Palermo depleted for Spezia clash and the return of Devis Mangia
Palermo – Spezia
Saturday, February 22, 2014 18.00
Stadio Renzo Barbera
All things considered, last week’s draw against stalemate specialists Cesena was a very decent result and one that may prove pivotal come the end of the season.
It was a draw that came at a price though. The images of Michel Morganella’s head injury – both at the time and after the game – are not for the faint-hearted. Having suffered several fractures to his skull, it’s unlikely we’ll see Morganella again until Easter at the earliest – a loss we could do without at a vital point of the season.
The MOrganella injury was then followed by two debatable red cards.
Midway through the first half, Achraf Lazaar’s impressive performance was cut short after he received two dubious yellows for high kicks.
Then, right at the end of the game Enzo Maresca saw his marching orders for a two-footed lunge – despite making no contact with the player.
While you can argue Lazaar’s sending off was extremely harsh, Maresca was foolish to make such a reckless tackle. It’s irrelevant that there was no contact as it was dangerous play.
So, for today’s clash against Spezia, Palermo are without Lazaar and Maresca through suspension, with Morganella joining Andrea Belotti on the sidelines.
The squad has been announced and the starting eleven pretty much picks itself due to injuries and suspensions. It’s expected Edgar Barreto will return to the starting XI to lead the team but we’ll have to wait a bit longer to see him partner Maresca in the middle of the park.
The last time Palermo faced Spezia back in September, the Ligurian side were 1-0 victors in what turned out to be Gennaro Gattuso’s last as Palermo manager.
Today also sees the return of Devis Mangia to Palermo. He should get a decent reception from the Rosanero faithful following his stints with the youth team and most recently as first team manager in 2011. His tenure was at the height of the merry-go-round of sackings and hirings made by Zamparini over the past couple seasons.
Lastly, February was always going to be a big month with tricky away games at promotion-challenging teams (Empoli and Cesena). The club has come through those games and avoided defeat with a four point cushion intact.
But now the Rosanero need to kick on and put together a run of victories.
Spezia at home presents the perfect opportunity for Palermo to rejuvenate its title push and is the start of a run of winnable games against what are currently mid-table opposition.
Anything less than a win will be disappointing today, but like most of the games this calendar year, it will probably be a tight affair.
Goalkeepers: Fulignati, Sorrentino, Ujkani
Defenders: Andelkovic, Daprelà, Milanovic, Munoz, Pisano, Terzi, Vitiello
Midfielders: Barreto, Bolzoni, Di Gennaro, Ngoyi, Stevanovic, Troianiello, Vazquez, Verre
Forwards: Dybala, Hernandez, Lafferty