Lecce begin their second season in Serie A with just the slightest of expectations: cling on and avoid Serie B for 2012-2013. The Lettuce are sure to be included in every commentator's list of clubs likely to be relegated, but this is a squad set for a fight.
Lecce in 2010-2011
Lecce narrowly avoided the drop last season, finishing 17th, five points clear of the relegation zone. One thing you can say for the giallorossi, however, is that they refused to play cautious football, unlike many of those who feared the drop (ahem, Brescia, I'm looking at you). Just eight draws in 38 matches, Lecce had more goals scored than any other club in the bottom half of the table. Assuming their approach doesn't change this season, at least Lecce will continue to be a fun one to watch. Even if their colors are hideous.
Considering being a Lecce supporter? If this video, showing both footage of the distant past and the Serie A-clinching win against Bari, doesn't convince you, nothing will:
Antonio Rosati headed north (it's rare that Naples is north) to be a reliable backup for Morgan De Sanctis at Napoli. Lecce will miss Gianni Munari, and not simply because his name is so melodic - Palermo fully purchased the midfielder this summer, and then sent him on his way to Fiorentina.
Júlio Sérgio comes on loan from Roma, taking over the keeping gloves from Rosati. Defender Andrea Esposito is on loan from Genoa after a season at Bologna, Juan Cuadrado on loan from Udinese, and midfielder Rodney Strasser is on loan from Milan. Obviously Lecce have not heeded the wise words of Shakespeare: "Neither a borrow nor a lender be."
What to Expect from 2011-2012
David Di Michele, Lecce's venerable and diminutive striker, remains key, despite providing just eight goals last season. He'll likely be partnered up front with Jeda, the Brazilian who really started to threaten opposing defenses toward the end of last year. Rubén Olivera returned to the giallorossi last year from a season at Peñarol, should make an impact in midfield as long as he stays healthy, having injured his knee at the end of last season.
Potential Breakout Star
It's got to be Strasser, doesn't it? Everyone knows he had to be sent away from Milan so that Zlatan Ibrahimovic would stop kicking him, but he should provide some energy to the giallorossi. The youngster is just 21 and, despite not having many appearances for the rossoneri last season, did score a last minute winner in the match against Cagliari.
A rough road for Lecce, probably even rougher than last season. Barring another Sampdoria-type implosion, in which a team seems to deliberately get themselves relegated, Lecce will likely not make it three times lucky.