The tests have been passed at home, now another road test awaits Palermo. The Rosanero have been riding high and will look to continue their good form as they make the trip to another island, Sardegna, where Cagliari await. The “derby of the islands” will present a good opportunity for Mutti’s men to prove that their form isn’t strictly tied to home fixtures.
Sadly, the Sicilians will be without the hottest man in Europe as Fabrizio Miccoli will miss the match due to knocks he picked up during the last game. Were this a decisive match, the Palermo captain would’ve been able to give it a go, but the club decided to exercise caution by holding him out and risking further injury. It’ll be very tough to compensate for his absence as he has truly been the glue holding this team together with his scintillating form. Nonetheless, a long time absentee, Abel Hernandez did get the call-up after he recovered fully from injury.
Saturday’s fixture also represents an appointment with a face markedly familiar to all Palermo fans. No, not ex-coach Davide Ballardini, but recent forward turned ex, Mauricio Pinilla. Only a short few weeks ago, Pinilla was donning the Rosanero whilst fighting for a spot in the starting lineup. Then, after being declared “not for sale” by club brass, Pinilla joined Cagliari on a loan/option deal. The charismatic striker scored on his Cagliari debut and has already seemingly had an impact on the supporters on the other island. He’ll get the nod today and it will be odd seeing him playing in a different uniform. Nonetheless, a rejuvenated Budan has minimized the emotional “damage” left behind by Pinigol’s departure.
Pisano – Silvestre – Mantovani – Balzaretti
Migliaccio – Donati – Barreto
Ilicic – Budan
Bench: Tzorvas; Munoz, Aguirregaray; Zahavi, Vazquez; Mehmeti, Abel Hernandez
The heavy absence of Miccoli opens up several possibilities for Bortolo Mutti. Yet, the coach seems inclined to continue with the 4-3-1-2 formation that has brought success over the last four matches. Migliaccio is likely to start after sitting out with a rib injury and his place in the midfield, couple with Miccoli’s absence up top means that Nico Bertolo could fulfill the trequartista role while Ilicic plays as a second striker. Bertolo’s last few appearances have been superb. He’s a hard and tireless worker that has almost taken the mantle left behind by Antonio Nocerino. Yes, there are obvious differences between the two, but one common link is that they both tirelessly gave it their all, running around the entire match. Bertolo’s good form should be enough to retain a spot in the starting lineup.
Should Mutti not opt for such a lineup, he has a host of choices with Zahavi, Vazquez and Abel Hernandez all offering plenty of attacking options. With Zahavi and Abel just returning from lengthy absences and Vazquez not fully adapted to Serie A, it may make more sense to stick with what has been working.
Matches in Cagliari have rarely been positive for Palermo since the Sardinians return to Serie A. The Rosanero have won only once in that span at the Sant’Elia. Momentum is in Palermo’s favor and all eyes will be on the Rosanero response without Fabrizio Miccoli.
SIAMO TERRONI E CE NE VANTIAMOOOOO!!!!!!!