Palermo face a tricky test to kick off their Serie A debut. Are the Rosanero ready?
Palermo – Sampdoria
Sunday, August 31, 2014 19:45
Stadio Renzo Barbera
This is the return all Palermo fans have been waiting for. After 62 Serie B goals and a 462 day wait since the last top flight appearance, the Rosanero have returned. Palermo will once again represent amongst the best teams in Italy in Serie A.
It has, however, been a humbling beginning to the 2014-15 season after a 3-0 loss to Modena in the Coppa Italia. Palermo will look at reverting to a more familiar lineup for their debut return to Serie A. Their opponents Sampdoria walked through Lega Pro Side Como with a 4-1 win in the third round of the Coppa Italia. The men in blue will be expecting a win as they begin their third consecutive season back in Serie A.
One of the biggest questions in the offseason for Palermo centered around who will be the number one keeper this season. After Zamparini dubbed Ukjani “the future” it looks like a matter of time before veteran Stefano Sorrentino makes his move away from Sicily, his destination up in the air. With the transfer deadline arriving on Monday, Sorrentino’s situation is anything but clear. It’ll be telling who between Ujkani and Sorrentino gets the nod on Sunday.
Another transfer saga that looks to come to a close is Abel Hernandez’s impending move to Hull City FC after politely refusing to join Portugese heavyweights Benfica. It looks extremely likely ‘La Joya’ has worn the Rosanero colours for the last time after scoring a respectable 31 goals in 111 appearances for the club.
Sunday’s game will certainly be without a trio of new signings as Costa Rican Giancarlo Gonzalez, Brasilian Emerson and Danish Simon Makienok are all unavailable for the match against Sampdoria. Michel Morganella also looks set to miss out after still recovering from his injury he suffered earlier in the preseason.
Palermo look set to keep three at the back with Claudio Terzi and Sinisa Andelkovic replacing Coppa Italia starters Milan Milanovic and new-boy Zouhair Feddal. The midfield will see a debut league start for ex-Chievo rock Luca Rigoni. Star man Franco Vazquez looks to start after a great Serie B campaign revitalising his Palermo career under Bepe Iachini.
Sampdoria boss Sinisa Mihajovic is confident this season will be an improvement upon the 12th place finish last season. Palermo owned Emiliano Viviano will have to remember which team to follow onto the field as he looks set to make his debut after his third successive loan spell away from Palermo (previous spells include his hometown team Fiorentina and capital club Arsenal). The Blucerchiati have had an interesting summer losing key man Shkodran Mustafi to Valencia but have managed to reinforce the squad with players including former Catania main man Gonzalo Bergessio and ex-Parma midfielder Marco Marchionni.
The travelers’ line up looks set to make three changes from their Coppa Italia clash with: Emiliano Viviano, Nenad Krasticic and Gianluca Sansone replacing Angelo Da Costa, Pedro Obiang and Manolo Gabbiadini respectively. No place for goalkeeper Sergio Romero who is hoping to leave in the final hours of the transfer window.
If the Coppa Italia is anything to go by, Eder will be the man to watch for Sampdoria after scoring a hat trick in his first game against minnows Como. He will aim to shake the Palermo defense even further after their Modena encounter.
Historically, La Favorita was known as a formidable venue during their last top-flight run with Palermo securing the majority of their points at the Stadio Barbera. Palermo are proudly now the only team in Serie A in Sicily but will have to hit the ground running with a series of difficult early fixtures including Inter and Napoli. The return to top flight football may be a tough start for the ever optimistic owner Maurizio Zamparini. It will be up to Beppe Iachini and the team to keep last years momentum running as Palermo rejoin the best teams in Italian football.
Palermo line-up (probable) (3-5-2): Ujkani; Munoz, Terzi, Andelkovic; Pisano, Bolzoni, Rigoni, Barreto, Lazaar; Vazquez, Dybala.
Sampdoria line-up (probable) (4-3-3): Viviano; De Silvestri, Salamon, Gastaldello, Regini; Krasticic, Palombo, Soriano; Sansone, Okaka, Eder.