Palermo’s first victory on Sunday against Cesena has released the pressure over Beppe Iachini’s head for the time being, but now lies possibly the toughest test of the season – an away trip against champions Juventus.
The training camp based at Zamparini’s home in Friuli may have reinvigorated a Palermo side that looked all but emotionally crushed against Empoli. After Cesena levelled the scoring in Week 7 it seemed inevitable that Palermo would yet again fail to make the most of their opportunities on goal. But in that game there was something different, Palermo continued to apply pressure, Beppe Iachini continued to push his men forward and the three points were gratefully received. Palermo has managed to finally claim their first win of the season.
Palermo will welcome another consecutive start for the new partnership of Ezequiel Munoz and Pipo Gonzalez in defence after a solid display in their first game together. It will be interesting to see how the pair holds up against the likes of Carlos Tevez, Arturo Vidal, Andrea Pirlo and the rest of an extremely talented squad. Questions may be asked over Sinista Andelkovic and if he will retain his place in the backline after some dubious hands have caught Palermo out on penalty decisions twice already so early on in the season. The captain’s armband should be returned to its rightful owner Edgar Barreto after he missed out against Empoli and Cesena. The Paraguayan’s expertise and poise will be vital for steadying Palermo in the middle of the field, the central midfielder will most likely replace Ivaylo Chochev. Up front Andrea Belotti should be fit enough to play from the first whistle after fully recovering after a busy week featuring an international break and a substitute appearance against Cesena. That, of course, is only if Iachini opts for his 3-4-1-2 formation with Franco Vazquez pulling the strings behind Paulo Dybala and the young Italian international. Otherwise, a 3-5-2 would most likely relegate Belotti to a substitute appearance at some point during the match.
Opponents Juventus had held a 100% record start to the season until Week 7 after drawing 1-1 with Sassuolo. Great displays from Paul Pogba and Angelo Ogbonna were not enough to overthrow the side that finished last year one place above the relegation zone. If there were any facts to give Palermo hope, it would be this result combined with a disappointing 1-0 loss midweek away to Olympiacos in the Champions League that leaves the Bianconeri not as confident heading into the match. The winning goal in that Champions League tie ironically came from former Palermo man Pajtim Kasami. Most importantly, Massimo Allegri has taken his strongest XI which could benefit Palermo immensely in 4 days time. The Juventus starting lineup will most definitely be without stalwarts Andrea Barzagli and Martin Caceres as well as Romulo and Luca Marrone.
Regardless of the result come Sunday it would be difficult to imagine Beppe Iachini losing his job, but given the facts entering this game, is it too crazy to think about stealing a point away from home? Maybe Maurzio Zamparini’s talk of “lady luck” will finally turn up for the Rosanero and even a draw would be a fantastic result. These “big matches” are a welcomed return to life in Serie A. If Sassuolo could manage a point (albeit at home), why not Palermo? Facci sognare!