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Lecce vs. Roma : Serie A Match Preview

While Easter is a bit earlier this year than I’ve grown to expect, we’re still getting closer and closer to the end of the Serie A season, and with that, tensions are rising in the fight for Champions League football. Lazio’s 1-0 win over Juventus on Saturday showcased that the fight for a top four/five spot in Serie A will be tough until the finish. Add in the fact that Roma is one of the few Italian sides fighting for a European trophy, and the challenge facing Daniele De Rossi following this international break comes into stark effect.

Yet there’s still reason for hope for the Giallorossi faithful, even beyond the fact that Monday’s match will be against mid-table Lecce. Although Roma suffered a couple of key injuries before and during the international break, so many Giallorossi players have been in good form over the past month, and where there are injuries, there are players who are hungry for minutes, willing and able to step into the starting eleven. Monday’s match will be a chance for the players who are hot, like Lorenzo Pellegrini and Leandro Paredes, to stay hot; if they can, then it becomes that much easier for Roma to fight for success in multiple competitions through late May.

What To Watch For

Tommaso Baldanzi’s Big Chance

AS Roma Training Session

Photo by Fabio Rossi/AS Roma via Getty Images

Player Number One, who looks set to get a serious chance against Lecce, is Tommaso Baldanzi. With Paulo Dybala struggling with injury and only returning to training two days before the Lecce match, it’s highly likely that The Italian Dybala (yeah, I’m calling him that) will get starter’s minutes for the first time since he moved to Rome.

While he hasn’t been racking up starts just yet in a Roma kit, Baldanzi has looked impressive as a sub, displaying the quality you want to see from a young playmaker even if he hasn’t been able to find the net just yet. One has to wonder if a true start will give him the confidence he needs to get that first goal in a Roma kit; if that is what he needs, it will be coming at the exact right time.

While the Giallorossi might not be sweating too much about playing against Lecce on Monday, they certainly will be thinking a whole lot about the Derby della Capitale that is set for Saturday. If Baldanzi is able to come into that match with a head of steam, Roma’s hopes in a match that is crucial for both bragging rights and league placement won’t just depend on Paulo Dybala. Beyond that, a goal for Baldanzi would ensure that when we discuss his first several months in Rome, we do so in a positive way.

Who Is The Starting Striker?

AS Roma Training Session

Photo by Fabio Rossi/AS Roma via Getty Images

Sardar Azmoun is out due to injury, and while Romelu Lukaku has reportedly recovered from the Injury he sustained against Brighton in the Europa League Round of 16, you have to imagine that Daniele De Rossi will want to keep Big Rom as fresh for the upcoming Derby as possible. With that in mind, I’m going to suggest that DDR looks to one Stephan El Shaarawy as a potential starting striker in Lukaku’s place.

While SES isn’t a typical striker, and definitely not a striker in the style of Lukaku, he does share characteristics with Azmoun such that I believe he could slot in well into DDR’s plans that would nominally include the Iranian attacker. Combining SES with Tommaso Baldanzi and Lorenzo Pellegrini in the middle of the pitch would provide a fantastic amount of creativity for Roma’s wingers and fullbacks to play with, and worst case scenario, SES flails around for 60 minutes, and Lukaku comes in as a substitute looking to get the three points.

In my mind, Monday’s match is largely about securing three points cleanly without tiring players out before the derby. Based on the form Roma has shown recently, I think that’s an achievable goal; still, guaranteeing Lukaku and Dybala some time to get as fresh as possible for the Derby della Capitale will do wonders for Roma in the medium and long term.

Match Details

Date: April 1st

Kickoff: 18:00 CET/12:00 EDT

Venue: Stadio Ettore Giardiniero, Via Del Mare

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