January 27, 2023

Welcome to Moving the Goalposts, The Guardian’s free women’s football newsletter. Here’s an excerpt from this week’s edition. To receive the full version once a week, just enter your email below:

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“Un Pari Che Sa Di Gloria” was the headline of il Romanista two weeks ago: “A draw that has the taste of glory”. Champions League debutant Roma had just held Wolfsburg, one of the European greats, to a draw at home. It was a result that firmly impeded progression to the knockout stages Giallorose‘s grip, sending a signal around the continent that there’s very much a new kid in town.

Since acquiring the Serie A license from Res Roma in 2018, Roma have made solid progress. Last season – Alessandro Spugna’s first in charge – they finished second and qualified for Europe for the first time. The ambition to belong to the European elite is clear and their form has supported it. Undefeated in 15, they have jumped to the top of Serie A, leading Juventus by a comfortable six-point margin. They won the Coppa Italia in 2021 and the Supercoppa Italia followed last month.

“We are a very ambitious club and we want to try to win as many titles as possible,” Spugna told Moving the Goalposts. “We know that to do this we have to improve. We have already managed to get one trophy this season, the Super Cup, which we attached great importance to. We are doing very well in the Italian league … as for the Champions League, this is a dream. We want to keep dreaming. It is very difficult, but it allows you to get better because you have to measure yourself against very big teams.”

Much of its success is due to the acquired personnel. The Giallorose are an eclectic mix, mixing some of Italy’s best with stars from abroad. Striker Valentina Giacinti came over from Milan in the summer and has already made an impression. Rome has been home to Brazilian centurion Andressa since 2019, while veteran Austrian defender Carina Wenninger joined on loan in the summer.

“Great work has been done since this club was founded,” says Spugna. “Every year we have added pieces. This is a club made up of ambitious people with a great will to improve.”

“The level has risen in Italy thanks to the arrival of professional women’s teams. In the last two years, big international players have entered the Italian league and we are one of the clubs that have invested heavily in important players. The league continues to grow, but to get to the level of Lyon, Wolfsburg, Barcelona, ​​​​Chelsea, … will of course take a while because they are ahead of us. We are trying to bridge this gap and I think we are on the right track.”

Valentina Giacinti celebrates after Roma's opening goal in their 1-1 draw against Wolfsburg.
Valentina Giacinti celebrates after Roma’s opening goal in their 1-1 draw against Wolfsburg. Photo: AS Roma/Getty Images

As the women’s game continues to evolve, a historic club like Roma with a remarkable women’s squad is essential. They are a team that likes to play in the front, but their manager is pragmatic about his side’s approach: “I like a team that dominates teams,” he says. “Domestically, we manage to do this because we have a lot of quality … that’s what we try to do in the Champions League. But at this level, which is much higher, that is of course not always possible and sometimes you have to defend. “

They are undefeated in Europe this season, winning five of their seven games. The highlight was that confidence-inspiring draw with Wolfsburg, which they will meet again on Thursday evening. “It meant a lot to us,” Spugna recalls. “Not only because of the final score, but also because of the performance. We were brave on the field. We not only defended the result, but we tried to win the game.”

The pride Spugna feels is obvious. However, he is not one to rest on his laurels with a clear focus on taking Roma to the next level. “I came to this great club and city and fulfilled a dream,” he says. “But now that I’m here, I’m very happy and very proud. I’m glad we’re doing a good job, that’s the most important thing. You have to keep doing this because in football you have to forget what you did yesterday and you have to focus on the future.”

Discussion points

Everything changes in Canada Legends of the game Christine Sinclair and Diane Matheson have announced the creation of a first professional national league in Canada. Project 8, co-founded by Matheson along with Thomas Gilbert, plans to launch the inaugural campaign in 2025. It will consist of eight teams spread across the country. Vancouver Whitecaps FC and Calgary Foothills Soccer Club are the first two founders.

Frappart’s debut History was made last week when France’s Stéphanie Frappart became the first woman to referee a men’s World Cup. She was the official at the center of the action as Germany took on Costa Rica in the group stage. Her two assistants, Neuza Back and Karen Diaz Medina, joined her to form the first all-female trio in charge, a major step forward in the field.

Stéphanie Frappart steps in when Costa Rica defender Kendall Waston argues with German midfielder Kai Havertz.
Stéphanie Frappart steps in when Costa Rica defender Kendall Waston argues with German midfielder Kai Havertz. Photo: Franck Fife/AFP/Getty Images

All eyes on Manchester There was a new attendance record for Manchester United on Saturday. More than 30,000 supporters flocked to Old Trafford to enjoy their side’s stunning victory over Aston Villa. All eyes will be on Manchester again next weekend. More than 40,000 tickets have been sold for the highly anticipated Manchester derby at the Etihad. With both sides in good form and a title chase, could it be an important game for the WSL leadership?

The Theater of Dreams has seen many a special goal in its time. Another was added to the list on Saturday as Ona Batlle brought the flair to Old Trafford in Manchester United’s 5-0 win. Her thunderous effort went in over the crossbar from close range, leaving Hannah Hampton without a chance in the Aston Villa goal.

Quote of the week

“One thing is clear, you have to have some time off in football. That’s important for any job, even if you love your job and it’s your passion and it’s what you want to do… recognize that” – Arsenal’s Jonas Eideval about the importance of giving his players time off.

Have a question for our writers – or want to suggest a topic to cover? Get in touch by emailing moving.goalposts@theguardian.com.

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