Club Focus – Palermo – Liverani and Cavani boost Rosanero’s Europa hopes

With the international break done and dusted, Calcio fans across the peninsula can turn their attention back to the domestic scene and their respective team’s issues. Crunch time has arrived for many sides in Serie A with several clubs fighting throughout the table for different targets – the Scudetto, European qualification or the right to be in the league next season. There’s still lots to play for in the top flight of Italian football as we approach the business end of the season.

Torino07042009

The Rosaneri’s prime objective is to bag a place in the inaugural Europa League that is set to replace the UEFA Cup next season. European football hitting the shores of Sicily next season looks to be a real possibility but with many more strong sides in front and behind le Aquile in the standings there remains a lot of work to achieve that target.

Last weekend the Sicilians welcomed a Torino side that had yet to record a single away victory this term – the only team in Serie A to do so. Looking to salvage their season and with time running out, the club’s management sacked Walter Novellino last week after a dismal run of form that saw them pick up a mere five wins from 28 games. He was then replaced by fan favourite Giancarlo Camolese. Camo was brought back for his second stint, six years after leaving the club, and was left with the daunting task of changing the fortunes of this disappointing Torino side with only nine games to spare.

On Sunday he found out just how daunting of a task he has on his hands as i Granata again failed miserably on the road and succumbed 1-0 to a Palermo side who had to bounce back from their 1-0 defeat to Chievo last week. Palermo opened the scoring in the 52nd minute with a fine header from Edison Cavani after a well placed cross from Fabio Simplicio, and that goal proved enough to give the Sicilians all three points on the day and further improve their strong home form. Igor Budan, Roberto Guana and Mark Bresciano were out injured and Mattia Cassani and Cesare Bovo sat out bans for the home side. The score might indicate a closely fought game but it was anything but that. The home side dominated the possession of the ball in all areas of the pitch with Marco Amelia in the Rosanero net having been forced into making a save only once throughout the entire course of the contest. With such a great performance being displayed at the Favorita ground lets break down what went right in terms of the defence, midfield and attack and how the Sicilians can keep this play up.


This was definitely one of the Rosanero’s best defensive performances this season, limiting a goal-hungry Torino side in all areas of the pitch and forcing them to take just one shot all game. The centre-back partnership of Simon Kjaer and Moris Carrozzieri were absolutely solid throughout, with Kjaer putting forth a defensive display that you would expect from a well-established veteran of Serie A let alone a young defender making just his 23rd appearance of the season, further showing he deserves all the attention he is receiving from the big clubs in Italy and even more importantly showing the club’s management just how vital it is to keep hold of the young Dane. His defensive partner Carrozzieri was a true physical force winning every header that came into the box, dishing out numerous bone crunching tackles that seem to rattle the weak Torino attack. He was truly a presence out there and more than lived up to his nickname ‘The Beast.’ This type of performance would only solidify the interest he is receiving from Milan, a side in a dire need of a solid centre-back. Moris could well be a good fit on the Rossonerri defense. The full-backs Federico Balzaretti and Mirko Savini had a quieter afternoon with Toro attacking mainly through the middle and not exploiting the width of the pitch. Nonetheless Balzaretti was particularly involved throughout the attacking build-up supplying constant dangerous crosses.

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The midfield was definitely the place where the game was won and lost. Rosanero Tactician Davide Ballardini opted with four midfielders in the centre of the park lining them up in the diamond formation with deep-lying Fabio Liverani acting as the playmaker. He was flanked on the wings by Guilio Migliaccio and Antonio Nocerino, while Brazilian Simplicio played in his usual trequartista role just behind the forwards. This quartet of players absolutely dominated the entire game with the interchange of the ball between them something to behold and the fact that Mark Bresciano – probably the Rosanero’s most influential midfielder this season – was not in the starting line-up made this performance that much more impressive. Rosanero captain Liverani had by far played his best game in a Palermo shirt. He was truly a vital cog in the midfield on Sunday and Palermo fans had not witnessed such an impressive display from a midfielder since fan favorite Eugenio Corini was in the squad playing in a similar position from 2003-2007. Liverani displayed many of the traits that Rosanero fans have grown accustomed to seeing from the 37-year-old Corini in his prime week-in, week-out. Whether it is his specialty of delivering pin-point long balls and corners or his powerful, accurate dead-ball strikes, many Rosanero tifosi’s thoughts reverted back to the days of seeing Corini in a Palermo shirt. Ironically enough Corini was matched up on the opposition side but was nowhere near as effective, much like the whole Torino squad on the day, and was later subbed drawing an standing ovation like no other this writer has witnessed at the Barbera for many a year. The aforementioned Simplicio had finally displayed a solid 90-minute performance which he hadn’t done too often in his time with the Sicilian side. One huge flaw in the Brazilian’s game is that he often plays a solid 10-15 mins creating fast-paced powerful runs through the opposition backline creating havoc in the process, only to disappear for rest of the match, perhaps explaining the fact he is regularly subbed off. But the whole team was firing on all cylinders and the 29-year-old ex-Parma man was no exception setting up the winning goal with a splendid cross from the edge of the box that went straight to the head of Edison Cavani who roofed it into the top right corner of the net.

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If we were to point out one area of the pitch that didn’t have its best day it will most definitely be the Rosanero’s final third. A 1-0 scoreline will automatically get you to thinking it was a close game with very little chances for either side but the Pink-Blacks midfield was constantly supplying ammunition to the forwards who could only manage to fire blanks on most occasions. If Toro showed more creativity on the day they could most definitely have gotten something from this game as the Palermo attack wasted numerous scoring chances to further increase their lead. It was evident that one player in particular didn’t have a great game (probably the only player not to that afternoon). From a player who when fit and ready is most certainly a weapon for the Sicilians, Fabrizio Miccoli had a poor game which is certainly uncharacteristic for his high standards. He just didn’t look in the game, invisible for long periods of play and not showing his speed and willingness to run at the defence. His strike partner on the other hand is showing Serie A that he is just as much of a talented player as the likes of much-raved about Alexandre Pato and Sebastian Giovinco. Edison Cavani, still only 22, notched his team-leading 11th goal of the year tied for 7 th in the Serie A scoring chart. The Uruguayan’s biggest strength is his ability in the air, getting on to the end of dangerous crosses often supplied by the likes of Simplicio and Liverani. Sunday’s game is a prime example of his prowess of getting on the ends of those crosses. Credit goes to Simplicio for the delivery but nonetheless it wasn’t an easy play to finish off. One part of his game that needs improving on is his general shooting as too often on Sunday he was given great opportunities through on goal before pulling his shots wide or over the bar. If he can improve that part of his game he can become a regular 20-goal-a-season man.

What Rosanero Tactician Davide Ballardini must do now is to somehow manage to bring this type of good play to the San Siro where the Rosanero will play Inter (who all but locked up the Scudetto due to Juve’s slip-up to Chievo) next weekend. This is most definitely easier said then done due to the fact that a good Palermo display one game is followed by an absolutely horrendous one the next. The Sicilians have to break out of their nasty habit of inconsistency if they really want European football at the Barbera next year and what better team to break the habit it then against Jose Mourinho’s Inter.

League Table and Fixtures


Team

GP

W

D

L

GS

GA

GD

P

6.

Roma

30

14

7

9

46

42

4

49

7.

Cagliari

30

13

6

11

35

29

6

45

8.

Palermo

30

14

3

13

40

38

2

45

9.

Lazio

30

12

5

13

39

43

-4

41

10.

Atalanta

30

12

4

14

36

34

2

40


March 22 – Week 29 Chievo 1-0 Palermo – Luciano (45)

April 5 – Week 30 Palermo 1-0 Torino – Cavani (51)

April 11 – Week 31 Inter vs. Palermo

April 19 – Week 32 Palermo vs. Bologna

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