While Serie A Femminile can't yet compete with their colleagues in Spain, France, or England, Italy's run to the quarterfinals of the 2019 World Cup was a watershed moment for women's football in Italy. And when taken with clubs like Juventus, Roma, and Inter Milan establishing women's teams, the 2020s have been a boon for women's football in Italy. And with the league's media presence growing each year and players flocking to the league from all over the world, the league is definitely on the rise.
Despite this nearly unchecked growth, or perhaps because of it, the powers that be decided to pare the domestic league down to 10 teams, presumably to ensure that all 10 clubs were fiscally solvent, an issue that took down clubs like Chievo and Atalanta.
With only 10 clubs on the table, the league couldn't simply crown a champion after 18 rounds of play (the traditional format where clubs play each other twice), so they had to get a bit creative to keep fans coming back week in week out. Rather than handing over the Scudetto after 18 rounds of play, the league decided to institute separate Scudetto and relegation playoffs, where the top five teams face each other twice to determine the title; basically, four six-pointers to decide the champion.
And, as luck would have it, the first year in which this new playoff system took effect coincided with the first time Roma sat atop the league table. After 18 rounds of play, Roma separated themselves from the pack, finishing the regular season with an eight-point lead over their perpetual nemesis, Juventus.
In any other year, we'd be celebrating Roma's first league title. Still, there is something oh so Roma Happened about the new format taking effect the first time the Giallorosse would have won the title under the old rules.
C'est La vie. Alessandro Spugna and the Giallorosse don't have time to dwell on parliamentary procedure. Rather than complaining about the new rules, Roma's first playoff match was a rollicking run over Fiorentina—a club that gave them fits in their first few years in the league—and a reminder to the rest of the league that, while you can change the format, the Giallorosse will still pummel anyone you put in front of them.
Despite that confidence, given the novelty of this playoff system and the fact that Roma kicked things off on the road, there were plenty of reasons to be nervous ahead of yesterday's trip to Firenze. Fortunately for Roma fans, Valentina Giacinti erased all doubt in the 11th minute, sneaking behind the defense and running onto a picture-perfect lob from Giada Greggi to put the capital club up 1-0 early in the match.
Roma would catch a massive break in the 21st minute when Viola keeper Katja Schroffenegger failed to settle a back pass from the defense, essentially paving the way for Manuela Giugliano to tap the ball over the goal line to double Roma's lead. From there, the rout was well and truly on, as Giacinti scored again in the 28th minute before Carina Wenninger and Benedetta Glionna added the Giallorosse's fourth and fifth goals, respectively.
It was a rousing victory for Roma, one that should give them some positive vibes as they prepare to face Barcelona in the Champions League before returning to the Scudetto playoffs against Milan on April 1st.
If you missed any of the action, please enjoy the match highlights.