Italian Serie A News, Results, Analysis and Features on Football Soccer

Lorenzo Vicini On April - 27 - 2011

Rosanero Roundup: Palermo Back On Track

During the months of February and March, a heavy cloud loomed over the Sicilian capitol. Gone were the days of free-spirited, entertaining football which raised the level of confidence amongst the Rosanero players to staggering heights. In its place was a team going through the motions week in and week out with each devastating loss slowly crushing the souls of each player in pink and black. The dark days have passed, though, as a bright light has burst through, bathing Palermo once again in the glorious, warm glow of winning ways.

Delio Rossi has restored the belief in Sicily and regaled the fans with a spectacle on the pitch. Maurizio Zamparini, the fiery president, confirmed the sentiment when he declared that Palermo have “returned as strong as before…this is my Palermo.” Yes, the Rosanero are back and shockingly enough, the objectives are still in tact.

Riding high after two positive results in both the league and domestic cup, Palermo faced an equally high-flying Napoli side - albeit one that has had success all season long. In addition to the normal fanfare and commotion that the ‘Derby delle Due Sicilie’ brings about, the match at the Renzo Barbera took on an even more special flavor. Saturday’s game marked the first time that Edinson Cavani returned to the place that launched him into the spotlight in Serie A. Given the way in which El Matador has exploded this year, there were doubts about how his return would be received. Would he be cheered or jeered? Yet, after only a minute of action, the question was answered when Cavani stepped up to the penalty spot after Cassani needlessly handled the ball in the area. Naturally, Cavani converted and his goal was met with a chorus of jeers even if the ex-Rosanero showed his class by refusing to celebrate.

The early goal normally would have been a fatal blow to the Palermo team from February and March. However, the current side reacted the way they had in the last two matches when they succumbed to an early goal: they pressed forward. It took a while longer than against Roma and Milan, but the Rosanero found the equalizer over 35 minutes later. And it was only fitting that Cassani would make up for his early mistake by sending in a cross to an onrushing Balzaretti who hammered the ball home on the volley.

Palermo’s persistence to attack after drawing level paid off shortly afterward and just before halftime. A beautiful counterattack inspired by a Pastore back heel flick allowed Migliaccio to penetrate the Napoli box. The gladiatorial midfielder readied his shot but was hacked down by the onrushing Christian Maggio. The ball fell to Antonio Nocerino who scored, but amidst the chaos, the goal was waved off and the referee would point to the penalty spot. A miss from the mark would have sent the Barbera faithful into absolute madness as Damato had already botched several calls - including not sending off Pazienza after his second reckless challenge while ordering Delio Rossi to the locker room with the ensuing ruckus. Cesare Bovo made no mistake though and his penalty conversion put Palermo ahead definitively.

The second half was mired in a tremendous amount of opportunities for the Rosanero to put the game away but each chance was wasted away - sometimes in grand fashion. Napoli absolutely had to get a point at the very least from this game in order to keep their fleeting hopes of a Scudetto alive. The Partenopei produced some good chances of their own, but on each occasion, the Palermo defense and Salvatore Sirigu were there to deny every one. As the final whistle blew, the Rosanero reacted jubilantly on the pitch celebrating with the fans not just due to the victory but to the awareness that the team was back on track.

The news only got better for the Sicilians as the day progressed. Palermo’s cousins from across the island, Catania, had managed to pull off an incredible 2-2 draw against Juventus. That result, coupled with the Rosanero victory, meant the gap between 8th place and 7th place was reduced from five points to just three. The importance of the spot remains the difference between European football next season or simply Serie A. With four games left to play in the league, the possibility of overcoming Juventus for 7th is much more realistic than it had been prior to Saturday’s matches. Delio Rossi was right when he stated that the team’s objectives - namely, European football and the Coppa Italia - were still alive.

Amidst all the celebration after the Derby delle Due Sicilie victory, one bit of controversy emerged. Javier Pastore, the talented Argentinian playmaker who has regained the magic that had been missing for a while, was interviewed after the match. Upon being questioned about his future and Delio Rossi’s future with the club, El Flaco delivered what many interpreted as an ultimatum of sorts: “Certainly if Rossi stays I think I’ll stay too, if he leaves, I’ll think about my future”. Yet, beyond any questions regarding his future, one thing is certain: the Rosanero players value Delio Rossi and recognize what he has done for this team. Perhaps Pastore was throwing down the gauntlet for Zamparini to make a decision for next season. Whatever the case may be though, Delio Rossi’s boys still have all to play for this season.

  • Rob

    As always I’m loving the Rosanero Roundup! It is fantastic that Palermo still have so much to gain by plugging away and getting the wins. Last year is was the duel for 4th spot with Sampdoria and every game of the last four rounds considered a final. Same again this year except with the Coppa where every game IS a final! Forza Palermo!!

  • Event Horizon

    Beautiful roundup, and i simply cannot express enough love for the pink n black shirt!!!!!!!!

  • Enrique Julian

    Great post about Palermo. Delio Rossi is the most appropiate trainer in this team, and it´s obvious that it was a mistake to send off him. And the season can be still saved with the Coppa.

    If you wantand you understand spanish, you could visit my blog, Futbol desde Italia, the only blog in spanish about Calcio, and give an expert opinion

    Greetings from Spain

  • Anthony

    So is this where all the cool kids are hanging out now? Anthony gets ditched again…

  • Ted

    So Palermo beat Napoli, then lose to Parma…typical Palermo.

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