After their dramatic run to the quarterfinals of the 2019 World Cup in France, Milena Bertolini's Italy squad suddenly found themselves facing an entirely new opponent: the weight of expectations. While they're not yet in league with more established sides like the Netherlands, Sweden, or France, Italy has handled that pressure remarkably well, finishing second to the Netherlands in their Euro 2022 qualification group after earning 25 of 30 possible points.
Thanks to those efforts, Italy has climbed to 14th in the FIFA world rankings, joining Belgium, Iceland, and France in what is sure to be one of Euro 2022's tougher groups. And much of that success has been fueled by the women of Rome, who have seen their numbers in the Italy camp swell over the past two years.
During the Euro 2022 qualification campaign, players like Elisa Bartoli, Elena Linari, and Manuela Giguliano were ever-present, making nearly 30 combined appearances while adding seven goals to the Azzurre cause. With up and comers Annamaria Serturini, Giada Greggi, Benedetta Glionna, Lucia Di Guglielmo, and Angelica Soffia joining the ranks, Italy might as well have traded their traditional blue and white for the red and yellow of Rome; a trend that is set to continue later this month.
Earlier today, Italy unveiled their 24-woman squad for the next batch of World Cup 2023 qualifiers kicking off across the continent next weekend. And, as you may have guessed, the roster is teeming with Roma players:
#Nazionale— Nazionale Femminile di Calcio (@AzzurreFIGC) November 17, 2021
Le 2⃣4⃣ #Azzurre convocate dalla Ct #Bertolini per le sfide di qualificazione mondiale contro #Svizzera e #Romania❗️
I dettagli https://t.co/dpVaLW8CKi#VivoAzzurro #FIFAWWC pic.twitter.com/NiTke3GAUh
Joining veterans Bartoli, Linari and Giugliano are full-backs Lucia Di Guglielmo and Angelica Soffia, midfielder Giada Greggi and forwards Benedetta Glionna, Annmaria Serturini and Valeria Pirone. With nine players called up, only the three-time reigning Serie A Femminile champions Juventus (10) are better represented than Roma.
While the women aren't quite as far along in their World Cup qualification program as the men, the Azzurre have fared much better than their male counterparts (who now have to survive the playoff rounds in March to secure a spot at Qatar 2022). Through their first four qualification matches, Italy has maintained a perfect 4-0 record while playing to a +16 goal differential. And somehow, incredibly, the Swiss have matched them step-for-step, playing to an identical win-loss record and goal differential.
So you won't want to miss a second of the action when Italy hosts Switzerland in Palermo on the 26th before shifting focus to Romania on the 30th.