines ahead of Wednesday's group stage opener.
Keep An Eye On
The 26-year-old forward is one of Germany's most potent scorers, ranking among the top three goal scorers in the Frauen-Bundelisga in the past three seasons. Since making her full debut with Bayern Munich in 2020, Schüller has scored 57 goals in 92 appearances in all competitions, including two goals (and three assists) in her first six league appearances this season. And with nine goals in 23 career Champions League appearances, Schüller has been nearly as effective on the European stage.
Roma's 33-year-old Japanese international may be new to Serie A, but with 20 European trophies (domestic league/cup, Champions League) to her credit, Kumagai is one of the most decorated players in Europe, full stop. And the most recent note on her impressive resumé was last year's Frauen-Bundesliga title, which she won with Bayern Munich.
That's not to suggest that she'll be able to diagnose every move Munich makes, but she's not likely to be rattled by tomorrow's surroundings. And with two goals in her first six appearances this season, her Roma career is off to a resounding start.
Roma manager Alessandro Spugna remained tight-lipped about his lineup selections ahead of this match. Still, whether she plays 90 minutes or nine, Kumagai's ability to control the midfield and advance the ball up the pitch will be critical for the Giallorosse.
Roma's Tactical Approach
When asked whether or not Munich's counter-attacking style would alter his plans, Spugna remained coy while admitting that his club is prepared for two distinct styles of play:
"We will have to have courage in trying to play according to our characteristics right from the start. These matches are conditioned by certain moments. We must be ready to play two types of matches: our classic style but also knowing how to defend ourselves and strike in counterattack. Our plan doesn't change at the moment, but we also have to adapt to the match. The word courage is very important, it will be important throughout the group and starting from tomorrow's match we will have to play with a lot of courage."
Speaking to the club's social media channels, Spugna continued to heap praise on Munich, calling the German club one of the best in Europe, a side that beat mighty Barcelona in last season's group stage.
Despite Spugna's polite responses, he'd be foolish to mess with success. Admittedly, Serie A Femminile doesn't have as much quality or parity as the Frauen-Bundesliga, but Roma is an offensive juggernaut, so Spugna's best bet might be to steal a page from José Mourinho's book: hit your opponents early and then retreat into a defensive shell to weather the storm.
Roma may not have as much European experience as Bayern Munich, but with top-shelf talents like Kumagai, Manuela Giugliano, Emilie Haavi, and Valentina Giacinti, the Giallorosse have more than enough talent to score an upset on the road tomorrow.
Do that, and Group C could be up for grabs.
Kickoff: 18:45 CET/12:45 EST
Location: Bayern Munich Campus, Munich
Weather: 50 degrees, 90% chance of precipitation
How to watch: DAZN Women's Football