Miccoli leading from the front in Palermo’s promising start

Along with President Maurizio Zamparini, Javier Pastore and Josip Ilicic took a large majority of the Palermo headlines last season for their terrific performances in pink. However, that was arguably because the Rosanero’s most influential player sat out almost half the season due to injury.
Palermo’s pint sized Puglian frontman Fabrizio Miccoli started only 17 games for the Renzo Barbera outfit in a season where the Sicilians never really kicked on. Good wins at home to Milan and Napoli and away at Roma and Juventus were littered by defeats to Brescia, Catania, Chievo and notably Udinese. Tellingly, Miccoli did not feature in 10 of Palermo’s 16 defeats, while three of the six defeats he did feature in were away at Inter, Napoli and champions Milan.
Fast forward a year and Palermo find themselves occupying a Europa League spot in fourth position after five games. Miccoli has started four of those games and his side have three wins, one draw and a defeat compared with 12 months ago when the Rosanero were in 14th place with one win, two draws and two defeats when Miccoli didn’t appear once in the opening five rounds.
This is perhaps not surprising considering the striker, shrewdly brought in to replace Andrea Caracciolo’s goals, has done just that, netting a very respectable 50 goals in 108 games during his first four seasons in Sicily, creating a further 23 for his team mates. The presence of the club captain in the Palermo side has visibly lifted the team but his goals and assists were missed equally last year, the Nardo-born striker managing nine and two respectively.
Miccoli has made up for lost time though, hitting the ground running with three goals and three assists to his name already this season. An instrumental performance against Inter, where two fabulous finishes and an assist for Abel Hernandez, saw his side clinch a thrilling 4-3 win in the opening round was followed up a fortnight later by a winning goal and an assist for Nicolas Bertolo in the 3-2 victory at home to an impressive Cagliari.
This weekend provides Miccoli the chance to extend his early season purple patch against Milan at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza if he is fit. Zamparini described Miccoli’s chances of playing as more no than yes on Wednesday but Palermo caretaker Coach Devis Mangia will be praying he is fit to continue his hot streak and go on to reproduce similar form like he did the 2009/10 season when he bagged 19 goals and created another eight in a campaign which saw the Sicilians almost reach the Champions League qualifying round.
Miccoli, who spent two years in the Rossoneri’s youth team, will once again be expected to lead from the front tomorrow night in Mangia’s favoured 4-4-2 formation. Since Milan’s 3-1 victory over Palermo last November, the Rosanero have beaten Milan in two of the teams’ last three meetings and can count themselves unlucky it was not three out of three given the way they played last time out at the San Siro in the Coppa Italia semi-final. With Milan in the form they are currently in, a meeting with Miccoli and Mangia could prove to be a magical one for Palermo.

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