It’s tough to go into Turin with confidence, especially being a newly promoted side in Palermo.Historically, the Rosanero have given trouble to Juventus over the past few years. Nevertheless, going into the newly constructed palace of Juventus Stadium, the crown jewel of the Serie A, is a daunting task.
There are not many positive takeaways from Sunday’s match. Yet, the top one would be the emergence of Giancarlo “Pipo” Gonzalez. The Costa Rican international has been as good as advertised. Through two games he has proved his worth and arguably justified his transfer fee. Pipo is able to close on the ball and provide just enough body to hold up the attack and is usually able to make a tackle on the ball preventing any advancement of the play. His athleticism and acrobatic play is unmatchable in the backline.
The other positive is the welcomed return of Captain Edgar Barreto. The Paraguyan had some rust to shake off being that it has been almost three weeks since he has played competitively. His return aided the midfield but was unable to help the Rosanero win the possession battle, and he was eventually substituted off.
The beginning of the game saw back and forth play, eventually turning to possession domination by Juventus. Beppe Iachini’s side seemed unable to connect from the back line through midfield and up to the final third. The first goal came in the 32nd minute as Zouhair Feddal committed a poor turn over near midfield. Roberto Pereyra took possession and played a wonderful ball up to Carlos Tevez who took a couple quick touches before laying it off to the Chilean Arturo Vidal who slotted it home past Sorrentino.
The second half saw a return to the 3-4-1-2 formation as Il Capitano made way for Belotti to partner with Dybala up top. The play leading up to the second goal saw neat one-two passing between Tevez and Llorente, before Andelkovic put it out for a corner. Il Maestro, Andrea Pirlo, played a beautiful ball in only to see Fernando Llorente nod it past Sorrentino, making it two-nil to the home side. Yet, replays showed that Tevez seemed to be in an active offside position, blocking Sorrentino’s line of sight and subsequent effort to make the save. Nonetheless, the goal was awarded and Palermo seemed to have the life sucked out of them.
The final half hour saw scrappy play from the Rosanero in an effort to disposes the ball from the Biancaneri, whom were essentially playing keep away. Every time Palermo did manage to steal the ball away and push forward it would be a one-man show. The lack of assistance up top made it difficult for the Rosanero to get anything clicking on offense. To the pleasure of the Juve fans that were chanting his name at one point, Enzo Maresca, former Juventino made his first Serie A appearance of the year replacing Luca Rigioni at the 74 minute mark.
The last 15 minutes saw an onslaught attack from Juventus and a dangerous counter attack that almost ended in a goal for Palermo. In that exchange, the Rosanero worked the ball through the midfield and eventually found Paulo Dybala, who saw Gigi Buffon out of position and attempted a 45-yard miracle. The shot dipped at the end and almost made for a highlight-reel goal (one that is quite reminiscent of Miccoli’s midfield volley against Sorrentino years ago), but Buffon got back in time to snatch it.
All in all, it was a tough performance away from home, against one of Europe’s strongest and most successful teams. On the bright side, this is the Palermo that lost away to Empoli four-nil and only gave up two on the road to Juventus. Is it a moral victory? Perhaps. Here’s to hoping for better luck on the return trip to the Barbera. Palermo now must regroup and focus on a very tricky relegation tie against Chievo in a couple days.