Journeyman forward Fabrizio Miccoli will be looking to carry on his early season hot streak when the Sicilians host Serie A leaders Inter this weekend. Both sides were on different ends of late winners in Week 11, so both be looking for a more convincing display come Sunday. And Miccoli might just end up being the difference between the two sides after banging in six goals in his nine outings this campaign.
It’s been a turbulent career for the 29-year-old forward, but he seems to have settled down in Sicily and has found some real confidence to go with the undoubted ability he possesses. He endured troubled spells at Perugia and Juventus, before recapturing some form while out on loan at both Benfica and Fiorentina, before signing for his current club. Injuries were largely to blame for his disappointing first season at the Rosanero, where he managed just the eight goals, but now fit and healthy, the pint-sized striker has fired his way up the capocannonieri standings this term. Although he and his side drew a blank last week at Torino, Miccoli did give the woodwork a test after smashing a 20-yard drive against the crossbar, before the Aquile suffered late heartbreak at the hands of the Turin club.
It’s been a rather indifferent start to the season for Palermo, sitting in 10th spot in Serie A, scoring freely with one of the most feared striking partnerships in the league, but their problems at the other end have prevented them from climbing the table. Only the bottom four have conceded more and for a club looking to craft a route into Europe this just won’t do. Saturday’s defeat leaves them four points off seventh spot, and the last UEFA Cup place, so the Rosanero will be desperate for points, and fast, before they completely lose sight of that sought-after European place. However, Palermo boss, Stefano Colantuono will know that with his much envyed front two, in Miccoli and Cavani, who already have 10 league goals between them, the prospect of tightening up his leaky backline would make his side a real force.
This week sees the visit of Scudetto holders Inter Milan, who have recently found the healthy nack of scoring last gasp winners. Another unconvincing display at home to high-flying Udinese left the Nerazzurri’s Jose Mourinho looking to silence the unimpressed home crowd with his finger to his lips, after a stoppage time Julio Cruz header won them the match.
It’s all more pressure mounting on the Portuguese tactician and Rosanero Coach Davide Ballardini will be looking at this weekend as the perfect opportunity to bounce back following last week’s disappointment. The Aquile’s attacking intent might just be the formula to beating Mourinho’s men whose defence hasn’t been as rock solid as the Portugueseman would have liked when the side have been put under serious pressure. On the other hand, the Palermo boss will be just as weary of the counter attacking prowess Inter will have to offer with plenty of pace down the wings. With Ricardo Queresma and Amantino Mancini bombing down the lines and Zlatan Imbrahimovic offering power and quality up front, Ballardini won’t be too keen on fearlessly taking the game to the big guns.
It might well prove a difficult conundrum for the Palermo boss – play to his side’s strengths in attack, or go for a more negative approach in order to try tighten up an unsure defence. Last season’s fixture threw up a largely uneventful goaless draw and accompanied by all the events leading up to this match, the same scoreline might be on the cards.
Ballardini wil have influential midfielder Mark Bresciano to call upon again following the Australian’s suspension, but Antonio Nocerino misses out after his petulant slap earnt him a red card last Saturday.
Meanwhile, Inter will be hoping to welcome back a host of stars, including midfield powerhouse Sulley Muntari, to add that much needed energy and bite. Adriano looks set to miss out yet again following his on-going fued with the Biscione, and Walter Samuel will be hopeful of keeping his place safe in the knowledge of last weekend’s clean sheet after replacing the under-fire Nicolas Burdisso.>
With both sides a bit short on confidence and still trying to find their feet this season, it seems likely we’ll see a tight affair where a individual’s mistake or another’s bit of brilliance may prove to be the difference. Watch for Inter’s back four keeping a close eye on Miccoli, as any slip up would pile the pressure on Mourinho. With the Rosanero’s diminutive striker currently flying high, you wouldn’t bet against him coming up with the goal to decide it.