Marija Banušic: Italian tactics, overhead kick expertise, and a title charge in the making

Date: 15th April 2021 at 8:55am
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They say that confidence is the most valuable tool in football, and if Marija Banušic’s comments are anything to go by, Roma have it in abundance.

The Swedish forward joined Roma in February, having previously turned out for Chelsea, Montpellier, Kristianstads DFF, Beijing BG Phoenix, and more. Despite only being 25 years old, she knows what it takes to win, having lifted the Women’s Super League and the FA Women’s Cup whilst in West London.

Speaking exclusively to Forza Italian Football about her knowledge of winning trophies, she said: “It takes a lot. It’s not enough for just one player to know how to do it, everyone has to be on the same page to reach that goal.”

Banušic’s confidence when talking about her new team is unwavering, and she clearly feels the team is destined for silverware in the very near future.

“With the potential every player has I really think this is not just a winning team, but a title-winning team.”

The Swede has complete faith in the project Roma has set out before her. This is so vital when a team wants to oust a dominant force such as Juventus.

“I think there’s a really good project and so much potential in the players. The kind of professionalism the club has with the coaches and how each player just focuses on performing, not on anything else, is a really important factor to be able to win titles and play how they want us to play.

“For me, it’s easy because you have everything, you have all the information tactically, you’re prepared physically and mentally, so I think there’s a really interesting project going on here and I would love to be a part of it”.

Claiming to be able to win Serie A Femminile these days is effectively claiming that you can win almost every single game you play. Juve currently sit top of the table, having won every league game they’ve played. Their most recent fixture was a 9-1 win over bottom side Pink Bari.

Roma have finished fourth for the past two seasons, and it’s looking very likely that that’s where they’ll be at the end of the 2020/21 season. With just five games left to play, third-placed Sassuolo are nine points ahead of Roma, but the Giallorosse have a five-point lead over fifth-placed Fiorentina.

There’s a sign from this year’s Coppa Italia campaign that suggests Roma could be much closer to Juve next season. In the first leg of their semi-final, Roma ran out 2-1 winners over the Bianconere, becoming the first domestic team to beat Juventus for almost two years.

When asked how special it would be to knock Juve out of the tournament, Banušic showed she’s looking way beyond just trying to beat Rita Guarino’s side in a one-off cup tie.

“Whoever we’re against I would be happy to knock them out, it doesn’t matter if it’s Juventus or any other club,” she said. “Of course, they are a very good team but we have our goal ahead and we want to win the second leg, go to the final and hopefully win that too.”

There’s something very formulaic about the way Banušic talks about football. It’s clear there are no accidents in her game, all her achievements are down to hard work and a strong relationship with her teammates.

Against Inter in March, she scored what may prove to be the goal of the season. It was a wonderful overhead kick in a thrilling 4-3 victory. Clearly, though, it was a goal she had been trying to score for a long time.

“I practiced it a lot when I was young, and I’ve said to each winger in every club I’ve played in, put the cross in like Anna [Annamaria Serturini] did, and nobody could except for her,” she said. “So I’m very happy that it happened now and, like I said before, it’s no surprise that it happened in this team so it was perfect, it was a perfect moment for me.”

That comment about other wingers not being able to provide the quality of cross that Serturini did suggests that Banušic feels she’s playing at a higher level now than she has in the past.

“The Italian football is very tactical, it’s very tactical as well as technical,” she explained. “They emphasise the organisation during the game a lot more than what I’m used to. It’s the only place I think has the same emphasis on tactics as Sweden does.”

This similarity to Swedish football, where Banušic racked up 91 appearances and 42 goals, has meant she can settle in seamlessly in Rome.

“Coming from France that has quite a different football style, it took some time for me to get into this style with the training and programmes being very different,” she said. “But when it comes to football I really like this style, I like this philosophy, how this club wants to play, and when it’s fun everything is easier.”

Despite the differing style of the English Women’s Super League, Banušic has a lot of admiration for her former employer Chelsea. When discussing the league she said: “It was very competitive. You can see every game is a good game. It’s very interesting to follow Chelsea and I honestly think they will win the Champions League this year with the depth and variety they have in their squad.”

She may be enjoying her time at Roma already, but Banušic is yet to play for her new club in front of the fans. There’s been a general feeling around football that the players are gaining a new appreciation for what supporters bring to a match day, and Banušic certainly agrees.

“You can really feel it when you play a game and there are fans, it’s a special feeling,” she said. “I think every player realises now the impact and the importance fans have on us players during the game, even during the warm-up. It’s really important and I can’t wait [for fans to be back].”

Based on Banušic’s assessment of her Roma side, they could be one to keep an eye on next season. Juve, AC Milan, and Sassuolo seem to be on a slightly higher level right now, but there’s clear potential at Roma to stage a title charge in the near future. That title charge would be made all the more satisfying for Banušic if it’s watched live by adoring fans.


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