Miccoli 60, Budan 81
Earlier in the season, Palermo had condemned Ciro Ferrara’s Juventus to their first league defeat, and yesterday, Alberto Zaccheroni’s Juventus side were inflicted another league defeat by the very same Rosanero. The Sicilians have now captured fourth spot and stamped their authority as real contenders for Champions’ League.
On more than one occasion, the very vocal Palermo president Mauro Zamparini has voiced his desire to see youngsters Abel Hernandez and Javier Pastore be given more time on the pitch. Coach Delio Rossi obliged and lined up Hernandez alongside Fabrizio Miccoli with Pastore in the hold behind the forwards. With players such as Fabio Simplicio and Edison Cavani left on the bench shows that the Sicilians possess real quality and are doing something right.
The playing surface at Stadio Olimpico was exceptionally slippery and muddy and it was difficult for players to get good footing throughout the match. In such a situation, it was the home side that started strongly. Juventus dominated almost the entire first half, creating chance after chance. Fabio Liverani gave away the ball cheaply on a number of occasions and every attempt to build up the play through him failed. Momo Sissoko’s vastly improved passing along with Diego’s hard work allowed the Bianconeri to dominate the midfield and press forward. On two occasions, David Trezeguet and Antonio Candreva went close and almost scored. However, Palermo finished the half strongly with Mattia Cassani being a menace on the right flank.
Delio Rossi’s half time talk must have had an effect as the second half was a completely different affair. Palermo decided to take Juve by the scruff of the neck and started creating chances of their own. Miccoli’s outstanding strike gave Palermo a deserved lead and stunned the Old Lady. The concept of coming from behind and winning the game now seems alien to Juventus and it was apparent in the way they played. Palermo comfortably soaked up any blunt attacking threat they provided and launched dangerous attacks of their own. The FSC commentator made a perfect observation: “You can see the difference when Palermo come forward and Juventus come forward.” The Bianconeri’s poor night was rounded off by a horrible mistake by Zdenek Grygera on which Igor Budan capitalized and scored with virtually his first touch of the game.
Once again, Palermo played like an organized team and put on a display of efficient and collective team effort. There are no prima donnas, and the mixture of quality youngsters and experienced players is providing the right balance for the team. The statistics of eight shots, four on target and two goals boasts of an impressive efficiency. Although Hernandez contributed almost nothing to this particular game, he will need more time on the pitch to develop his abilities. Once again, Simon Kjaer and Pastore proved their abilities against a major opposition and are quickly becoming the hottest property in Calcio. Goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu will be enjoying his maiden Azzurri call-up as Marcelo Lippi requested his services for the friendly against Cameroon due to injury to Gianluigi Buffon.