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

Lorenzo Vicini On May - 25 - 2011

Rosanero Roundup: Palermo Pray To Win One Final Game

After succumbing to a loss to Chievo on the final match day of the Serie A season, Delio Rossi was asked if the result had him worried ahead of the all-important Coppa Italia final with Inter. The Palermo tactician replied with the typical wit and wisdom that has endeared him to the Rosanero population for two seasons now: “I would be worried if I didn’t know my team, instead I’m disappointed. We just have to reset and the lads know how to do that.” Palermo ended their Serie A campaign with a defeat, but the hearts and minds of the players were assuredly fixated on the last game left to play - May 29, Coppa Italia final. 

In preparation for the final, Delio Rossi and the players had consistently stated that the last match of the season would serve as a good test ahead of Inter. While many may have expected a quasi-reserve side to be fielded, Delio stood true to his earlier statements and put forward a largely first team squad against the Flying Donkeys. Fabrizio Miccoli made a return to the starting lineup in what could very well have been his last game at the Renzo Barbera in Rosanero. The Palermo captain had raised many eyebrows with comments he made on his Facebook page that sounded all too close to a farewell at season’s end. Miccoli joined Matteo Darmian (filling in for the injured Balzaretti) as the only reserves to earn a start.

At the outset of the game, it seemed that Palermo were honoring their desire to end the Serie A season with a victory. The Rosanero thoroughly dominated the run of play and were awarded for their efforts with a goal from Nocerino in the 14th minute. With Palermo in the driver’s seat, the Sicilians felt they could coast to the finish.

Unfortunately, while the Rosanero took their foot off of the gas pedal, Chievo took advantage. The Flying Donkeys found the equalizer four minutes before halftime with a fantastic counterattack that was finished off by the ever-present Sergio Pellissier. In the second half, goals from Kevin Constant in the 67th and Nico Pulzetti in the 80th ultimately sealed Palermo’s fate. The campaign ended with a loss while Palermo’s final position in the table was a comfortable 8th place.

Now, there are no distractions and all eyes are set on the historic match on Sunday evening. Delio Rossi is preparing his side for what will no doubt be a thrilling game with silverware on the line. The master tactician will be without Cesare Bovo and Armin Bacinovic due to suspension they incurred in the semifinal against Milan. Further question marks surround two key players who are currently hampered by injuries: Federico Balzaretti and Afriyie Acquah. News out of Sicily indicates that Balzaretti should be able to recover in time, while Acquah’s presence is still up in the air. It couldn’t come at a worse time for the Ghanese youngster as the absence of Bacinovic meant he’d be the frontrunner to take his place in the starting lineup. If Acquah is unable to go, Palermo will turn to the man who almost left just a couple months ago, Fabio Liverani.

As Palermo gear to towards the finale, the city is abuzz in wild anticipation. It has been 32 long years since the Rosanero last made a trip to the Coppa Italia final and they have yet to win it after failing in their two previous appearances. With no major silverware to the club’s name and a summer of uncertainty and departure on the horizon, a win would be a great parting gift for those on their way out. Transfer rumors and management speculation has been in the media for weeks now, but Palermo fans and players alike have hardly given it a listen. After all, Palermo Calcio has a date with destiny.

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