For a fleeting moment on Wednesday night, it looked as though Palermo may be about to achieve a result from a hard fought contest. This moment came on the back of the equalising goal from Bacinovic and lasted for as long as the celebration.
Immediately from the kick-off, Alex Pato stormed down the field and should have won a penalty, signifying the demolition they were about to deliver. This goal poked the sleeping bear into life as Milan played some fantastically creative and enjoyable football, to the detriment of the Rosanero.
This young side were shown how to be clinical and how to take a game away from their opponent. The best thing Palermo can do is look at these tapes and not reflect upon their performance, which was better than Sunday’s, but watch Milan’s. The last half an hour was the football that Palermo are trying to achieve this season. They were shown the level they need to be at if they are to compete in this league, a high level but one they are very capable of achieving.
They were overpowered ultimately, Milan have the resources to acquire the likes of Ibrahimovic and Robinho but there were the signs of promise rising through the shadows of this humbling defeat.
Munoz was once again a solid structure in defence and provided stability and leadership for his back line at a very young age, which is hugely promising. He was beaten once by Ibrahimovic and once by Pato but other than that could not be faulted.
Balzaretti seems to be returning to the form of last season, making several surging runs down the left flank and continually finding space. His end product left something to be desired, but so did everyone’s, which proved to be a key difference between the two sides on the evening.
Pastore has once again had a week of continual speculation about his future as he has done for the last year or so but scouts would not have been impressed with him on his performance in this game. He barely made an impact as he was successfully marshalled out of the match by a decisive defensive effort. He was taken off five minutes into the second half with a knee injury and will surely be a doubt for the derby on Sunday.
Ilicic was also off colour and regularly looked uncomfortable on the ball but when he did find his usual self, he looked destructive and with a lucky break here or there he could have easily had a couple of one-on-one opportunities, which would have produced a different outcome.
As usual, if Pastore or Ilicic aren’t scoring, then Palermo aren’t winning. A surprising problem this season has been the lack of goals from their strikers which has led to a strong link between the club and want away Sampdoria striker Antonio Cassano. Sampdoria are reportedly asking the league whether they can cancel his contract due to insubordination. Unlikely as that is, it is highly likely that he will go in January. The president is fully behind this idea: ‘I would be really happy to bring another talent like Cassano to Palermo. I consider him a real Italian champion. Yes, I will try to sign him.’ Palermo are likely to be the front runners as they are so desperately in need of him and will open their arms to what has become a troublesome professional. He has courted controversy and has now fallen out with Roma, Real Madrid and Sampdoria, but due to his undeniable talent he will always get another chance.
This deal would make sense, they already have a formerly rambunctious forward in Pinilla who has not been a problem and has given his all on the field. Rossi is a strong coach and will likely be able to contain him. Plus, Palermo have now lost five out of their last six games and are in danger of letting this season slip away from them. It seems inconceivable to label a game a ‘must-win’ in November but Sunday’s derby closely resembles that. This team has suffered through a tough stretch of games with very little points to show from it. The pressure will firmly be on Palermo with Catania out to truly destruct this campaign.
With the ambitions of this club, the Sicilian match-up must be won by the Rosanero to stop the slide and create a positive atmosphere around the club. This team may have potential, but if they don’t start winning they will soon be labelled a failure, their destiny is in their hands.