Lecce Vs. AS Roma: Giallorossi Penalty Helps Them Steal A Win At The Death

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Lecce Vs. AS Roma: 1-2 Full Time, Giallorossi Steal Three Points

The first half between Roma and Lecce was almost as dull as it possibly could have been, other than Mirko Vucinic's great goal, but the second half of their game was an entirely different story. With Lecce showing more ambition and Roma getting desperate at the end, the second half produced two goals and more open play, eventually resulting in a 2-1 Roma victory. 

The first half got off to a decent start, with Roma applying a bit of pressure for the first five minutes. This culminated in their best chance of the entire half, when Marco Borriello hit a shot just wide of the far post after making an excellent turn with his back to goal from the center of the penalty area.

Around the 55th minute the tide began to turn, and Roma suddenly looked less in control. Ruben Olivera almost equalized in the 57th minute when he hit a stunning half volley that only missed going in at the upper 90 by less than six inches. Less than a minute later, Doni was forced into a great sprawling save on a Daniele Corvia header. Suddenly, Lecce were looking ambitious and taking the game to Roma. As the minutes went on, it was easy to wait for Roma to turn it on, but it never came. For a sustained period, Lecce were the much better team.

On the 65th minute, Corvia narrowly missed the target again, blasting a shot just wide. After that chance, it felt like the energy in the stadium changed. The fans felt that their club could get the equalizer...and so did Roma. It was an incredible "oh no, we're actually in trouble" moment.

The equalizer would come in the 75th minute. Guillermo Giacomazzi scored it in brilliant fashion, and it was no more than Lecce deserved. Gianni Munari picked up the assist with his ball in the box, but most of the credit belongs to Giacomazzi, who hit a brilliant looping header from the center of the box into the back of the next that Doni had no chance of saving.

However, Lecce's joy would be short lived. Instead of playing the football that got them the equalizer and had them out-playing Roma for at least 20 minutes, Lecce bunkered in and decided to attempt to preserve the point. Their tactical decision came back to haunt them in the 88th minute when Munari, the man who assisted the equalizer, was called for a handball in the box. David Pizarro stepped up and converted, giving the lead back to Roma in the 90th minute. They would hold on to the 2-1 victory, stealing a much needed three points for the Giallorossi.

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Lecce Vs. AS Roma: 0-1 Halftime, Mirko Vucinic Goal Punishes Negative Lecce

AS Roma and Lecce didn't exactly play the most thrilling brand of football in the first half of their Serie A match, but they at least produced some talking points. Lecce's negative play made entertaining football difficult, but a great goal and some injuries spiced up a game that started out a little dull.

It appeared at first glance that Roma would stay with their 4-4-2 diamond setup, but they actually came out in a 4-2-3-1 formation with Marco Borriello as a lone striker, Mirko Vucinic as the left winger, and David Pizarro and Daniele De Rossi sitting in front of the defense. That defense was supposed to include Juan, but it was announced at the last minute that Nicolas Burdisso would be starting in his place. There were no surprises from Lecce, as they went 4-5-1 with ten men behind the ball from the start.

Roma failed to find their footing early and the first real chance of the game was Lecce's, despite their lack of ambition. A Phillipe Mexes foul created a set piece opportunity for Ruben Olivera, who blasted a 30 yard shot just inches over the crossbar.

Very little happened until around the 20th minute, when the pace of play started to pick up and the game became more open. Roma had two chances shortly afterwards, with Vucinic blasting a shot over the bar in the 22nd minute and Marco Cassetti missing just wide with a low shot off of a great through ball by Borriello. In the 27th minute, Roma had a good chance on the counter attack, but a terrible touch by Rodrigo Taddei in the penalty area killed the move.

In the 30th minute Cassetti appeared to pick up a knock for the second time in the game, forcing a substitution. Juan came on in his place, moving Burdisso to right back. The injury didn't appear to be terribly serious, as Cassetti was able to walk off the pitch under his own power.

Roma would find their breakthrough in the 32nd minute, thanks to some poor closing down and a brilliant individual effort by Vucinic. Receiving the ball in the middle of the pitch, 50 yards from goal, Vucinic took a high ball off his chest and turned his defender before surging forward 30 yards on his own. The Lecce defenders gave him entirely too much space, and he hit a low shot just inside the far post from the right side of the pitch, 20 yards from goal. Roma had the lead they deserved after pushing the pace since the 20th minute and being the more ambitious side for the entire match.

Just one minute later, the Giallorossi dodged a bullet when De Rossi managed to not get sent off for a tackle that looked like a straight red card offense. The Roma enforcer went in with a two footed leg breaker and luckily avoided actually breaking Gustavo's leg, if only by the thinnest of margins. Somehow, De Rossi was only shown a yellow card.

Lecce did some challenging on set pieces at the end of the half, but ultimately failed to challenge Doni's goal. The hosts have shown very little ambition going forward and will likely need to score on a set piece if they're going to get back in this game. For Roma, they're halfway to a valuable and expected three points. It would be very shocking to see them do anything but win, and they should only improve in the second half.

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Lecce Vs. AS Roma: Lineups

The lineups are out for the Serie A match between Lecce and AS Roma, and there are minimal surprises. Roma should line up in their regular narrow 4-4-2 diamond setup, while Lecce will probably look to stifle play with a 4-5-1 setup. Francesco Totti is suspended, and Vincenzo Montella still appears to have no place in his first XI for Jeremy Menez. Marco Borriello and Mirko Vucinic will form a strike partnership up top, while David Pizarro gets another start. The Chilean was one of Roma's best players last season, but he was not first choice this year under Claudio Ranieri. 

AS Roma lineup (4-4-2 narrow diamond): Doni; Riise, Mexes, Juan, Cassetti; De Rossi, Pizarro, Perrotta, Taddei; Borriello, Vucinic

Lecce lineup (4-5-1): Rosati; Fabiano, Gustavo, Brivio, Donati; Vives, Olivera, Giacomazzi, Mesbah, Munari; Jeda

Lecce's defense is the worst in Serie A, so it wouldn't be stunning to see the pairing of Borriello and Vucinic get on the score sheet early if they're clicking. Attacking midfielder Ruben Olivera is likely to be Lecce's biggest threat, but he's got his hands full with Pizarro and Daniele De Rossi. His time on the ball will probably be limited.

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Lecce Vs. AS Roma: Preview, Giallorossi Still Chasing UEFA Champions League Football

It's incredible to think that AS Roma, a club in poor form that recently fired their manager, is still in contention for the UEFA Champions League. Lazio don't appear to be up for the long-term fight and Juventus are in free fall mode. Roma have plenty of problems, but fourth place is there for the taking. 

Their opponent on Friday is a Lecce side that currently sits above the drop zone, but is certainly in danger of going down. The team directly below them, Parma, is seemingly too talented to go down while Cesena and Brescia seem to be on Lecce's level. They're unlikely to see a game against Roma as one where they need to win, but with the Giallorossi's erratic nature, nothing is ever certain.

The first match between these two sides in Serie A featured a dominating performance from Roma, though a look at the box score doesn't reveal this. Francesco Totti was sent off in that fixture, and it took Roma until the 62nd minute to score their first goal in that 2-0 victory. Roma should face a slightly tougher test on Friday on the road, but it's difficult to look back at that game and draw any conclusions about what might happen in this match.

The most obvious reason for that is the coaching change that just took place in Rome. Claudio Ranieri was fired after his side turned a 3-0 lead into a 4-3 loss against Genoa. That loss came shortly after an embarrassing home loss to Shakhtar Donetsk in the UEFA Champions League that put Ranieri's long term future in doubt. 

Caretaker manager and club legend Vincenzo Montello has yet to make wholesale changes with the team's tactics and selection, preferring to leave things as they were for the time being, for the most part. He hasn't found a place for Jeremy Menez in his team in either of his two matches in charge, while it seems like David Pizzaro could come back into an important role with the club. It shouldn't come as too shocking that wholesale tactical changes haven't been made, because there never really was an inherent tactical flaw. Roma's problems appear to stem more from attitude and possibly team selection than tactics.

The incredible (and scary) thing about Lecce is that, despite their current 16th place standing, most of their impact players appear to be over-achieving. No player has more than five goals, but three of Lecce's leading scorers, David Di Michele, Daniele Corvia, and Ruben Olivera are either performing at or above levels that could have been reasonably expected. Gianni Munari and Ignacio Piatti are in this same boat in the midfield.

On the other end of the field, Lecce's defense is the worst in Serie A. A look at the talent along their back line doesn't unearth any abnormalities; Lecce's defense is as bad as it's supposed to be. So, basically, if the (below average) offense regresses to the mean, Lecce are worse than their 16th place standing and -18 goal differential. Ouch.

Because of this, it's pretty hard to predict anything but a Roma victory, and without a whole lot of struggle. Still, Roma are a very erratic team at the moment, and that has to be taken into account. So, expect a Roma victory, but prepare yourself for the shock of a spectacular meltdown. 

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