Women's Champions League draw: now Giallorossi can dream
Roma was placed in group B along with Wolfsburg, Slavia Praga and St.Polten. It could have been decidedly worse. The journey will begin on Oct. 20th against Slavia Prague
It could have been decidedly worse. In Nyon was held the draw to determine the composition of the rounds of the Uefa Women's Champions League 2022-23, and Roma confirmed that they continue to have lucky ballots in the tournament. This had already happened in the second preliminary round, in which they drew the physically strong but modest Sparta Prague. The Giallorossi, the only rookies in the competition that made it to the final stage, were placed in Group B along with the german side Wolfsburg, the Czechs Slavia Prague and Austria's Sankt Polten, but they avoided a large number of better-ranked opponents because Roma was placed in the fourth bracket. Aside from the reigning German champions, the other two drawn were on the list of those that many fans and some insiders included among the "preferable to meet" teams in their respective brackets (second Slavia and third St. Polten).
There was an exact moment in the ceremony when the hopes of the Roma fans and the team's consequent ambitions on the European path could take an entirely opposite turn. When former Dutch national team player, Manon Melis, drew the ticket from the urn with Roma's name on it, this was in and of itself a historic and exciting moment. This was due the criteria set by Uefa for the draw. Roma could have put it only in Group A, which already had Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain, and Real Madrid in it; or in Group B. Exactly at 1:19 PM, Uefa women's manager Nadine Kessler, with some trouble opening the ticket, that must not have been good for the Giallorossi's coronaries,("It's just not my day," she said to downplay it), drew a beautiful B, translating a 50-50 into a boost of hope and another very good draw for Roma. It may not have been Kessler's day, but it was, at least Roma's day. Thus, thanks to her hand, it went from being the possible "Cinderella" of its group to a force capable of possibly advancing to the quarterfinals.
Opponents and schedule
Taking note of how fortunate the Roma draw were, it should be noted that these are still three opponents who won their respective championships last season. The level of competition imposes maximum attention and respect with regard to each of the scheduled challenges. "We want to focus on what will be our growth", coach Spugna told the club's official channels, "the matches will be difficult but it will be a thrill for us to play in the group stage and try to express our soccer on a more complicated and ambitious level. Let's not underestimate Slavia Prague and St. Polten who have more experience than us in this competition". Wolfsburg reached the Women's Champions League semifinals last year (despite getting only a point in the group double-header against Juventus, this year in Group C with Lyon, Arsenal and Zurich) and won the cup both in 2012-13 and 2013-14. The Germans are the favorites for first place, but two teams will go through. Slavia Prague entered the second preliminary round by eliminating Icelandic Valur thanks to the only goal scored in the away first leg. Slavia Prague has great experience in Europe and is the Czech team to have broken a nearly decade-long domestic hegemony of Sparta Prague. Lastly, there is St. Polten, Austria's first representative in the group stage. The last two are objectively within the reach of Spugna's team. Roma will begin its journey on Oct. 20th against Slavia "at home," at the Francioni di Latina (venue not yet made official, however). Six days later they will fly to Austria and then host Wolfsburg on Nov. 23rd, before heading to Germany on Dec. 8th for a match dangerously scheduled between Serie A's big matches against AC Milan and Juventus. St. Polten will be played in Italy on Dec. 16th, while an away trip to Slavia is scheduled for Dec. 22th where the last chapter of the story is yet to be written.
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