One match left in the regular season for Palermo, one more opportunity to secure a better seed for the Serie C playoffs. Palermo currently sit in fourth place, on 63 points. At worst, they will finish in fourth place seeing as Virtus Francavilla and Monopoli sit joint-fifth on 56 points. Palermo are one point behind both Avellino in third and Catanzaro in second, both on 64 points.
On the final match day, Palermo face first place Bari at the San Nicola. On paper, that may seem daunting, but the Biancorossi are already promoted and really have nothing to play for. The Rosanero, however, need all three points to even think about second or third place and in reality, even that may not be enough. Why would that be the case? Well, it comes down to the matchups for both Catanzaro and Avellino.
Third placed Avellino play against Foggia, sitting in seventh. Today, Foggia won an appeal that restored two points to their tally that guaranteed them a spot in the Serie C playoffs. They can’t get higher than the seventh spot, but there is still a risk that they slide a little further from their standing as Monterosi (51), Turris (49) and Picerno (49) are all within striking distance. Of the two matchups of Palermo’s direct competitors, this is the one that offers the most hope for a positive result for the Rosanero.
As for Catanzaro, the second place side looks like a lock to keep their spot as they take on an already relegated Vibonese side. At least Catanzaro will have to play this match on the road, but that’s of little comfort to the Rosanero faithful. The only thing that helps is that historically, Vibonese have played Catanzaro very well at home. In the last five Vibonese home matchups between the two sides, they’ve never lost, with one win and four draws. Catanzaro actually drew Vibonese when the two sides met earlier this year. Maybe there’s a chance? Maybe?
The only scenario where Palermo ends up second is if they win at Bari and neither Avellino nor Catanzaro win their matches. If all three teams end up on 64 points (Palermo draw, Avellino and Catanzaro lose), Catanzaro would be second, Palermo third, Avellino fourth.
Nevertheless, Palermo will need to focus on what they can control. They need to continue the strong run of form and carry that momentum into the playoffs. And there’s more at stake than just momentum. If Palermo win against Bari, it would guarantee them a spot as the “best fourth placed team in Serie C” which is worth something in the playoffs (a post on that is coming later). A draw could also be enough for the “best fourth place team” as well.
So, here’s a recap of the scenarios:
- If Palermo lose to Bari, they remain in fourth place but are at risk of not being the best fourth placed team in Serie C if Pescara wins their matchup against Imolese in group B
- If Palermo draw with Bari, they cannot get second place and can only earn third place if one of Catanzaro or Avellino loses
- If Palermo beat Bari, they will be the best fourth place team in Serie C and then have a shot at second place if both Catanzaro and Avellino lose or draw
As for the actual Palermo-Bari match, Silvio Baldini will be without several players. After wrestling back the starting goalkeeper spot, Alberto Pelagotti recently underwent minor surgery and will not be ready for this one. Samuele Massolo should be ready to go although he suffered a knock to the head in the club’s friendly played against the youth team at the Renzo Barbera last weekend. The defense should see Andrea Accardi on the right, Edoardo Lancini and Ivan Marconi in the middle and Roberto Crivello on the left, given that Maxime Giron is suspended. The midfield is virtually a lock as Francesco De Rose and Jacopo Dall’Oglio should hold it down. Up front, expect to see Nicola Valente and Matteo Brunori despite both one card away from a suspension (that carries into the playoffs). If Baldini wants to play it safe, he could replace one or both with Andrea Silipo or Edoardo Soleri. With Gregorio Luperini suspended, it seems like Beppe Fella will take his spot while Roberto Floriano takes up his place on the left wing.
And just like that, the regular season is near an end, but there is still plenty to play for.