In all my time manning the ship here, I've often thought about what I'd say if Roma ever won the Scudetto. Of course, given that I've been doing this for nearly 12 years, Roma didn't have a women's club for most of my tenure here, so I long assumed (or hoped) that I'd pen a fitting coda to Francesco Totti's career, scrambling to collect my thoughts as the man who means everything to Roma ended his career on a high note by winning his second league title before walking off into the sunset.
That never happened, and while it wasn't Er Purpone, a local kid and club captain still made history yesterday. Elisa Bartoli, born in the same streets as Totti, Daniele De Rossi, and many other Roma legends before her, has captained the club since its inception in 2018. And yesterday afternoon, she wrote her own storybook ending, scoring a dramatic match-winning goal in Roma's 2-1 victory over Fiorentina—a win that delivered the first league title in the club's brief five-year existence.
As Bartoli and the Giallorosse stepped onto the sunlit field at Stadio Tre Fontane in southern Rome, they carried the momentum from their recent 3-2 win against their rivals Juventus. That victory, their first over Juve in league play, pushed their lead at the top of the table to a commanding 11 points, a gap likely too great for Juventus to close with only four matches remaining.
Roma hadn't won the title yet, but the Scudetto was theirs for all intents and purposes. However, as Alessandro Spugna pointed out in his pre-match interview with Roma TV, Fiorentina weren't coming to town to celebrate Roma's accomplishments; they wanted to win as badly as the Giallorosse.
Facing an opponent with nothing to lose and one presumably hell-bent on delaying Roma's celebrations by a week, the Giallorosse had their work cut out for them yesterday. And while they weren't as sharp as usual, with Valentina Giacinti leading the line and the likes of Andressa Alves, Annamaria Serturini, and Emilie Haavi at her back, the odds remained in Roma's favor.
With the capital club controlling possession early in the match, it felt like only a matter of time before Roma drew first blood, doubly so when Serturini flashed a low cross into the middle of the box toward a streaking Andressa. However, what seemed like a gimme goal was quickly interrupted by Fiorentina keeper Rachele Baldi, who made the first of several aggressive saves on the evening.
Undaunted, Roma pressed on, with Andressa, Giugliano, and Greggi toying with the Viola defense to their heart's content. Baldi, a former Roma player, made another critical intervention when she lapped up a deep effort from Greggi in the 8th minute.
Roma's persistence would soon pay off, though. With Fiorentina struggling to build from the back, an effort made harder by the combined pressing of Andressa and Giacinti, who had all of Baldi's outlets covered, the former Roma keeper soon made a dreadful error, passing the ball directly to Greggi, who intercepted the pass, and in one fell swoop, gently deposited it into the back of the net.
Greggi, a Roma lifer like Bartoli, could hardly contain her excitement as she celebrated her goal, racing toward the sideline with her arms stretched out wide, grinning from ear to ear. The entire sequence was so unexpected that the camera crew barely captured Greggi's once-in-a-lifetime goal.
Sensing blood on the ground, Roma, like the wolves they are, spent the remainder of the first half hunting for a second, and likely conclusive, goal. However, despite pummeling Baldi with shot after shot, the Giallorosse couldn't find a breakthrough but came excruciatingly close late in the first half when Giacinti rose to meet another Serturini cross. While Giacinti's header had the power and precision necessary to score a goal, Baldi read it perfectly, making for an easy save.
Still, with a one-goal lead and a sold-out Tre Fontane cheering them on, Roma's lead, slim though it was, felt safe... until disaster struck in the 53rd minute. With Roma mounting yet another attack in the Viola defensive third, the visitors from Firenze caught a lucky break.
After deflecting an awkward shot from Serturini, Fiorentina quickly sought to move the ball up the pitch, potentially catching Roma out of position. While Roma's forward players did well to chase down the loose, looping ball, fate intervened as Fiorentina managed two incredible back-heeled flicks to maintain possession, including one from former Roma academy player Emma Severini.
As the ball was bounding through the air, Fiorentina midfielder Milica Mijatovic (who had a cup of coffee with Roma last season) slowly drifted toward the midfield line and made her break after Michela Catena's back heel sprung her free. From there, it was smooth sailing for Mijatovic, who pulled Roma keeper Camelia Ceasar off her line before chipping the ball past her from nearly 40 yards out. Thanks to the high-arching loose ball and those two incredible one-touch passes, Roma's defense was stretched thin, paving the way for another former Roma player to inflict pain on her former employer.
While this goal shook Roma, it wouldn't take long for the home side to reclaim the lead and the Scudetto in the process. With the Giallorosse controlling possession deep in the final third, Manuela Giugliano drove the ball down the right channel, steps away from the end line, before squaring the ball to Bartoli in the middle of the box.
Although Giugliano's pass was slightly deflected, Bartoli corrected her course and narrowly beat the defender to the ball. With her outstretched left foot, she gave the ball just enough arch to sail over the head of Stephanie Breiner, the last Fiorentina defender, with a clean look at the ball.
With a one-goal lead and approximately 20 minutes to play, Roma continued to press the issue, searching for a third and definitive goal. That goal never came, but once Fiorentina full-back Kaja Erzen, yet another former Roma player on the Viola roster, was sent off with her second yellow card, the match was all but over.
There were a few nervy moments down the stretch, as the clock crept toward the 95th minute before the final whistle blew, but in the end, Roma got their Hollywood ending, winning the first title in club history thanks to a pair of goals from two local kids, Giada Greggi and Elisa Bartoli.
Nothing I can say will communicate what this victory means more than the look on Greggi's face here. The tears of joy streaming down her face are worth more than any words I can conjure, but if you ever needed proof of Francesco Totti's famous claim that one title in Rome is worth ten anywhere else, look no further.
Enjoy it, Roma fans. Thanks to the masterful work of Betty Bavagnoli and Alessandro Spugna, the Giallorosse are Queens of Italy and won't relinquish their throne any time soon.
If you missed any of the action, please enjoy the match highlights.