Palermo have the chance to turn around their stuttering start to the season and put themselves on a winning path with three games in 10 days. On Thursday night they will travel to Prague to play Sparta in the opening fixture of the Europa League group stages. They will then host Inter at the Renzo Barbera on Sunday before travelling to Turin next Sunday to play Juventus. Good performances along with some good results will erase the bad memories of the opening rounds of both these tournaments and propel the Rosanero forward.
At the time of publication, Palermo will be returning to Sicily having played their most difficult game of their European group. Any positive amount of points will be a success here as Sparta are likely to be the other main contender for the top two spots. The players and coaching staff are looking at this game as a chance to improve their performances, Abel Hernandez pondered that: ‘A win in Prague could be the turning point for us.’ The Palermo squad is a very talented one and one that should be able to have some success in Europe. This might be the right time for the European fixtures to come, these players will suddenly have a lot of games under their belts along with the match fitness they crave.
Delio Rossi is full of confidence that the Rosanero can go to the Czech Republic and pick up a win: ‘It has been an intense week for us, we must learn to play the game of our lives every three days. We must work hard for our victory.’ It sounds like the hard training called for by this website is under way. The main priority is qualifying and so a win is not imperative but a loss will hurt. This competition not only offers a great chance for the squad to gain European experience but the financial remunerations steep highly throughout the duration of the tournament. Being there until March/April will be a big priority from the board’s point of view.
Once they start travelling back they will begin preparations for the arrival of the under-achieving treble winning Milanese giants. Inter travelled to Holland on Tuesday and only managed a 1-1 draw against the Dutch champions. Overall, they have made a rather subdued defence to both their major achievements last year, as the spector of Mourinho looms large. This is a club with sky-high expectations and one of the few clubs who won’t look at Palermo as a scalp. Last season the Rosanero were able to succeed against the “big clubs” as they were free from pressure and free from constraints, playing attacking and flowing football. Inter seem to be playing with no width this season, which will be beneficial for Palermo. If Maicon and Chivu or Zanetti stay back and predominantly defend it will allow for both of Palermo’s wingback to give width and plough forward, a favoured past time of Balzaretti’s.
Enigmatic president Maurizio Zamparini has said: ‘It will be easy to play them, they will want to play their game, which will leave us with space.’ His confidence is admirable and in a perverse way, he is correct in thinking that this is probably the best team for the Rosanero to face this weekend. Inter will be the team with pressure upon them and due to their start will be targeting a win here. Hopefully, for Palermo fans, this will be the incentive they need to re-ignite their fighting spirit from last year.
Obviously, only two games into the season, there are a lot of questions to be answered and can only answered by playing. But a rhythm is needed and a negative won can be formed quickly. By proving yourself in consecutive years to be capable of playing with the giants of the game then a rhythm of success and confidence can start to permeate through the club. An air that they belong and will not just be a feeder club to Europe’s elite. So these ten days will not make or break the season but it will have an impact on the pace of the club and which way the pendulum of momentum will swing.