Palermo kicked off the season with a largely dull 0-0 draw, which lacked ideas and creativity from both sides. Given the Rosanero have two competitive games under their belt already, they will be disappointed with the result. The offence never really sparked as a well-organised Cagliari defence gave Hernandez, Maccarone and Pastore limited time and space. One major positive to be drawn from this result was the clean sheet. The defence had long been seen as the major weakness of this team, so, to successfully defend on Sunday will please the coaching staff.
Head Coach Delio Rossi is legitimately not jumping off the bridge yet: ‘The side is lacking spark, but, at this early stage in the campaign, it is understandable our condition is still not 100%.’ While this is definitely accurate, there is little doubt the fans were nonetheless expecting a little more harmony between players, despite the slight change in personnel from last season. But how should we rationalise the rather embarrassing spectacle of being undone by a very formulaic defensive arrangement of a back 7, popularized by Inter last season? There was too much aimless play, where the main protagonists would not think about their options. Countless times, left-back Balzaretti would just swing his boot through the ball with his back to the team. They interacted with each other like strangers, which will be the most worrying thing for Rossi. What they need is for the international break not to take their key players away this week, but – obviously – it is to be hoped some progress will be made before that.
You could blame the poor passages of the game on Cagliari’s negative tactics. Pastore was definitely frustrated at this: ‘They defended behind the ball and it was very difficult to find space in the penalty area.’ Cagliari are a team looking to avoid relegation and, on opening day, faced opponents who are not only in European competition but did not lose a single game while at home last season. They are naturally not going to let Palermo have it all their own way and one expects they will not be the only ones doing so. Worryingly enough, if the Rosanero were to keep struggling against these kind of teams, then they had better prepare for a long season. However, one of the best ways to get past strenuously defensive formations is to be clinical. Simply seizing the first chance to score will cause the opposition to break ranks with a view to grabbing an equaliser. True, this is easier said than done but they need to be aware they will be seen as a scalp for many clubs from now on and therefore will be expected to perform like the Champions League greats they want to be.
On a European level, due to an excellent result in the first leg, Palermo, are through to the Group Stage of the Europa League, where all the financial benefits of European football await. On Friday, they were drawn with CSKA, Sparta Prague and Lausanne, a difficult set of ties. Needing to finish in the top two of the group to progress, the Rosanero should be reasonably confident they can go forward but the depth of the squad will once again be an issue when fighting on two fronts. As Pastore admitted: ‘We were a bit tired from the match against Maribor last week, and it showed.’ This is still August and the team are already showing signs of strain and fatigue?
With no transfers seemingly in place so close to the deadline, fans should be quite concerned about injuries potentially derailing the upcoming season. All it would take would be three injuries to key players to reveal the youthful underbelly of the Palermo side. At some point, during the season, this will happen: when it comes to the crunch, we will then see whether these youngsters can sink or swim.
Be that as it may, at this stage, it is not at all clear what Zamparini should do before the transfer deadline. The squad obviously needs bolstering since there is currently excessive reliance on some of its main assets. But with no sign of any squad-gelling in sight, it is well likely that new additions will actually prolong and not avert the occurrence of more disrupted performances. It was mentioned on this website how Palermo would need a fast start if they were to challenge for the Champions League places. After Round 1, the Rosanero have done anything but.