Set Piece Specialists

Maresca Dybala Barreto

Palermo claimed their third win in five Serie A games after overcoming a gutsy Parma in a 2-1 victory at home.

One of the most entertaining games to grace the Stadio Renzo Barbera in recent years featured three spectacular goals from Paolo Dybala, Raffaele Palladino and captain Edgar Barreto; two red cards for goalscorer Edgar Barreto and Parma’s Brazilian Felipe and a plethora of chances for both sides. In what was arguably the first match Palermo were expected to win this season, the Rosanero came through in a nail-biting encounter giving the team a respectable 17 points from 13 games and leaving a sorry Parma anchored to the foot of the table.

Confidence for Rosanero supporters was high on the announcement of the line up. A strong starting XI with only one change from Coach Beppe Iachini: Ivaylo Chochev making way for the returning Luca Rigoni. Granddi N’Goyi, Simon Makienok and Souleymane Bamba all missed out again while Francesco Bolzoni returned to make the bench.

Parma were once again without goalkeeper Antonio Mirante with 23 year old Alessandro Iacobucci taking the reigns in goal – the former has not featured since the 7-0 dismantling at the hands of Juventus. Former Palermo midfielder Afriyie Acquah also missed out whilst serving a ban, while Marco Cassani, Cristobal Jorquera, Adelkader Ghezzal, Gabriel Paletta, Jonathan Biabiany and Massimo Coda all complete a large injury list for the side that reached a Europa League spot last season…before an unpaid tax bill allowed Torino to take the spot from them.

Palermo: Sorrentino; Munoz, Gonzalez, Andelkovic; Morganella, Maresca, Rigoni, Baretto, Lazaar; Vazquez; Dybala.

Parma: Iacobucci; Gobbi, Lucarelli, Felipe, Costa; Ristovski, Galloppa, Lodi, Mauri, Gobbi; Cassano, Palladino

From kick off the eventual two red cards were almost expected with what felt like more fouls than passes as the match began. With both teams playing a back three, it was fast-paced back-and-forth possession and chances. Although the Rosanero looked the more comfortable side in possession, their high defensive line gave Parma several opportunities to take the lead. Fortunately the bottom side lacked the killer instinct to finish with Raffaele Palladino among those coming close.

If the red cards were predictable from the high volume of fouls early on, then so to was an opening goal arriving from a free-kick. As Parma’s defensive wall lined up to defend a shot from Enzo Maresca, the midfielder fooled the defence with a short pass leaving Edgar Barreto to provide a gorgeous flick into the path of Paolo Dybala. Feet from goal the hot prospect only added to his popularity by slipping the ball passed Alessandro Iacobucci and giving Palermo a deserved 1-0 advantage. It was an impressive team goal taken straight from the training ground and one that will be replayed over and over again for its sublime execution.

The lead lasted all of three minutes, though, when Raffaele Palladino once again broke the offside trap assisted by Antonio Cassano. Achraf Lazaar misjudged the initial long-ball and paced back to try and stop the shot but Raffaele Palladino smartly lifted the ball over the on-rushing Stefano Sorrentino to level the score. Moments earlier it could have been 2-0 after Parma were caught in defence after an Edgar Barreto interception, the Palermo attack finished with Dybala having his shot blocked.

The second half began with Achraf Lazaar substituted for Fabio Daprela. The Moroccan took a knock late on in the first half and seemed to be hampered by the injury. The second half began in the same vein as the first – the late first half goal reinvigorated a Parma side playing beyond their league position this season. Fluid passing and fast movement left Palermo second to the ball on several occasions. Stefano Sorrentino came through with some excellent saves to keep Palermo in the game.

Beppe Iachini made his second substitution with Andrea Belotti replacing Enzo Maresca. The change brought Palermo back into the game with the Azzurrini starlet vying for possession in the final third. Tackles continued to come in from both sides and with 25 minutes remaining Edgar Barreto received a yellow for a tackle on Antonio Cassano. The Gialloblu however failed to take advantage from the dead ball opportunity.

Eight minutes later Palermo were not so forgiving to their opposition scoring a second from the free kick position. Edgar Barreto swung in a cross which missed every head in the box including Iacobucci’s attempt to punch it clear and neatly hit the far post and went in. His celebration was halted as he checked it was his goal and not Andrea Belotti’s but it would stay with the captain.

Tempers continued to rise and Felipe was shown two yellow cards in three minutes. The drama heightened and Andrea Belotti could have sealed the game bursting through the defence, he cut inside after a solo run to shoot from an awkward angle rather than square the ball across goal. The miss proved to provide a heart-stopping finale. A late challenge from Barreto meant that both sides would have to serve the five added minutes of injury time with 10 men. Parma piled on the pressure but it was not enough as a gritty Palermo held out to claim another crucial victory.

The win moves Palermo into a mid-table security for the time being, four points from a European place and seven points from the drop zone. In my last article I said we would be doing well to pick up four points from Udinese, Genoa and Parma – in fact Palermo have managed five. A good run of form has been aided by a small injury list for the club. The next three fixtures against Torino (A), Sassuolo (H) and Atlanta (A) provides Palermo with a great opportunity to break into the top half of the table. Torino have struggled with the added weight of Europe this season as the team have failed to win at home in the last three fixtures – their last win coming in a 1-0 victory over today’s opponents Parma. Can Palermo add to their impressive five game unbeaten run?

6 thoughts on “Set Piece Specialists

  1. Thanks for the game review Andrew. Even though I’m not a huge Baretto fan I thought it was one of his better games despite the stupid second yellow card. Anyway, this leads to some possible speculation as to how we should handle our starters for the next game at Torino. Baretto’s expulsion means he’ll be out – Vasquez will also miss the game for accumulating too many yellow cars – and possibly Lazaar will miss the match with injury. It might be interesting to hear how you and others on the blog think we should approach our starting eleven for this match Saturday night ?

    • Thanks for taking the time to leave some feedback Jeff!

      As for the game I was glad that Belotti was given a starting place – there’s obviously a lot more to come from him and I think next season will be the most important for him if Dybala does indeed leave!

      I can see a new CM joining in January potentially, despite the options we have (quite a few!) there is still such an opportunity to improve in the centre of the field. Particularly now with the emergence of Munoz and Gonzalez working so well together, I think the reinforcements are less needed in def.

      • Agree on Belotti. I hope we have not rushed him.. he looked out of sorts at times v. Torino however his defensive header off our goal line was huge .. (saving a goal is as good as scoring one)

        Where do we go from here ? This might be a good topic over the winter break. Just two months ago everyone was saying our goal for this year was salvation – now some think we can grab a spot in Europe.

        My hope is we understand what we have before making any stupid moves. I watched Chochev ( who is 21 just like Dybala) lead the Bulgarian under-21 side over Russia. At times he controlled the midfield- wonderful distributor of the ball. Less than a year ago he was playing with CSKA Sofia and now he’s in Serie A – this can’t be an easy transition for the young man.

        Anyway – I hope the Barbera is jammed on Saturday – it should be. Forza Palermo !

        • I think its a tough run here on out, we have a run of 5 tough games in January-February. However we come through that will mark where we could be towards the end of the season.

          Belotti is my favourite player I have to admit so to see him score on the weekend against sassuolo was an even sweeter experience! Good to hear about Chochev, he reminds me of the situation we had with Zavahi actually. Do you agree?

          It would be interesting to cover those topics over the winter break and transfer window agreed!

          Andrew

          • Yes – bravo Belotti – really nice finish. It would have been disappointing to have settled for a single point. On Chochev – at this point in his career he is not the attacking midfielder Zahavi was. However, I think he is tactically more sound and very lucky to have Iachini as manager. In any case, he’s a nice surprise since few thought he would get this much playing time in his first year at Palermo.

            My real question to you and others is what’s up with Munoz ? It is my understanding that contract talks are going nowhere and his contract expires in June. Is that correct ? If so and Zamp won’t pay him more he could be moved in January. What are the chances of that …and if he goes – what then ?

  2. On Munoz you are correct so far contract talks are stalling. Personally I believe this is all a muscle move to get a better deal – we all know that Munoz is a key part of the squad – highest capped active player etc etc. But to play Devils advocate the Miccoli situation we continuously had with frustrating poor contract talks is always in the back of my mind when situations like these occur.

    I feel that he will stay but if he refuses it could be another Nocerino where we throw him to a top club for a quick few euro. If he does go its said Costa Rica’s Oscar Duarte could be the replacement.

    I can’t see too many changes I think it our biggest activity should be keeping Munoz, we need a stronger defence and his leaving will make it all the more difficult. Maresca’s performances have given us a reason to believe in our midfield again too, but I would still like some higher league quality – maybe a Parma player or two given their situation in comparison to their ability shown last year. Another story is Makienok and Bamba, apparently they’re both leaving. Makienok is the more debated though with the player pledging his loyalty on more than one occasion!

    January windows I find are all more interesting for league positions like Palermo’s currently!

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