Lecce vs. Fiorentina – prediction, team news, lineups

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While, in midweek, the Viola completed back-to-back victories over Hearts in the Europa Conference League, they have won just two domestic games this term and none away from home; their hosts are yet to win at Stadio Via del Mare.

Match preview

Nicolas Gonzalez celebrates scoring for Fiorentina on October 13, 2022© Reuters

After the reverse fixture finished in a comfortable win for Fiorentina at Tynecastle, expectations were that the Tuscan club would claim six points from six against Group A rivals back in Florence, where they have compiled an impressive record in 2022.

Indeed, the Viola raced into a four-goal lead before half time at Stadio Artemio Franchi, before Nicolas Gonzalez added his second and the home side’s fifth after the break.

That leaves them second in the group with two matches remaining, now holding a four-point advantage over Hearts, so qualification for the Conference League’s knockout rounds is all but assured.

However, the picture has been very different in Serie A so far, as Fiorentina sat 13th in the table after nine rounds, having scored only seven goals – the club’s worst tally at this stage since 1986. They have already lost four times, too, including a 4-0 thumping by Lazio last Monday.

Vincenzo Italiano‘s men had suffered the same amount of defeats to this point last term – right at the start of his first campaign at the Franchi – but had accumulated 15 points and were forging a reputation as one of Calcio’s most dangerous wildcards.

Nonetheless, Fiorentina have the highest average possession in Serie A this season (61%), while Lecce have the lowest (40%), so dictating the play should not be an issue for the visitors at Via del Mare. However, their recent away record reads awfully – and there remain concerns about who will provide the goals.

Lecce boss Marco Baroni on August 13, 2022© Reuters

Despite a brave resistance – including Gabriel Strefezza‘s equaliser when his team were down to 10 men – Lecce lost at Roma last Sunday, and languish just outside the Serie A drop zone with nine games played of their comeback campaign.

Since promotion from the second tier as Serie B champions, the Puglian side have won just once and, like Fiorentina, have scored at a rate of less than a goal per game.

Though they were ultimately beaten by Paulo Dybala‘s penalty at Stadio Olimpico, Marco Baroni‘s men had previously put together a three-match unbeaten run, and they have also drawn each of their last three home fixtures 1-1.

That surely indicates Lecce can compete among the elite, but no side has attempted fewer shots in the Italian top-flight this term, so turning draws into wins will remain a challenge unless Baroni can inspire a change of fortunes up front.

With the experience of loan signing Samuel Umtiti now boosting the hosts’ back line, following his belated full debut last week, they can aspire to keep Fiorentina at bay for 90 minutes and perhaps even post their first home win.

Team News

Sofyan Amrabat warms up for Fiorentina in March 2021© Reuters

Joining long-term absentee Gaetano Castrovilli on the sidelines again, Fiorentina winger Riccardo Sottil is set to miss out on Monday, while midfield regular Sofyan Amrabat must serve a suspension for accumulated yellow cards.

Antonin Barak may therefore keep his place in the visitors’ midfield trio, after scoring against Hearts, and Giacomo Bonaventura should return to the starting XI.

As Vincenzo Italiano searches for the right recipe up front – and frequent rotation has perhaps not helped his cause – it remains to be seen which players will be selected in the final third.

Of 27 strikers to have played at least 500 minutes in Serie A this season, only two have been involved in fewer goals than summer signing Luka Jovic so far this term. Having found the net in Europe, the Serbian striker now battles it out with Arthur Cabral to lead the Viola’s attack in Puglia.

By contrast, Lecce’s Gabriel Strefezza has already scored four league goals, and the Brazilian starts on the right wing once again.

Marco Baroni will be without the suspended Morten Hjulmand, who was sent off in the first half against Roma, so Alexis Blin could come into the hosts’ midfield.

Meanwhile, Kristoffer Askildsen appears to have overcome a thigh injury suffered in Rome but may only be fit enough for the bench.

Lecce possible starting lineup:
Falcone; Gendrey, Baschirotto, Umtiti, Gallo; Gonzalez, Blin, Bistrovic; Strefezza, Ceesay, Banda

Fiorentina possible starting lineup:
Terracciano; Dodo, Milenkovic, Igor, Biraghi; Bonaventura, Mandragora, Barak; Gonzalez, Jovic, Kouame

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