STADIO TRE FONTANE (Rome): Nobody knows better than Juventus Women that finals aren’t for playing – they’re for winning. And that tends to be what they do. They were outplayed by AS Roma in last season’s Coppa Italia Femminile but lifted the trophy that day in Ferrara. In the Supercoppa Femminile in November, they were probably the better team and lost.
Losing isn’t something Juventus are all that familiar with, but for much of the Serie A Femminile season so far it has looked as though they will ultimately lose this title race, so much so that Sunday’s game in the capital felt like something of a final. Juventus persevere; they don’t know how or when to accept defeat. But it’s Roma who lead the way for the winter break. They’ve lost twice – they’ve lost twice to Juventus.
Annamaria Serturini put Roma up inside two minutes at the Tre Fontane on Sunday, and all of a sudden it looked as though their six-point lead at the top might just be extended to nine. They’ve been so good in the first part of this season that it’d be hard to argue that they didn’t deserve it. But, Juventus don’t lie down for anybody. Valentina Giacinti put the Giallorosse ahead in the Supercoppa but Juventus came back. Andressa Alves had them in front in the Coppa Italia but Juventus came back.
So Juventus did what they do. They came back. Lineth Beerensteyn levelled and Cristiana Girelli, who has had questions asked of her this term, channelled her 2021/22 self to turn in a Julia Grosso effort. Juventus led at the break and the all-too-familiar normality looked like it had returned.
Reversing a trend
It had become a bit of a trend in games between these two that the better side tends to lose, but Juventus were out to dispel that in the capital. They were good from the off, and even though they trailed so early they had started the better of the two sides.
Roma came out flying for the second. Alessandro Spugna had clearly had some strong words at the break and Andressa levelled shortly after.
More brilliance from Beerensteyn restored Juventus’ lead though and the ever-improving Grosso grabbed her second goal for the Bianconere – and second in just a matter of weeks – to seal the points.
To the wire
Serie A Femminile now pauses for the Christmas break with a serious title race to look forward to in the new year. Roma are on 30 points, Juventus 27, and Fiorentina not far behind on 25. It’s clear that the two sides who met on Sunday are heavyweights in Italian football, and they’re likely to trade blows until the season wraps up.
Just as Roma struck before Juventus in both halves at the Tre Fontane on Sunday, it was Spugna’s side who landed the earliest blows in the title race as a whole. They’ve been leading for a while, and that their only two defeats have come to Juventus will give them a reason to keep checking over their shoulder when things resume in January.
Juventus as chasers is something we’ve not seen before though, but with a three-point gap at the top and Joe Montemurro’s side likely having come through their worst spell of the season, it’s already looking difficult to back against them.
When the league splits in two to decide the title and relegation, only the best will play the best. Roma have proven better than Juventus at swatting aside the so-called lesser sides this season, but a title race as leaders is uncharted waters for them. Juventus, meanwhile, have seen it all and done it all.
When the league splits into its final stage, it will be hard to look beyond Juventus. They know more than anybody, after all, that finals are for winning.