Club Focus – Palermo – Back on track

The Rosanero corrected themselves on Sunday by returning to winning ways against a spirited Chievo side, in a match they dominated. In fact, the 3-1 score line flatters Chievo who could have been on the wrong end of a hiding but Palermo’s profligacy spared them their blushes. With the win, the Rosanero have kept hold of fourth place in Serie A, tied with Sampdoria, who now look to be established as the two contenders for the remaining Champions League spot. Palermo are on top due to their higher goal difference and while they would definitely have liked to increase that margin today they will be pleased by the performance and the result to go with it.

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Fabio Liverani, playing his customary defensive-midfielder role, had a fine game displaying his array of passing abilities and attacking prowess. The offence played through him, and as the attackers surged forward, he could pick out the open player and start the move flowing. The first goal came from increasing pressure on the Chievo defence, being forced further and further back they gave away a free kick. From the ensuing delivery, Liverani could pick out one of many attackers who had pushed forward, but it was Javier Pastore who rose highest and thumped his header in. The second goal came from the penalty spot after Chievo defender Manuel Iori felled Liverani in the box. A one-two with Pastore split the defence open, which left the defence vulnerable and caused Iori to make a desperate challenge. Miccoli duly converted the spot kick and gave Palermo a lead they would not surrender. Liverani also played a part in the final goal, receiving the dragged back corner to give Miccoli some space and let him blast in from 25 yards. These were just the three goals but Liverani infact had his hand in many of the chances that Palermo created and really showed what he can offer to the team going forward.

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Fabrizio Miccoli once again showed why he may well be in Marcello Lippi’s plans for South Africa. A coolly taken penalty and a long-range blast into the top corner show he is more than a one-dimensional striker. It seems he can score from anywhere and has proved to be a real asset for the Rosanero this year. His partnership with Edison Cavani and Javier Pastore means that they have rarely been held off the score sheet this season.

This result was very much expected but there is always doubt about how a team will react after a Derby loss. They showed no signs of nerves or any negative reaction from last week, even after going one behind early on. It would have been very easy for the players and fans alike to be spooked by the shock of conceding after starting so well. However, this Palermo side’s mental strength showed as they trusted their quality and continued to barrage the Chievo defence from all angles.

Head Coach Delio Rossi should be praised for instilling such strength in his side. It is a testament to the work he has done in the half season he has been at the Sicilian club. The players obviously believe in what he is teaching and also what he is trying to do with them. It is helped by the results that he has garnered since taking over from Walter Zenga but he has the players following him. The Stadio Renzo Barbera has become a real fortress for the Rosanero who are using their undefeated home record to prop up their European ambitions.

Sampdoria’s win against their local rivals on Sunday night will be a big boost and will give them momentum going forward so the pressure is now on Palermo to perform in their three remaining away games to show that they deserve the reward of Champions league football in Sicily next year. Much ink has been spilt about Palermo’s inability to perform away from home but they will be fully focused with only five games left and the aim is to win every one.

It is now one game closer to the penultimate round of the season, which sees the Rosanero hosting Sampdoria in what is likely to be a winner-takes-all scenario. Palermo will gladly take this game at home but to be in pole position for this they will need to win their remaining away games, starting with Cagliari next weekend.

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