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Keys to Victory: Running riot in the cup

Roma Women are through to the semi-finals of the Coppa Italia for the third consecutive season after comfortably dispatching Florentia over two legs.

Roma did most of the hard work in the first leg away from home on the last day of January, when Paloma Lazaro scored a brace before Annamaria Serturini and Andressa Alves got in on the act to seal a 4-0 win.

In the return leg on February 14th, Roma did not just protect their lead, but increased it emphatically. Andressa scored again via the penalty spot, before a brace from Agnese Bonfantini and further goals from Lindsey Thomas, Serturini and Emma Severini.

Considering that Florentia are normally a decent side, to win 10-1 on aggregate was a big statement from Roma – who have booked a last-four tie with Juventus as a result.

Here was how the game was won over the two legs.

 

Key Players

Across both legs of the quarter-final, the fluidity between Roma’s attackers made the difference.

As the players advanced up the pitch, they created several opportunities, finding the right balance between selflessness and ruthlessness. Almost telepathically, they knew when to pass to their teammates or to have a go themselves.

For example, in the first leg, Serturini was pivotal to the danger Roma created. She set up Lazaro for the opening goal and Andressa for the third, while scoring herself in between.

She was the inspiration behind Roma building up such a comfortable lead early in the tie, and the perfect example of how the attackers were on the same wavelength throughout.

Andressa herself was also particularly important in this regard, sending in the corner that led to Lazaro’s second goal and producing the composed finish for the final goal of the first leg.

Likewise, the Brazilian took on a similar role in the return fixture. Deployed as a central attacking midfielder with licence to drift towards either channel, she scored the opener from the penalty spot, took the shot that led to the rebound from which Thomas scored, and set up Serturini’s goal with an unselfish pass.

In both legs, Andressa was the glue that bound Roma’s attack together.

It brought the best out in those around her. While it was Serturini who stood out in the first leg, many of Roma’s attacks in the second leg came down the opposite flank, with Agnese Bonfantini showing renewed confidence and getting the two goals her performance deserved.

Ultimately, though, it was a team effort, with every individual part of the system pulling their weight.

 

Key Moments

Often in recent weeks, Roma have won games early on.

There were lightning quick starts in each leg against Florentia, with the deadlock in either game broken after just six minutes and three minutes respectively.

The intensity with which Roma have been starting games has been the bedrock of their recent revival in fortunes. Hence, when Lazaro kicked things off in the first leg by finishing after a one-two with Serturini, the Giallorosse knew they could continue their strong start.

They did just that, all but sealing their progression to the next round by the end of the first leg. But to remove any doubt, they struck early again when the teams reconvened at Stadio Tre Fontane.

This time, it was an early penalty that did the trick, with Andressa continuing her rich vein of form with another conversion from 12 yards. She has thus scored in six games in a row, extending her own record for the longest scoring run of any Giallorosse player.

Those early goals in each game allowed Roma to relax further down the line, which in turn saw the attacking unit thrive.

With the weights off their shoulders, Roma’s attack-minded players produced some fine moments of skill to increase the advantage further.

Arguably the best goal of the 10 Roma put past Florentia was the last. Bonfantini dribbled between two defenders before teeing the ball up for Severini, whose first-time shot from the edge of the box rose into the top corner.

But all the goals were satisfying in their own way, whether that be for the technique displayed in examples such as that, or for the joy of the ways they were set up.

 

Key Decisions

Betty Bavagnoli had used the Coppa Italia group stage to give some opportunities to different players, but fielded stronger lineups for the first two games of the knockout stage.

When Roma earned a convincing lead from the first leg, though, the coach was able to bring in some players in need of gametime.

For example, there were starts for Bonfantini and Tecla Pettenuzzo in the second leg. Both players have starred in plenty of games for the club before, but have not enjoyed as much gametime recently due to the form of others.

They both clocked up 90 minutes at Tre Fontane, though, which will have been crucial for their confidence.

Bonfantini in particular benefitted from being involved, as she was the standout player of the second leg with her brace and assist.

She will now be hoping to use that as a platform from which to kick on in the hope of replicating such form again in the league.

 

Key Facts

Both wins against Florentia form part of a longer, six-game winning streak – which is the longest run of consecutive victories in the club’s history.

There were two spells last season in which Roma won five games in a row across all competitions, but the team are in even better form now.

Roma have been winning in style as well. By oozing class in front of goal against Florentia, they scored 10 goals across both legs of a Coppa Italia quarter-final for the second season in a row – having also done so against San Marino last year.

The magnitude of Roma’s scoring prowess passed a significant landmark in the second leg against Florentia, too, when Bonfantini netted the 150th goal in the club’s history.

That match also saw Roma continue their outstanding record at home. Impressively, the Giallorosse have not lost on their own turf since 2019.

They will be hoping to continue that run when they host Empoli in two weeks’ time upon their return to Serie A after an international break. But in the meantime, they can rest and reflect on a job thoroughly well done in the Coppa Italia.

 

Follow Samuel Bannister on Twitter.

 
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