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Lecce vs Fiorentina: Preview

The Viola have a chance to really build some momentum, but the Giallorossi are a deceptively tough opponent.

ACF Fiorentina v SS Lazio - Serie A Photo by Giuseppe Maffia/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Fresh off steamrolling Heart of Midlothian to the tune of 5-1, Fiorentina return to league play with the long trip down to the heel of the boot to take on Lecce. In 36 previous meetings, the Viola are W14 D11 L11; last time they met (the 2019-2020 season) saw them split the fixtures, with the away team winning in each.

The referee for this one is 33-year-old Luca Massimi of Termoli. In 3 Serie A appearances this year, he’s handed out 13 yellow cards, 2 red cards, and a penalty; he’s got a reputation for being quick with the whistle. Under his direction, Fiorentina have won once and lost once (both last year): the 1-0 win over Empoli and the 0-1 loss at Venezia.

The match will be played on Monday, 17 October 2022, at 5:45 PM EST/2:45 PM EST at the Stadio Via del Mare, Lecce. The forecast calls for a warm autumn day, as you’d expect in Puglia, but it should cool down by kickoff, which will start after sunset. It’s a late night and a weeknight, so it’s tough to know how many supporters will be there, especially as the Curva remained silent in protest throughout the first half of the Hearts game.


Sitting in 16th with 7 points from 9 matches, it feels like Lecce are right about where we expected. Their only win came over Salernitana last month, and they also got knocked out by Serie B’s Citadella in the Coppa. However, there are signs of feistiness: they’ve kept every match so far to a 1-goal margin, including against AS Roma and Inter Milan, and even held capolista Napoli to a draw at the Maradona. As Serie A’s youngest squad, they’re hungry and unafraid, but not especially experienced either.

Manager Marco Baroni won’t have DM Morten Hjulmand or CM Kristijan Bistrović, but that shouldn’t change his approach. He plays a 4-3-3 that focuses primarily on counterattacking, with quick, technical LW Gabriel Strefezza (4 goals) as the primary threat and beanpole striker Assan Ceesay as a target for long balls (although he’s quicker and a better player than he gets credit for).

The Giallorossi generally play deeper in their own half than anyone in the league: they’re last in possession and in tackles in the final third, which indicates their approach. They’ll play exclusively on the break, trying to get Ceesay into the channels to hold the ball up for Strefezza or the nippy Federico di Francesco, who both love to cut inside and let fly. The midfielders and fullbacks don’t tend to get forward much, so all the attacking thrust comes from the front 3.


13th in the Serie A table ain’t great, Bob, especially with just 2 wins in the league and a 0-4 thumping at the hands of Lazio last time out. Of course, that 5-1 over Hearts does take a bit of the sting out—the Viola are firmly 2nd in the group now—but it’s now a matter of getting things right on the domestic front and trying to carry over a bit of momentum from Thursday’s big win.

Manager Vincenzo Italiano probably won’t have LW Riccardo Sottil but should have everyone else available. Luka Jović should draw the start up front again, although it’s more difficult to predict the makeup on the wings and the midfield. Jonathan Ikoné and Giacomo Bonaventura are both good bets to start, while Youssef Maleh, Alfred Duncan, and Riccardo Saponara also have a good chance of suiting up.

Breaking down a deep defense hasn’t been Fiorentina’s cup of tea so far, but they crisp passing and movement around the area they displayed against Hearts could herald a bit more of an edge at the business end of the pitch. The vertical, line-breaking passing on display against Hearts could be the key: if the central defenders can feed the midfielders and forwards through the middle so that they can turn and either drive forward or pick out a runner, the Viola should be fine. If they’re forced to attack exclusively down the wings, it could be a long evening.

Possible lineups

Pongračić or Umtiti, di Francesco or Banda; Martínez Quarta or Igor, Duncan or Maleh, Saponara or Gonzàlez
Made using Share My Tactics

How to watch

TV: Check the international television listings, but probably not.

Online: Here is your list of safe, reliable, and legal streams.

Ted’s Memorial Blind Guess Department

Despite having just 3 places and 2 points separating them in the table, most of the betting houses have Fiorentina as overwhelming favorites, which should be enough to make you very anxious indeed if you’re a Viola supporter. As previously mentioned, this edition of Lecce is pretty feisty and should claim some high profile scalps at some point this year.

However, Fiorentina have looked much better over the past couple of weeks; even that horror show against Lazio showcased a few good moments that just lacked the finishing touch. That’s why I’m calling for a 1-2 away win, with Jović and Saponara (playing against a former employer) on the board for the good guys and Ceesay pulling one back for the bad guys in a match where Fiorentina see at least 65% possession.

Forza Viola!