Maxi López 14, 32
More than three points was up for grabs in the fiercely contested Sicilian Derby between Catania and Palermo at Stadio Angelo Massimino. The game was telecasted in over 50 countries, with perhaps heavy interest from South America as a total of 13 South American players made an appearance in this game, primarily due to the strong presence of Argentinean players in the Catania squad. Perhaps Paolo Tagliavento was the apt choice of referee for this game as the hairdresser has earned reputation of being a no-nonsense referee after sending off two Inter players in the game against Sampdoria. The officiating for this particular game was excellent and the match was played without any controversies, ugly incidents or red cards.
One should not read too much into statistics and past games, but Palermo’s away form has been awful this season. They went into the game with a full-strength squad, with the exception of Dorin Goian playing in defence in place of Cesare Bovo. Catania had nothing to lose and they were certainly not afraid of high-flying Palermo, especially after beating Inter 3-1. The Elefanti pressed forward in opening few minutes and were rewarded as early as 14th minute. Maxi López capitalised on a horrendous mistake by Goian and scored to give Catania the lead. If Maurizio Zamparini has his way, Goian could follow his fellow countryman Cristian Melinte out of the club.
Just after the half-hour mark, the Rossazzurri doubled their lead thanks to another error from Palermo. Fabio Liverani gave away the ball in midfield for Jorge Martínez to pounce on and provide the assist for Maxi López. Liverani’s form has been erratic season. In many matches, his passing and vision is a great asset to the team, but at times he gives away the ball in midfield too much. His positives have overshadowed his negatives by and large, but today he was truly awful and was substituted on the hour mark.
From time to time, Catania put on a stunning display of team football. Their speed, movement and skillful interplay between midfield and forwards left the Palermo defence bamboozled. Maxi López could have easily scored a third goal if not for a solid Salvatore Sirigu in Palermo goal. The Rosanero came out strongly in the second half and tried to force their way back into the game as Catania defended deep. However, the goal never came due to lack of clear-cut chances. The lack of connection between Javier Pastore and Edinson Cavani was apparent. Fabrizio Miccoli had a poor day and was substituted by Abel Hernández on 69 minutes. The youngster added lots of pace to his team, but without any end result.
By no means were the Elefanti sitting on the two-goal cushion as they constantly launched counterattacks of their own through crisp passing. Captain Giuseppe Mascara was often in the thick of the action. Near the end of second half, he also made an important goal line clearance for goalkeeper Mariano Andújar to enjoy a clean sheet. Thankfully for Palermo, Napoli’s draw and Juventus’ loss mean that they still retain fourth place.