The numbers speak for themselves: in six road games this season Palermo has only managed 1 point out of a possible 18 while being outscored 9 goals to 0. While horrifying, the numbers don’t reveal the full story. Of the six games played, four of the road matches came against Serie A teams currently sitting in first through fourth place. A fifth game was played against 7th place Roma while the other game came against an Atalanta side that started the season well despite a point deduction. Furthermore, the numbers have been deceptive as the Rosanero have had a whole slew of misfortune in almost all of those matches save one (against Milan).
The disconcerting aspect of the road form has been the lack of goals scored. Yet, for all those zeroes on the scoreboard, it’s not for a lack of attempts on goal. Palermo had an abundance of chances in the games against Lazio, Roma and Udinese and probably deserved at least a point out of each one of those games. Against Juventus, the entire match could have taken on a different look had Iličić managed to capitalize on his opportunities. Nevertheless, the fact remains the Rosanero have yet to score a goal on the road. Furthermore, injuries to the attack have decimated the team’s choices up top forcing Mangia to make adjustments that he wouldn’t normally have to rely on.
And now, Palermo heads to Parma to take on a team that has been an enigma itself but presents an easier matchup on paper for the winless travelling team. The Gialloblu have been up and down this season, losing badly against the likes of Juventus and Milan while beating Napoli and Udinese. One of their problems has been a reliance on one man in the attack. Coach Franco Colomba has had to rely almost solely on Sebastian Giovinco to get goals. The “Atomic Ant” has seven goals with the next best scorers all on one goal a piece. The defense represents a bit of an issue as well. The pairing of Paletta (a former Palermo transfer target) and Lucarelli hasn’t exactly been the Hoover Dam.
It isn’t Juventus, Milan, Lazio, Udinese or Roma. If the club are going to make an improvement with their away form, Parma presents as good of an opportunity as the Rosanero have had to date this season.
pisano – silvestre – migliaccio – balzaretti
acquah – bačinovič – barreto
iličić – varela
Bench: tzorvas; aguirregaray, cetto; bertolo, della rocca, alvarez; bollino
Last week, Mangia threw everyone a curveball when he opted for Ciccio Benussi in goal ahead of Alex Tzorvas. His reasoning was down to communication issues between the goalkeeper and his back line. As it stands, it seems like Benussi will get his second consecutive start after performing well against Fiorentina. Whether the language reason is legitimate or not, Benussi seems just as capable between the sticks as his Greek counterpart.
Balzaretti’s return from suspension comes at the right time – especially since Mantovani picked up a slight injury and did not make the trip. Federico will join Pisano and Silvestre in the back while the second center back spot is still up in the air. Cetto is trying to earn his spot back but considering Migliaccio’s fantastic showing against La Viola, betting against Giulio would be unwise.
The midfield seems to be the biggest question mark for Devis Mangia. Palermo should incorporate the 4-3-2-1 formation and the most likely midfielders assured starting spots are Iličić and Bačinović. Acquah and Barreto seem like the next logical choices for the three man portion of the midfield. Don’t discount Edgar Alvarez however. Mangia made it a point to mention him in his press conference and state that the Honduran is ready to return to the field. Paired alongside Iličić for the other trequartista role seems to be a decision between Nicolas Bertolo and the young Lores Varela. Each player brings a different set of skills to the table and it’ll be a decision based on how Mangia “feels” on Sunday afternoon. Yet, don’t discount an Aguirregaray sighting, considering the Argentinean made an appearance in that role in a shock move earlier in the year.
Up top, the duty belongs solely to Mauricio Pinilla. Devis was very wise to withhold him from last week’s match and the move is proving to be timely considering the injuries to Miccoli (last week), Abel Hernandez, the ever injured Igor Budan and Eran Zahavi. So dire is the situation that Mangia opted to call-up a young Primavera player for the match. The 16 year old Palermitano (he turns 17 on the 31st of the month) has been on fire for the youth team. In only 11 games, Bollino has scored 8 goals and has been one of the protagonists in the Primavera’s torrid start to the campaign (they’ve won 7 straight games). It would be a dream come true for the Palermo native should he get to see action on the pitch. Nonetheless, he’s the only striking option the Rosanero have should something befall Pinilla.
Devis Mangia has been very straightforward since taking over as coach. He answers questions and doesn’t deliver excuses. Despite all the injuries, the young coach refuses to use it as an opportunity to let his team off the hook. As mentioned time and time again, the club’s road form has been a problem long before Mangia and the current crop of players ever arrived. Should there be a reversal in this issue, it must start first in the mind. Even though Parma presents an easier matchup hypothetically, the Ducati boast the fifth best home record in Serie A where they’ve won four games out of six. Palermo can make a statement in the posticipo on Sunday. If they are successful, it would be an overwhelming boost to the team’s morale as the road question has loomed over their heads since the season began.
SIAMO TERRONI E CE NE VANTIAMOOOOOO!!!