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SerieAWeekly On August - 31 - 2011

Italian Serie A 2011-2012 Club Preview: U.S. Lecce

Serie A Weekly welcome guest writer Steven Van Duyse to our crew with an eye to U.S. Lecce.
Find out more on the potential of the Giallorossi in 2011-2012 as Steve lets us know if these Southerners will be more than Serie A bottom feeders in their second season up from Serie B calcio. Lecce narrowly avoided the drop last season, five points clear of the relegation zone.

2010 -11 Recap

When people talk about US Lecce, the words ‘relegation battlers’ are never far away. The Salentini have always been a yo-yo club, bouncing back and forth between Serie A & B over the past 15 years, and not getting relegated can always be seen as a small success for the Apulian minnows. That was also the goal for coach Luigi Di Canio last year, after winning the Serie B title and taking the team back to Serie A.  Di Canio succeeded by finishing 17th, but it remains to be seen if Lecce would’ve stayed up if Sampdoria didn’t fuck up so bad. To be honest, Lecce was an exciting team last season, outscoring all other teams in the second half of the table. Nice attacking football in stead of playing for a draw saw the Giallorossi bring a nice extra to the Serie A table and it’s good that at least one of the Apulian teams managed to stay in Serie A for one more season.

Key Acquisitions
Julio Sergio (on loan from Roma), Rodney Strasser (on loan from Milan), Andrea Esposito (loan), Moris Carrozzieri, Christian Obodo (loan)

Key Departures
Antonio Rosati, Gianni Munari, Gigi Di Canio, Jeda

The Summer So Far

Just like many of the other smaller teams, Lecce likes to loan players from bigger clubs, accompanied by the acquisition of one or two promising youngsters. In the past, guys like Chevanton & Vucinic went on to have great careers after excelling at Lecce. This summer, they brought in Roma-keeper Julio Sergio to replace Napoli-bound Antonio Rosati and former Palermo-defender Carrozzieri to strengthen the defense. Carrozzieri comes off a 2-year suspension for cocaine abuse, but has shown that he’s still a skilled player during the Coppa Italia final in May. The loan deal for Udinese-midfielder Christian Obodo could be a good deal for both, seeing as he needs to get his career back on track after being loaned out to Serie B side Torino last season. The biggest loss, aside from Rosati, could well be coach Di Canio. The man did not only bring Lecce back to the top division, he also managed to keep them there by playing attractive football. It remains to be seen if 41-year old Eusebio Di Francesco can follow in Di Canio’s footsteps, after guiding Pescara to a Serie B promotion and a quiet season last year.

What Next?

It would be a serious overestimation not to name Lecce as a possibility for relegation. A new coach, the loss of a couple of key players and the fact that direct competitors Cesena and Novara have done a lot better in the transfer window will result in a long and hard season for the team form Italy’s heel. A lot will depend on the accuracy of the offense, with the two Danieles, Cacia and Corvia, providing back-up for the ageing David Di Michele. With a defense that doesn’t look too secure, Lecce’s only strength seems to be the midfield with the additions of Strasser and Obodo. Lecce still have a week left in the mercato, and they’ll have to make use of their time if they want to remain in Serie A for another season. As it stands right now, the team lacks quality and is depending on loaned players way too much. With the biggest part of your personnel changing every year, you can’t build a solid team for the future.

Man to watch

Tie between Obodo and Strasser. The former Nigerian international started out great at Udinese, but failed to get back to his old level after several serious injuries. After a season on loan to Torino, which saw him spend more time in the stands than on the field, this might be Obodo’s last shot at a decent team in Serie A. Strasser, on the other hand, is starting his first full season in Italy’s top division. The youngster, on loan from AC Milan, managed 5 appearances for the Rossoneri last season, scoring the winner against Cagliari. Much is expected from the talented defensive midfielder and his performances will have an undeniable effect on Lecce’s, both good and bad.

Prediction

The 2011-2012 Serie A-season will not be a rose garden for the Salentini. Last year, they were lucky that Sampdoria decided that the ideal way to follow up a top 4-finish was to get relegated and that Brescia and Bari had even less talent on their rosters. With an eager and heavily improved Novara, an ambitious Catania and Cesena and Siena wanting revenge, things look really bad for Di Francesco’s men. The only consolidation they have is that they will start out with a six point bonus over Atalanta. We’re not expecting Lecce to avoid the drop this season.

You can follow Steve on twitter @stevenvanduyse

  • Rob

    Nice article. Looks like it’s gonna be tough season for Lecce. Hopefully, they do manage to scrape though. The more teams from the mezzogiorno the better!

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