Sicily witnessed a dramatically unfair result on Sunday afternoon, but this is, as many experts will claim, the nature of football. Palermo entertained the surprise run-away league leaders Lazio and outplayed them and yet still conspired to lose 1-0. The Rosanero had 61% of the possession and 28 total shots, with eight on target but just couldn’t break that final line.
At this stage of the season, the most important thing, it could be argued, is the performance. A performance like this should breathe confidence into this team and spur them on through the flurry of fixtures they currently find themselves burdened with. Results will have to follow soon but to play well and prove to themselves that they are capable will be a big boost to this maturing team.
Pastore and Ilicic once again continued their flourishing partnership but the only thing lacking was that final ball to penetrate the defence. Ultimately, Lazio as a team have to be commended for how they defended and never gave in. Palermo found out why they are currently top the table. This will likely be a good lesson, as they have encountered a squad with the mental resilience and never give up attitude needed to succeed. If Rossi can instil this mentality into his squad, they will definitely be pushing for their targets this year.
Rossi was ultimately happy with how his team played: ‘I can take nothing away from my side for the manner in which they expressed themselves today. We controlled the game for large spells, but when you don’t reap what you have sown, often in football the opposition will punish you.’
Eloquently stated, Rossi is aware of the teething problems he is currently facing with his young side. Technically, this team is very gifted but the lack of experience can hurt them, today was one of those occasions. A cool head was needed to stay calm and keep pressing, towards the end, the tension to grab a goal was palpable. This pressure to try and get the points they deserved caused them to force a lot of plays, which detrimentally affected them. This will improve throughout the season though and they should take a lot of heart from dominating the league leaders.
Palermo will now take this performance to Russia and face an incredibly difficult task to remain in the Europa League. They have dug themselves into a real hole with very underwhelming performances so far and will have to produce the best performances of this season to date to have any chance of remaining in this competition. This could however be a task on the back burner. The week after will see two games that would dominate all weeks and yet they have them both in a four-day span, away at Milan and then home to Sicilian rivals Catania. This glut of important games facing them in the next few weeks emphasises the importance of putting in a good performance. They will likely gain back some confidence after the last few weeks results and will push them on to reverse the slide that has befallen this team.
What might be a potential worry for the club is the injury for Abel Hernandez, which looks serious. Any time a player pulls up when innocuously running for a ball is a worry and is likely to be torn hamstring, which could sideline him for months. It has been a disappointing campaign for him so far this season, with him failing to make the most of the opportunity afforded to him after Cavani’s departure and Miccoli’s injury. This lack of development will be a worry for the staff and they will have to keep an eye out for the temperamental striker, as he will have to deal with the anguish of missing his first golden opportunity.
Although Palermo lie tenth in the table, they will be very aware that they do not belong there and will have the belief that they will climb out of this. Sunday’s performance will only reassure them more of this belief. They will need to translate this into points, however, and soon. It is likely that a weaker team will be fielded in Russia as a loss is expected with the match against Genoa next weekend more important.
They have now lost in three consecutive games. Winning is a habit but losing can become contagious and they will need to stop this slide soon to retain any semblance of a successful season.