The saying is, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do…” For Zeman’s Roma, that means to play well for portions of a match before losing the plot and the lead. How appropriate is it, then, that Palermo seem to have the same problem? Roma are coming off of two straight matches in which they had the lead, only to give it up and lose in the end. Palermo are coming off a game against Milan in which a 2-0 lead was squandered and although they didn’t lose, it certainly felt like a draw was as bad as a defeat.
Zemanlandia has yet to take off in the high-pressure cooker known as Roma. The characteristics of a typical Zeman squad are there though. Prior to the weekend’s games, the Giallorossi were tops in the league in both goals scored and goals given up. There are rumors of discord in the locker room and while that may be true, Zeman’s team is a byproduct of the players at his disposal. After all, Zeman’s back line is entirely new…not only to Roma but Serie A in general (Balzaretti and the newly-converted back Taddei aside). Nonetheless, he has a fearsome attacking force, with the evergreen Francesco Totti, Italy international Pablo Osvaldo and budding starlet Erik Lamela and a hungry Destro ready in the wings. As with any Roma side, though, the fans and the city demand instant results. After all, results that may have satisfied half the league last season, ultimately doomed Zeman’s predecessor Luis Enrique. Zeman is on the hot seat and the last two losses do little to help his cause. Adding to this pressure is their terrible home record (only one win) and the derby against Lazio next week, meaning that Roma theoretically have a must-win game on their hands.
Meanwhile, Gasperini has brought some steadiness to this Palermo side even if the wins still haven’t arrived. The team has a style of play and have looked very sharp as of late. Yet, the Rosanero are still struggling with the ability to close out games. It’s what has haunted them the most this season when you consider that games against Cagliari, Genoa and Milan could easily have been wins. The Serie A table is still very short but regardless of whether Palermo belong in the bottom three or not (there are worse teams in the league), the hemorrhaging of points needs to stop. Roma represent a more difficult matchup than Milan and it comes away from home. Gasperini’s men need an excellent game plan and even better execution. Naturally, that strategy will revolve around solid defense and a quick counterattack. Everyone knows that Zeman’s team will be the one dictating the tempo in this match. The holes they leave on the counter, however, will need to be exploited.
Probable Palermo Lineup
Munoz – Von Bergen – Garcia
Morganella – Kurtic – Barreto – Mantovani
Ilicic – Brienza
Palermo bench: Benussi; Cetto, Milanovic, Labrin, Pisano; Bertolo, Giorgi, Rios, Viola, Zahavi; Budan, Dybala
As with any Roma versus Palermo affair, there will be goals. It isn’t just because this is a Zeman match but Palermo have conceded a goal to Roma in the last 14 matches. It would be a miracle if this game were to finish without a goal. The Rosanero last beat Roma at the Olimpico on April 16, 2011 in an entertaining 3-2 affair. Many expect this to be a showdown between the two legendary captains, Francesco Totti and Fabrizio Miccoli, but if Palermo are to do well on Sunday night, they’ll need the role players to step up in a big way.
SIAMO TERRONI E CE NE VANTIAMOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!