Saturday night will host the first of two must-win home games to end the season for Palermo as Milan travel to Sicily, likely bringing the media circus which has followed them all season. There is constant doubt over Head Coach Leonardo’s future, yet, despite all their problems, the Rossoneri are still third in Serie A and have the ability to play some expansive and attractive football. Milan lost to fourth place challengers Sampdoria last weekend and the Rosanero will need to follow suit to keep up, especially as the Blucerchiati will face off against the league’s in-form team on Sunday, Roma. The race for the Champions League is very much still on.
Palermo will look to capitalise on the momentum gained from the late comeback at Cagliari last weekend. In that game they created chances and looked good going forward but once again the defensive frailties cost them. Focusing offensively, the Rosanero will have a choice to make about which two strikers to play. Fabrizio Miccoli and Edinson Cavani are usually the first choice but the young Uruguayan, Abel Hernandez, showed his promise last weekend when offered a start. In such an important home game, however, Delio Rossi will most likely give the nod to Miccoli who has been the top scorer this season and has been deadly at home. Pastore will support the front two in his usual trequartista role and will have Fabio Liverani behind him distributing the ball. Milan’s main weakness is in defence and this battle will surely be the key to the result.
Milan, however, will look to take the pressure of off what will be a fragile defence – particularly following Daniele Bonera’s sending off last weekend – with ball retention, using their fabulous attack to put Palermo under continuous pressure. One of the shining stars for them this season has been Ronaldinho, who has had somewhat of a resurgence under Leonardo. He will be looking to cause the Rosanero’s right back Mattia Cassani problems by constantly drawing his out of position. Knowing that any loss of possession means a surging Brazilian down the left wing, Cassani will be less likely to get forward for the risks involved. An attack containing Marco Borriello, Clarence Seedorf and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar as well, is a very dangerous proposition and Simon Kjaer and Dorin Goian will have their work cut out to contain them. They have done it before this season at San Siro, where they caused Alexandre Pato, Borriello and Filippo Inzaghi to all misfire. There will undoubtedly be some nerves in the defence with the latest performances, but they have been very dominant at home and should go in with confidence.
The home form of the Rosanero this season has been spectacular and they will need to call on the friendly surrounds of Sicily to help them once again. It is hard to know what to expect from Milan, whose loss last weekend effectively ruled them out of the chase for the Scudetto. They could either come out fighting to prove they are not done yet or fall by the wayside and accept their third place. Palermo will be favourites but will need to take their chances and show their superiority against a team who don’t need the win as desperately. If they are to recover fourth spot from Sampdoria then a win on Saturday night will be crucial. Delio Rossi will hope his charges’ youthful exuberance will have the edge over the wise heads of Leonardo’s old men.