Delivered By Dybala

Like water to parched lips, Palermo was able to get a much needed victory over Sampdoria. The win was enough to vault the Sicilians out of the relegation zone and into 14th place. It was a total win for the Rosanero and one that will be remembered for years to come as the day Dybala delivered.

Sampdoria and Palermo both entered the match with a lot on the line. For Palermo, the prospects of remaining in the relegation zone were looming large especially coming off a disastrous non-performance against Roma. Furthermore, with Miccoli out due to injury and Abel Hernandez already shelved for a long time, there were a lot of question marks surrounding the Palermo attack. Meanwhile, Sampdoria were desperately searching for points, or even a point for that matter, entering play on Sunday with six consecutive defeats weighing them down. Were it not for such an excellent start to the season, Sampdoria would easily have occupied last place.

And thus, with all the questions surrounding the two teams, only one side showed up. Palermo utterly dominated the match from start to finish. They controlled the style of play, had numerous occasions on goal and shut down any semblance of a Sampdoria attack. Even with the wasted chances and the 0-0 scoreline at the half, the Rosanero were continually knocking on the Doria door. The feeling was an eventual breakthrough would occur.

Before addressing the obvious, there was another bright spot in the Palermo lineup: Ciccio Brienza. The dynamic midfielder made up for the absence of Miccoli by being a constant thorn in the side of the Sampdoria midfield and defense. He was omnipresent on the pitch and at times seemed to tease and taunt the opponents with his mazy runs. Many will look at the two goals from Dybala and put him on the pedestal but the occasions would not have presented themselves with such frequency had it not been for Brienza providing the passes (and earning both assists). When Brienza was brought to Palermo once more, it was at the personal request of Sannino and Perinetti. With both men gone, Ciccio is still proving his value by making Gasperini use him as an integral part of the lineup. It’s as if Palermo has turned back the clock to its halcyon days of budding expectation and bubbling excitement. It’s a joy to have him back in Rosanero.

Truly, though, the story of the day was the young Paulo Dybala. The Argentine with the looks and physique of a 15 year old Justin Bieber showed what all the hype was about when Palermo opened up the purse strings to acquire a teenager who only had one year of professional experience in Argentina’s second division. Getting only his second start, Dybala used his youthfulness and speed to create space and chances for himself versus a Sampdoria defense that wasn’t able to keep him under control. The “picciriddu” could have easily had four to five goals to his name were it not for a pair of misses and two fantastic saves by Romero. Yet, there he was to answer the call with two terrific goals that belong right up there alongside Cavani’s dream debut goal. In fact, Dybala, four days shy of his 19th birthday, became the second youngest player in Palermo history to score in Serie A (the first was none other than Levan Mch’edlidze who scored the winner versus Juve at 18 years old, 6 months and 12 days) and also the youngest player to ever score a brace for Palermo. The performance was one that provides relief to an attack force that up till now has had to rely solely on Fabrizio Miccoli. The key to Dybala’s success going forward, though, will be to allow him to continue to play without any unnecessary pressure being squared on his shoulders.

Finally, a side note on a player who is easily the most divisive amongst the Rosanero fan base: Josip Iličić. With the Slovenian now in his third year at Palermo, he has already lived the spectrum of opinions and performances unlike any other who has played on the team. His first year was phenomenal, aided by the presence of Pastore, and he was able to play carefree, flowing football. Last year was abysmal and every other adjective for awful that you can find in a thesaurus. So far this season, Iličić has been a good team player. He has had moments where he’s made the wrong choice, whether that’s a poor shot or poor pass but overall he has shown marked improvement from the Iličić of one season ago. Last year, he gave up too easily and had a tendency to sulk. For the most part, this season, Iličić has been more active and engaged and while the goals haven’t come in, he’s been a productive member of the squad. Perhaps more than any other player, Iličić feels the pressure that comes with the lack of support he gets from the crowd. Confidence is an intangible that can ultimately make or break a player and it’s readily apparent that when a player has the backing of the crowd, the game tends to open up. Hopefully, Iličić stays on the path he’s been on and finds his knack for goal, but until then, he has been contributing to Palermo at a good clip.

Palermo can breathe a little easier now that they’ve managed to gain some ground on the relegation race but they have another good chance to keep the momentum going. Bologna away is on the cards next and the team is definitely beatable. With what was witnessed on Sunday, Palermo can use this performance as a stepping stone for more success.


11 thoughts on “Delivered By Dybala

  1. Milan play Napoli next week. We play Bologna.

    We could very well end up even with Milan on 14 points. Even given how terrible Milan are this year, I’d count the season a success at this point to see Palermo push to finish ahead of them, even if the place is meaningless

  2. Finally got to watch the match in replay… great review – as usual. Comments on Brienza were spot on and what a wicked left foot Dybala has ! Hope we can get on a roll because our last four games before the break are v. Inter and Udinese on the road and Juve and Fiorentina at home – ouch.

  3. Nice work Lorenzo, good review. (Maybe a word or two on middle field and defense would be nice).
    But otherwise this was a game of two (Brienza and Dybala). And it is realy important for Palermo that the number of those who can score has increased. Who can not be happy for Dybala? Imagine what a 18 years old teenager is going through. There will be hard times to, but this is his moment to celebrate!
    And Lorenzo- thank you for fair description of where Iličić is at the moment. To me it seems that he is under enormous pressure for long time now. And this pressure holds him captive, so that he can”t performe better. Realy happy that he scored against Roma, but what he needs is goal in important moment. He needs his confidence back. We all know what would that mean for Palermo. So please fans, support him, for the sake of Palermo, if not for himself.
    Otherwise, since I live in Ljubljana (capital of Slovenia) I am only an hour and half from Stadi Friuli (Udinese) where Palermo will play on 16 of decembre. Anybody who would like to attend the game with me? 🙂

      • Same here. I’m in Boston. Not exactly a day trip.

        To make it worse, one of the guys in grad school with me just came over from Parma, so he’s been telling me even more great stuff about Italy, and how I should go over for Spring Break and catch a match. If only the cost wasn’t so astronomical…

    • I”m just teasing you guys. I know some of you are from far away. But belive me, Palermo city is for me almost as far as for you. (But since I have converted my car on lpg, I am flirting with an idea to go on Italy tour, with Sicily as a goal.) Even if I don”t know any Italian and that Italians are famous to be multilingual nation :-). Only kids need to grow up up a little bit.
      Anyway, especially beacouse you are far away from Palermo I admire your faithfulness to the club. If I decide to go to Udine I will let you know. And of course you will be able to find me with Palermo fans part of Stadio Friuli. Probably swinging with Slovenian flag to support Iličić and Kurtić of course :-).
      Fozz- Ljubljana is not very night live city ( only 300 000 people live here) and I am a bit out of night live anyway. But of course there are a few different night clubs you can attend.

  4. haha can you imagine how much rossi would earn? We couldnt afford his wages even if we sold half the squad. I would come over to slovenia or sicily to meet you dude, its only a 2 hour flight but being as im self employed electrician i cant just pick and choose when i go over else id be in sicily every weekend.

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