After a couple of disappointing draws, Palermo have shot back up the table thanks to a series of excellent performances capped off by a decisive win against direct rivals Monopoli away from home.
It has been too long since the last post on the site, but the Rosanero have looked like an entirely different squad shortly after the two draws against Fidelis Andria and Potenza. In fact, they appeared to be mired in a slump when they drew their third match in a row against another bottom table side in Paganese. But then, something clicked. First, Palermo thrashed a mid-table side, Taranto, 5-2. Goals arrived early and often with braces from both Gregorio Luperini and Matteo Brunori (obviously). Super sub Edoardo Soleri capped it off in stoppage time. Palermo followed that up with a 4-0 drubbing of Picerno. Brunori, again, bagged a brace and even Roberto Floriano scored a goal. The highlight of the match, though, was the eurogoal scored by Soleri – a 35 meter lob that was assisted by Rosanero keeper Alberto Pelagotti of all people!
It was a prolific scoring stretch – nine goals in just two games! In fact, the last time Palermo managed to score 8 or more goals in back-to-back weeks was in the 2014-15 season when they drew Atalanta 3-3 and then beat Cagliari 5-0. Palermo managed to score all nine goals in consecutive weeks at the Renzo Barbera. The last time that happened was even further back – in 2009. That was when they beat Bologna 4-1 and followed that up with a 5-1 win against Cagliari. After the goal party, Brunori moved into sole possession as top goalscorer in all of Serie C with 23 goals! The other significant event from the win was an unexpected loss by Catanzaro which reopened the path to a second place finish. All of a sudden, the match against 3rd place Monopoli was crucial.
Coach Silvio Baldini returned to the bench after missing the previous two with covid. An interesting anecdote: assistant coach Mauro Nardini was on the bench for the nine goal outburst which not only might signal him as a good luck charm, but also theoretically means that he might be the best “coach” in Palermo history based on points accrued and goal differential. Baldini trotted out primarily the same side that had been overwhelmingly successful over the last three matches, with a couple of exceptions: Jacopo Dall’Oglio replaced Samuele Damiani as a holding midfielder alongside Francesco De Rose and Soleri replaced Floriano in the front three behind Brunori. If Palermo needed to confirm their run of good form, it would need to happen on the road against a quality opponent in the biggest match of the season.
After an opening 15 minutes of mixed play, a cross from Maxime Giron caught the Monopoli defense off guard and Nicola Valente did extremely well to react at the back post with a half volley that went straight in. Monopoli woke up after going down a goal, but none of their offensive maneuvers led towards any serious goalscoring chances. Palermo came out of the halftime break firing. They had numerous opportunities to double their lead but couldn’t quite manage a clean shot. The Rosanero defense played attentively and quickly limited any Monopoli action to materialize. And then, in the 78th minute, that man made his mark on the match. Brunori gathered a ball with two defenders closely marking him just outside the box. He then split both defenders before floating a gorgeous curler into the far post, beating the helpless Monopoli keeper. Match effectively over. Brunori’s tally on the season now stands at a staggering 24 goals. Soleri scored a third before being rightly flagged offside. The final whistle arrived shortly afterward and Palermo earned a massive three points on the road against one of the division’s top sides. By the end of the night, Palermo would sit in second place behind winners Bari (having already clinched promotion to Serie B). With one match left on the season, before the playoffs, the unthinkable a few weeks ago could be a reality: second place and a key top seed in the playoff race for the fourth and final promotion spot.
- In just two days, Palermo jumped from fifth place into second place
- The writing was on the wall all season long (and beyond that honestly) but Catania were officially excluded from Serie C and all their results were scratched from the table. This was one factor for Palermo’s jump into second place as they had only played them once and were set to play them next week
- Catania’s exclusion means that Palermo will have a bye next week and then play their regular season finale against an already promoted Bari side with nothing else to play for whereas the Rosanero will want to hold onto second place
- Avellino lost against Bari this weekend which puts them in third behind Palermo by two points, albeit with a game in hand. They play Vibonese before ending away against Foggia
- Catanzaro are in fourth after losing 4 points from Catania’s exclusion but they play on Monday against 7th place Foggia. They finish out the season against 12th place Campobasso and already relegated Vibonese
- Virtus Francavilla have an outside chance of finishing second despite currently being in 6th place as they have three matches left: Turris, Foggia and Juve Stabia
- Monopoli’s loss to Palermo coupled with Catania’s exclusion officially puts them out of the running for second place as they now sit on 55 points with two matches to play
- At worst, Palermo will enter into the playoffs in 4th place, they can still finish in 2nd but they’d need help from other teams’ results in earning it
- Luperini and Giron will miss the Bari match after picking up yellows this weekend. More importantly, Brunori, Valente, Andrea Accardi and Moses Odjer need to avoid picking up a yellow in the Bari match or else they would miss the first match of the playoffs
- Brunori has scored a grand total of 17 goals in the calendar year of 2022, the highest tally in all of Europe alongside Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema – impressive