AS Roma Women have now entered what is undoubtedly the biggest week in the club’s history so far. They are playing in a quarter-final of the UEFA Women’s Champions League, a place they have never been before.
Chuck into the mix the fact they are playing the formidable Barcelona and will be doing so inside the Stadio Olimpico in front of an estimated almost 40,000 people, and you can understand why the pressure could potentially be a bit much to take for Alessandro Spugna’s side.
Against Fiorentina in the first game of Serie A Femminile’s new Scudetto Pool, there was no sign that the Giallorosse are letting the occasion get to them.
AS Roma’s perfect Barcelona preparation
We are now into the swing of things in the Scudetto Pool and Survival Pool of Serie A Femminile and Roma know that they just need to not drop eight points to Juventus over the next eight matches.
Their first game of this phase came away at Fiorentina and as will be the case for every match until the end of the season, that is not easy. A lot of Roma’s recent victories have come with narrow margins and given they have never won the Scudetto before, there is no guarantee that they have the mental steel to see this situation through in the way that Juventus have done so often before.
Since the 5-0 win at home to Sassuolo on January 29, four of Roma’s six victories across the league and the Coppa Italia have been by a one-goal margin, and the other two wins were by a two-goal margin. The standard is so high now with Roma that something like that can be construed as a sign of weakness, even though they are winning the games.
As it turns out though, Roma may well have been keeping something in the tank. They kicked off the Scudetto Pool with a commanding and enthralling 5-1 victory over a very good Fiorentina team. They were 4-0 up shortly after the second half kicked off, enjoying two goals from Valentina Giacinti, one from Manuela Giugliano and a first Roma goal for Carina Wenninger.
Alexandra Johansdottir got one back for Fiorentina but Benedetta Glionna completed the scoring later on. Fiorentina did go down to 10 players but not until the 85th minute when Roma had already blown their opponent away.
Next stop, the Stadio Olimpico
It was extremely impressive for Roma to put in a performance like that considering on Tuesday night, they will be facing former UWCL winners and seven-time Primera Division winners, Barcelona. They are one of the favourites to win the tournament and there is no getting away from the fact that it would be a minor miracle if Roma made it to the semi-finals.
That doesn’t matter though. What matters is that Roma are breaking new ground as a club just for getting out of the group, at the very first attempt no less. What also matters is that they will be playing at the Stadio Olimpico, the home of Roma’s and Lazio’s men’s teams.
By Saturday, March 18, over 35,000 tickets had been sold for the game and it seems likely there will be over 40,000 inside the Olimpico to cheer on the women’s team. That is absolutely incredible considering the stature of women’s football in Italy when compared to Spain, England, or Germany.
Important wins for Juventus and Sassuolo
Juventus kept the gap between themselves and Roma at eight points thanks to a fairly simple 2-0 win at home to Christy Grimshaw’s AC Milan, further strengthening their grip on the second UWCL place in the table.
The two games in the Survival Pool saw Sassuolo distance themselves further from relegation with a 3-0 win over Sampdoria in which Lana Clelland scored a superb goal, whilst Pomigliano did the same by beating Parma 4-1 down in Naples. Whilst there are still a fair few games to play, it increasingly looks like the relegation fight is between Parma, Como and Sampdoria.
Serie A Femminile Play-off Matchday 1 results
|Date||Serie A Femminile Results|
|Fri, Mar 17||Fiorentina 1-5 AS Roma|
|Sat, Mar 18||Sassuolo 3-0 Sampdoria|
|Sat, Mar 18||Juventus 2-0 AC Milan|
|Sun, Mar 19||Pomigliano 4-1 Parma|
Serie A Femminile table after Play-off Matchday 1