While Udinese against Roma is undoubtedly the showpiece game of this weekend in Serie A, it is another, much less glamorous game that promises to hold arguably just as much interest. Only a point separates 17th placed Lecce from Sampdoria in 16th and on Sunday the two will go head to head at the Marassi in what could be a vital fixture in deciding who lives to fight another season in Serie A and who does not.
The game pits the league’s worst defence against a Sampdoria attack that have only scored six more goals than basement side Bari this season. Interestingly, though, Lecce are a comparatively good side going forwards and even proved with their 2-0 win over Udinese that, on their day, they can defend. Somehow, Lecce kept out the league’s joint top scorers for 90 minutes to claim what could be a vital victory come the end of the season.
Sampdoria will be buoyed by the fact that Lecce have only won away from home twice all season, drawing just three games while losing ten. They will endeavour to control the game by deploying three central midfield players in Angelo Palombo, Andrea Poli and Fernando Tissone. Of the three, Poli is the player they will look to for a creative spark to feed their wildly out of form front men.
Up against Poli and company in the centre of the pitch, on loan Roma youngster Andrea Bertolacci will be hoping to continue his good for having scored a brace against Udinese last weekend. The midfielder took his goals well after arriving late in the penalty area, something that Sampdoria captain and Italy international Palombo must keep in mind as he tries to snuff out any Lecce attacks.
This Sampdoria side certainly has goals in it; they have simply not been flowing freely of late. Arguably their best hope comes in the form of Stefano Guberti. The former Roma winger has been rare bright spot in what has turned out to be a disastrous season for Samp and has scored five times for his side already. Goals could also come from forwards Nicola Pozzi, although the former Empoli man hasn’t scored since last year, and Massimo Maccarone. Despite their lack of goals, Sampdoria do possess enough attacking talent to cause problems for a porous Lecce defence.
The danger, of course, is that the game could be the latest in a recent spate of bore draws the culminated in Sampdoria’s mind-numbingly boring 0-0 against Chievo last week. However, with Lecce coming off the back of a recent run of decent form and Sampdoria keen to move clear of danger as soon as possible, it seems implausible that either team would play for a draw.
Samp will be hoping that Lecce’s shocking defensive record continues and that their misfiring frontline can take advantage, while Lecce must hope that their miracle win over Udinese was not merely a flash in the pan.