Lecce, who are Juventus’ first opponents after Italy’s winter break, might be rock bottom of Serie A but nobody could ever accuse them of being boring.
Apart from Barcelona and Napoli, they’re the only side to have put three past Milan keeper Christian Abbiati this season.
In their case, the Giallorossi burst the net three times in the first half alone, before tragically letting Kevin Prince-Boateng net a hat-trick and allowing Milan to steal all the points.
Barely two weeks later, ex-Roma player Eusebio Di Francesco was out, replaced by Serse Cosmi, a man who once “jokingly” argued for leg-breaking as chastisement for bad crossers of a ball.
Since his arrival, Lecce have produced the spirited performances typically associated with Cosmi – a 3-2 home defeat with Lazio preceding a preposterous 3-3 against Parma at the Tardini.
Sunday’s home tie against Juventus is unlikely to be any different, with more than 3.5 goals certainly worth a look at 11/5.
Lecce’s form going into the match is still negative: having not won since the start of November, they seem doomed against a side whose odds to triumph are pretty short at 9/20.
Having grabbed three consecutive draws against tough opposition (Napoli, Udinese and Roma), Juventus will almost certainly forget last season’s humiliating 2-0 defeat here.
Over the last few weeks, Antonio Conte’s side have shown their so-called “bouncebackability”, rescuing points against Roma and Napoli. There will be little need of it here, however, as they aim to pick up where they left off against Novara before Christmas.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that the visitors will have it all their own way, especially not against a side known for causing Milan and Lazio quite a few headaches: at 29/20, expect Cosmi’s side to score once in this match.
The Apulians will run their socks off in the first half, before collapsing against a better-drilled and technically superior opponent, which is why odds of 333/100 on a drawn opening 45 minutes look appealing.
Since the start of the season, Lecce have dropped a staggering ten points after the break, the Milan game providing the best example of Claudio Ranieri’s badly-interpreted “game of two halves” quote.
Along the same lines, it is definitely worth considering the 27/20 on Juventus netting more in the second half than in the first. But who will score them?
Of the Old Lady’s last five goals, only one has been netted by a striker: the much-underestimated Fabio Quagliarella, who is level-second in the stakes to net the last goal of the game at 7/1, as he did against Novara.
Otherwise, keep an eye out for the midfield, especially Simone Pepe, who was outstanding against Novara (2/1 to score at any time), or Claudio Marchisio, who is starting to show his offensive potential this season (7/2 to score at any time).
For Lecce, there is one player worth avoiding. Ruben Olivera, who has otherwise been excellent, tends to play a little sketchily against the big sides, especially Juventus, who never truly gave him a chance after they bought him in 2003. His odds of 5/1 to score first don’t seem that interesting, despite the oft-quoted “legge dell’ex”.
Daniele Corvia, on the other hand, could defy his judicial issues and, despite probably starting on the bench, net the last goal of the game at 10/1.
David Di Michele has also recently woken up and his outrageous overhead kick against Parma is evidence enough for me to back the 2/1 on him to score at any time.
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