Back from the break, Roma look to tighten their grip on the Champions League place against Fiorentina
When we last saw Elisa Bartoli and the Giallorosse in early April, they were putting the finishing touches to a 7-1 shellacking of bottom-placed Hellas Verona, extending their unbeaten run in Serie A to a stunning 13 matches. Led by recent addition Milica Mijatović, who netted a brace in only her fourth appearance for the club, Roma made quick work of the Mastiffs, racing to a 4-0 lead before the hour mark.
Admittedly, Hellas Verona was not very threatening, but Alessandro Spugna’s crew were quick to show their guests the door. Despite the lopsided scoreline, Roma were unable to make hay on the table as Juventus (five points up) handled their affairs against Sampdoria in a 3-1 win. And with third-placed AC Milan beating Empoli 3-0 on the road, the top of the Serie A Women’s table remained unchanged. With three games remaining, Roma have a slim chance of chasing Juventus for the Scudetto, but the real (and more accessible) prize, the Champions League, remains alive and well.
While Roma can technically conquer second and last place Italy in the CL on Saturday with a win and a loss in Milan, the Rossonere are unlikely to lose at home to seventh place Pomigliano, so we may have to delay our celebrations for a week. However, before popping any bottles, let’s take a quick look back at Roma’s last game against Fiorentina.
November 13, 2021: Roma 1, Fiorentina 0
While Fiorentina and Roma aren’t exactly the main rivals, for most of Giallorosse’s four years in the league the Viola have been a thorn in Roma’s side, playing the capital club in a series nail biters. In nine previous encounters, Roma have struggled to stay ahead of their purple-clad opponents, playing Fiorentina with a 3-4-2 record (WDL) while sporting a goal differential of +1.
And the last time was no exception to this rule. After becoming frustrated with Viola’s defence, Roma turned to their all-time leading scorer for help, and as they have done so often over the past four years, Annamaria Serturini stepped in , earning a game-winning match in the 52nd minute.
Roma and Fiorentina have been neck and neck for most of the past four years, but have gone on diverging paths this season. Thanks in large part to their 13-match unbeaten streak, Roma climbed to second place while their Florence counterparts stumbled in the table and are currently just three points clear of the drop zone. .
With so much at stake for both sides, we should expect your typical Roma-Fiorentina grudge game, so let’s take a look at some of the main storylines from Saturday’s game.
The three-headed monster of Fiorentina
Photo by Jonathan Moscrop/Getty Images
Despite their low place on the table, Fiorentina are not lacking in firepower, particularly up top where they sport three of the league’s top ten scorers: Daniela Sabatino (11 goals, tied for 1st), Karin Lundin ( eight goals, tied for third), and Valentina Giacinti (eight goals, tied third), although seven of them came with Milan. Although they rarely share the pitch together, any club that can boast three bona fide goal scorers like that commands immediate respect.
Luckily for us, Roma’s defense is among the best in the league, ranking third in goals conceded and second in goal differential. As intimidating as this trio is, have you met Elena Linari?
It won’t be easy, but Linari has transformed the Roma defense (and the whole club, if we’re being honest) since her arrival last season and should have no trouble battling with her Azzurre teammates.
Annamaria Serturini’s Viola Vendetta
Granted, it’s not a vendetta in the strict sense of the word, but Serturini has victimized the Alto more than any other opponent in the past three seasons. With four goals since the start of the 2019-2020 season, Serturini has enjoyed beating the Viola. In fact, Serturini has played a part in four of Roma’s last five goals against Fiorentina, including three goals and one assist. She didn’t repeat the highs of her 11-goal campaign in 2018-19, but you’d be hard pressed to find a player in this league with a quicker first step and quicker release than Serturini, and if that game goes finish at a possession, give it to Annamaria and enjoy the show!
But if she misses the mark, look for the Spaniard to take over…
Can Lázaro keep riding?
We’ve been tough on Paloma Lázaro over the past year. Undeniably talented, Lázaro arrived from Fiorentina before last season, and although she doubled her alto output immediately after signing for Roma (four goals to eight), she racked up the misses in almost equal measure. . In many ways, his career at Giallorosse mirrored that of Edin Dzeko on the men’s side of the aisle. Both players scored a respectable number of goals, but one couldn’t help but wonder how many After they could have scored if they had been a bit more clinical.
Despite his intermittent lack of efficiency up top, Lázaro is perhaps the most classic striker in the brief history of the club. Blessed with size, technique and strength, Lázaro can display in the area, giving Spugna’s attack a point of reference and a springboard for any number of offensive combinations on the verge of 18. And although Although not the fastest striker in the league, she has no problem keeping up with Roma’s more pious playmakers like Andressa, Manuela Giugliano and Emilie Haavi.
Simply put, she’s a threat almost anywhere on the pitch. And this season, Roma’s 28-year-old Spanish striker has taken her game to a new level, scoring eight goals in 18 appearances.
The addition of another striker tomorrow will set a new career high for Lázaro, who is currently tied for third in the league alongside Lundin, Giacinti and Sofia Cantore of Sassuolo. As impressive as Fiorentina’s three-headed monster might be, Lázaro and Serturini should give Viola nightmares of their own on Saturday.
It won’t be easy (it’s never against Fiorentina), but a win tomorrow should pave the way for Roma’s first-ever Champions League appearance.