Like a boxer who has suffered a twelve round pummelling, Lecce coach Luigi De Canio was just happy to throw in the towel on Sunday afternoon after seeing his side systematically dismantled by a rampant Juventus.
Going into the game, the signs of improvement had been encouraging for the Puglian’s but by Sunday evening it was certainly back to the drawing board. The message is quite clear, Lecce are going to be in a relegation dog-fight this season and anyone who thinks otherwise might as well pack their bags and head for pastures new. When Alessandro Del Piero smashed in his record equalling goal in the final five minutes, De Canio’s thoughts must have already been turning to next weekend’s six pointer against Brescia. After the massacre in Turin, De Canio explained to the club’s official website exactly what had gone wrong. “Against opposition of this level, you have to go out and try to match them in every department, today we were nowhere near the level required to achieve anything positive”. He continued by stating that: “ all week I explained to the players that we have to reduce the space for the opposition but when they went out onto the pitch they ignored everything we had worked on and ultimately we paid a heavy price. To have gained a point here would have been very useful to us psychologically, but now we must look to the Brescia match which is our most important game of the season”.
Algerian midfielder Djamel Mesbah echoed his coach’s thoughts explaining that: “we knew that the game in Turin would be hard and as soon as we went 2-0 down we lost our belief and our desire, the team became disjointed and we lost our unity. We all know that salvation in this division is not going to be easy and we all must be aware that we will need to fight for every point. It is time to turn the page and think about our next match against Brescia”.
Speaking on local television station Channel 8, Skipper Guillermo Giacomazzi chose to concentrate on the penalty decision that he felt changed the match, and he had a particular message for match referee Gabriele Gava: “I agree we did not do a good match today but the penalty award which led to their second goal was dubious. There have been many times in my career when referee Gava has been in charge of Juventus games and decisions have always seemed to have gone in their favour. I also find it incredible that the official did not caution Felipe Melo as some of his tackles were reckless to say the least”.
De Canio finished off his press conference with a response to the Juventus midfielder’s comments that the 53-year-old tactician had said some derogatory things about Bianconeri coach Luigi Del Neri 24 hours before the match. De Canio replied: “I am astonished about the statements made from Felipe Melo after the game. Surely if I was to make any assessment about our opposition, I would at least wait until we have played them. It also amazes me that he can accuse me of anything after his behaviour on the pitch when he played for former coach Ciro Ferrara and his actions the day after the coach was sacked”.
So this weekend it is a return to fortress Via del Mare for the Salentini as they look to bounce straight back by maintaining their unbeaten home record. Brescia are in town, and surely anything other than a win will be unacceptable. Away from top-flight action, the club’s Primavera side suffered a 2-0 defeat away in Sicily against Catania. Guido Di Fabio’s youngsters are failing to replicate their good cup form in the league. This result leaves the Salentini third bottom of the standings. They will be hoping for an improvement next weekend when Sicily’s other football powerhouse, Palermo, visit Puglia. For the rest of the junior sides it was a fabulous weekend, the Allievi Nazionale beat Vibonese 4-1 as did the Giovanissimi Nazionale, by the same score line. The Allievi Regionali triumphed 4-1 over Virtus Casarano and the Giovanissimi Regionale beat the same opposition 2-0. Finally, the Giovanissimi Provinciali hammered Merine 5-1.