Sunday was a depressing day for Palermo supporters. A day which started with so much promise and anticipation ultimately flattered to deceive as the Rosanero could only manage a draw against Sampdoria. On the face of it, this looks like a respectable result, but with their domination and with what was at stake, it definitely felt like a loss to the fans. It was a predictably nervous performance with such riches on the line and it took an hour for Miccoli to create the first spark of invention for their penalty. After the team conceded a penalty earlier on, the captain duly slotted his chance home and levelled the game at 1-1, where it would stay. Igor Budan’s open goal miss, five minutes from time, will go down as the key missed opportunity. But in reality, the whole 90 minutes was a chance gone, as the Rosanero never really got going and didn’t show what they are capable of.
The hunt is not yet over, but it is now out of their hands. Sampdoria’s winning streak has just finished and they will have to face sixth place Napoli on the last day of the season. Palermo will need to go to already relegated Atalanta and win to pile on the pressure. The ever-quotable Rosanero president Zamparini certainly still believes that they are in with a chance: ‘I am convinced Sampdoria will draw with Napoli, we will beat Atalanta and get into the Champions League.’ He can never be beaten for optimism, but it is not blind this time, there is a chance for this eventuality. However, the only thing that Delio Rossi and his charges can concentrate on is getting the win on Sunday and hope other results go their way. Their fate is now in the hands of lady luck.
There were some positives from Sunday. Salvatore Sirigu is proving to be the heir apparent for Gianluigi Buffon for the Azzuri. It was another confident performance from him today and he has grown tremendously since he was given the number one shirt. He is a fine example of what can happen if you take the opportunity you are given. His only blemish in the game was giving away the penalty, but he had little choice after his defence left him wide open. Fabrizio Miccoli was another bright spark. The offence seemed to flow through him and his tireless work hustling after the ball constantly put the Sampdoria defence under pressure. His 20 goals this season have been crucial and Rosanero fans will be delighted to know Zamparini has stated that he will see out his career at the Renzo Barbera. He worked the excellent keeper a few times and created the penalty with a neat flick.
Miccoli was substituted with 10 minutes to go, having injured in his knee in the challenge that resulted in the penalty, and his attacking presence was sorely missed as Palermo failed in their attempt to score a winner. He later left the stadium on crutches. There are some reports saying that he has suffered cruciate ligament damage to his right knee but the MRI scan results will not be known for the next 24 hours of the article being published. This sounds like a potentially serious problem but he will have the whole summer to heal himself. A tear could see him sidelined for a few months but fans will be praying that it is just a sprain and that he will be ready for pre-season.
What should not go amiss in the despair is that Palermo have gone all season without losing at home, a remarkable feat, which is rarely replicated. Such home dominance is a real benefit to the Sicilian club and can give them great confidence. The Renzo Barbera can officially be called a fortress for the Rosanero. The whole squad and coaching staff will be very disappointed by the result on Sunday but they will take heart from the fact they are not out of the running yet. Delio Rossi will focus them this week in training and they will go out on Sunday expecting a Sampdoria slip and they will be ready to pounce. They did have an excellent chance but they are a young team and will only grow from this experience. It is disappointing now but the future benefits of young players learning to overcome such difficulties will put them in good stead for the next campaign.