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Rival Q&A: Talking Juventus-Roma ahead of the Coppa Italia Femminile final

With one last Juventus Women game remaining, we get a little bit of insight into the opposition.

Juventus v AS Roma - Women Serie A Photo by Claudio Benedetto/LiveMedia/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Juventus Women has had their Scudetto celebrations. They’ve wrapped up another Serie A Femminile season in victorious fashion and have either made plans for what to do after summer international duty or come the first days of June. But before that, there’s still one more game to be played a trophy to try and lift.

In the final game before we see a lot of Juve’s most known players the Euros this summer in England, the Bianconere will face Roma — Serie A’s second-place team this season — in the Coppa Italia Femminile final the Stadio Paolo Mazza in Ferrara. It’s a chance for Joe Montemurro to finish his first season at Juve with a clean sweep of the three domestic trophies, and for Juventus Women to get a little revenge on Roma after being ousted from the Coppa Italia in the semifinals last season.

Because this is one last chance to preview a match before the summer arrives, we figured we’d call in the big guns. Or, in this case, a friend of the blog, Chiesa Di Totti head honcho Bren, a fella who has stopped by both this writing space and the podcast a handful of times in the past.

Roma, which beat Milan in last season’s Coppa Italia final, have had arguably their best season in securing European football for the first time and are looking to win another trophy in the season’s final match. You can probably guess that’s where we started the talk with Bren, who was able to take some time away from his Jose Mourinho shrine to chat with us. (Just kidding!)

Away we go ...

BWRAO: The obvious first question is very obvious: What was Roma able to do this season and finally get over that hump and finish second behind Juventus to ensure there’s European football next season? What allowed Roma to go from a fifth-place finish a season ago to now jumping into second a year later?

CDT: Well, I think they found a coach whose tactics and philosophies were perfectly in line with the players the club already had. The transition from Betty Bavagnoli to Alessandro Spugna was about as seamless as you’ll ever see, and thanks to his aggressive tactics, the club led the league in scoring this season. Apart from that, they made some really shrewd signings this summer and in the winter, players like Benedetta Glionna, Emilie Haavi, Valeria Pirone, and Sophie Roman Haug all hit the ground running and became major contributors straight away. Sprinkle in players like Manuela Giugliano and Elena Linari, the club’s two most talented players, having career years and Roma were always likely to improve on last year’s performance. Broadly speaking, they’ve been taking incremental steps every year since they joined the league in 2018, so I think what we’re seeing is the culmination of that plan.

BWRAO: Statistically speaking, Manuela Giugliano just had the best season of her still very young career. Do the numbers provide proper context? And if so, how good has she been this season as the creative force in Roma’s midfield?

CDT: Yes and no. She is undoubtedly our best player and I’d argue that pound for pound, she’s the most talented player in the entire AS Roma organization. But she’s not the type of player where stats tell the entire story, mostly because her calling card, playmaking, is so dependent on where she plays. In other words, if she’s in a more advanced position, she’ll chalk up more assists like she did this year, but we all remember how instrumental she was in World Cup 2019 when she was playing a deeper, Pirlo-type role; she didn’t rack up the stats in that role, but she was no less instrumental. She can really do it all and we’re seeing her finally bring together all these disparate parts of her game into one fully functional machine—she’s world-class, simple as that.

BWRAO: You asked me about Agnese Bonfantini, so I will ask you about the other end of the swap deal that wasn’t technically a swap deal. How has Benny Glionna’s season been and have you come to love her as much as I do?

CDT: Yeah, you have to love these non-trade trades. Hopefully, we can put that nonsense behind us now that the league is finally going professional. We all loved Bonfantini at CdT, but I still can’t believe they were able to pull off this deal. Glionna can do everything Bonfantini can do ... and more. She didn’t score quite as much as last season (10 vs. 5), but that was to be expected: she was the No. 1 option at Empoli and that was never likely to be the case in Rome, not with forwards like Paloma Lázaro and Pirone on the squad. But she’s an incredibly dynamic player and as her stature grows on the team, I wouldn’t be shocked if she consistently becomes a double-digit scorer capable of adding a half-dozen assists each season. The sky is the limit for her and I think she’s going to be an integral piece for club and country for the foreseeable future.

BWRAO: Out of all the players to play over 1,000 minutes for Roma in Serie A this season, only one of them is actually 30 years old or over. How has this relatively young team been able to get the job done as the league has gotten better overall?

CDT: That’s an excellent question and I think there is one simple answer: they’ve been allowed to play, struggle, and ultimately succeed. Players like Giada Greggi, Angelica Soffia, Tecla Pettenuzzo, and Annamaria Serturini have been given every chance to play without fear of reprisal if they make a mistake or if the club struggles as a whole. So what we’ve seen this season is simply a byproduct of that approach. Part of that likely stems from Roma essentially being an expansion team and playing with relatively low-stakes, but all those growing pains have helped shape and mold what is now a title-contending squad. And they’re all really experienced players despite being so young, so Roma has been their finishing school, so to speak.

BWRAO: Back at the beginning of the season, there was nobody your blog thought higher of than Annamaria Serturini. How has she been able to live up to the fabled Chiesa Di Totti hype and delivered again this year?

CDT: Well, her goal-scoring numbers have fluctuated over the past few years (11 to 4 to 9 to 6), but I think that’s more a function of the club getting better forwards over the past two years or so (fewer shots to go around and all that). She’s one of the quickest and most athletic players in the league and is a constant threat anytime she approaches the 18-yard-box. She’s the most productive player in the club’s brief history and she really is the ideal complement to a forward like Lázaro, where her speed and agility play well with Lázaro’s more physical play in the box. She’ll have to be a more consistent goal-scoring threat to become a genuine star in the league, but she’s only 24, so she has every chance to become a consistent 10-goal threat each season.

BWRAO: What’s your prediction for the match and why will the winner be Juventus Women?

CDT: I think Roma are going back to back. That mental block that seemingly always tripped them up against Juve is gone and were it not for an own goal in our last meeting, Roma and Juve would have been fighting tooth and nail for the Scudetto. With that in mind, I’ll say Roma 2, Juve 1.