Aside from the Champions League Round of 32 matchup against Barcelona, the fixture list for the Juventus women hasn’t exactly been the most challenging. But, knowing what the team was about to face coming out of the November international break — one that kept Juve’s large Italian contingent very busy — that was going to change. And in a hurry.
In the first three games coming out of the international break, Juventus Women had the second-place team (AC Milan), the fourth-place team (Roma) and the third-place team (Fiorentina) all stacked up one after another.
The first of those games, last weekend’s 2-2 draw with Milan, meant that the close four-team race at the top of the Serie A Femminile table got even a little bit closer. While the draw against Milan didn’t cost Juventus Women the top spot at the table, the top four teams are separated by all of four points.
That, at least for neutrals, creates quite a fun little title race.
Juventus Women have reached the second game of its three-weekend gauntlet where a lot of positioning for the second half of the 2019-20 season will be determined. Juve will head to Rome to face a Roma side that happens to be the only one of the top four teams to not pick up points last weekend, suffering a disappointing 2-1 loss to Florentia on an absolutely disastrous kind of pitch in San Germano.
Essentially, both Juve and Roma are looking to get back on the winning foot after tough results the weekend before. That should equate to a rather interesting game in Rome, don’t you think?
Keeping in tradition of bugging our friends over at Chiesa Di Totti, we decided to do a little educating on the giallorosse side of this budding Serie A Femminile rivalry.
Away we go!
BWRAO: Hello again, Mr. Bren. Thank you for joining us while you the final days of the men’s international break. But here, we’re to talk about the ladies, two of the best teams Italy have to offer who play each other this weekend. Roma was arguably the most active on the transfer market, how have the summer signings worked out so far?
CDT: Well, I can see that your next question points to our biggest signing, but I can argue she hasn’t been the most impactful so far. That honor falls to Andrine Hegerberg. Yes, she’s the sister of one of the best players on the planet, but Andy (as she’s sometimes called) has transformed Roma’s midfield and is establishing herself as one of the best all-around players in the league.
She wins 50-50s, she switches play, she gets stuck into tackles, she plays a hell of a long ball and she makes incisive late runs into the box. She’s everything you want in an all-action midfielder and so much more, plus she’s been a Roma fan since she was a kid. She’d be easy to love on that alone, but she is the glue to Roma’s midfield and easily the summer signing who has had the greatest and most consistent impact so far.
BWRAO: One of those big signings just so happened to be Italy’s revelation of the Women’s World Cup, midfielder Manuela Giugliano. As much as I’d love to see her in Juve’s midfield with the likes of Valentina Cernoia and Aurora Galli like we saw this past summer, how has she adapted to life in Rome thus far?
CDT: Well, when they landed her I proclaimed her as the organization’s biggest signing since Batistuta, simply because, in addition to her prodigious talent, she was exactly what Roma needed. She took a match or two to settle in, but her quality is starting to burst through.
She is a No. 10 in every sense of the word. She has incredible close-control, she can just as easily make that final killer pass as she can rip apart a defense with a 30-yard long ball. She’s quick, she’s intuitive, she’s creative, she’s deadly from the spot and she’s even shown an ability to score from distance.
She’s the future of Roma, the Azzurre and potentially even the league. She is that good and that transformative.
BWRAO: What do Roma have to do to truly become a potential Scudetto winner?
CDT: It’s pretty simple: they have to stay focused. At this point, the only real difference between Roma and Juventus is that Roma have slipped up where Juve haven’t. Last week was a perfect example. Sure, Florentia’s pitch was ghastly and the ref was inconsistent, but they were too lax in the first half, and as a result, they dug themselves a 2-0 hole. They played with a sense of urgency and vengeance in the second half, pulling it back to 2-1 and missing a few equalizers, but it was simply too late.
Thus far, Milan and Juve have, for the most part, beat everyone they’re supposed to beat. Roma hasn’t done that, and it’s those little points that will keep them from winning it all.
Beyond that — and it’s probably a related point — Roma are lacking a bit of experience. They have Elisa Bartoli and Giugliano, who are both starters for Italy, but so many of their best and most dangerous players are all U23s, which gives us hope for the future but could contribute to their inconsistency.
BWRAO: Do you think that ability to compete for a Scudetto can be this season?
CDT: Well, looking at the table, we can assume Milan and Fiorentina will win this weekend, and if Roma can defeat Juventus, the table 1 through 4 would look like this:
- Milan 17
- Fiorentina 16
- Juve 16
- Roma 15
That’s the kind of parity we could only dream of on the men’s side. Roma have managed all this without getting anything from their big Brazilian signing Andressa, who was shortlisted on the FIFPRO XI, so we haven’t seen their best form yet.
So, it really goes back to our last question. If Roma can take care of business against the rest of the league, the title comes down to which of those four teams takes the most points off the other three. And so far, we’ve beaten Fiorentina and lost to Milan.
This league will come down to the wire, I can guarantee it. And, yes, I think Roma has what it takes to be in that conversation come Round 22.
BWRAO: Who has been Roma’s best player so far this season?
Well, I sort of pointed to the three stalwarts already: Giugliano, Hegerberg, and Bartoli, so I’ll shine a light on Annamaria Serturini, Roma’s leading scorer from last season. She was good for 11 goals in 22 appearances last season, which, in part, propelled her to making Italy’s World Cup squad as (I believe) its youngest member.
She’s short, but she’s quick, she loves to cut in and she has a whale of a shot. Whether she starts or comes off the bench, she’s the type of player who immediately commands your attention. She’s only managed 2 goals so far, but that’s more a product of squad rotation than anything else, but the safe money says she’ll be Roma’s leading scorer at the end of the season. She just has that knack.
BWRAO: You asked me this, so I’ll ask you the same thing: What’s your prediction for this weekend?
CDT: Well, I’m not going to hedge any bets here. This one is at home, Roma are a bit better rested than Juve and should be plenty pissed off after losing to Florentia, so I think Roma win a wild one, 3-2.