D’Aversa isn’t Zeman: Lecce fails to break first half of season points record

Lecce, led by Roberto D’Aversa, couldn’t achieve Zeman’s record after their draw in their recent match. Following the conclusion of yesterday’s game, it emerged clearly that D’Aversa is not Zeman. This is not to question D’Aversa’s understanding of the game, but simply to illustrate that a victory over Cagliari would have catapulted the team beyond Zeman’s 2004-05 mid-season record.

Back in the 2004-05 season, Zeman’s Lecce, boasting a gem in Mirko Vucinic, ended the first half of the tournament with 22 points. Today’s side, however, has had to ‘settle’ for one less, although this is still in line with preseason expectations. Under D’Aversa, Lecce is comfortably away from the relegation zone. Nevertheless, the recent performances against Sardinians left a lingering sense of missed opportunity.

Lecce’s manager was justified in stating, “In Serie A, certain matches need to be sealed off.” The team had collected 11 points in the first 5 games, but only 10 in the next 14, which could be viewed as a concerning trend.

There were two key issues in yesterday’s 90-minute game.

Firstly, Lecce’s ‘length’ is noticeable. This is where the team performs their best. Relying heavily on the talents of players like Strefezza, with Baschirotto and Krstovic also doing good work. The fullbacks support the action courageously enough at times, but when the ball is lost, there are quite evident imbalances. Lecce does often rush towards goal, especially from outside the box. By the 20th minute, they had already attempted 6 shots and received 3.

Secondly, goalkeeper Falcone played a significant role. Both Lecce and Cagliari’s goals came from set pieces, with the 1-0 stemming from a corner kick. Gendrey found the back of the net with a header, which was unexpected as he had not scored previously in his career, neither in Italy nor in France. The equalising goal came from a long-range free kick by Viola. Falcone was able to intercept the ball and clear it off the line, but not before it had crossed it. Gazzetta dello Sport awarded him a score of 7 for his crucial interventions after Cagliari’s equaliser, recognising his excellent mid-season performance. With Falcone in goal, there’s a level of reassurance for the team, provided they do not become too complacent. The lack of victory-driven determination was evident in this match.

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