Double Eagle: Lazio – PalermoBy: LorenzoRosanero | September 24th, 2011
Protests, disappointment, calls for a new coach – these were things that many in the Palermo camp recall from the summer. What seems incredible is that these very things are currently problems in Casa Lazio as fans have showed their disapproval of Edy Reja despite the elderly mister putting them on the brink of Champions League qualification last season.
The other “Eagles” bolstered their team over the summer, ridding themselves of problem-child Mauro Zarate while bringing in veteran goalscorers and international names Djibril Cisse and Miroslav Klose to lead their attack. In addition to them, Lazio brought in Konko from Genoa to replace Lichtensteiner and signed former Italy international goalkeeper Federico Marchetti. All those acquisitions reinforce a team with good players like Christian Ledesma, Stefano Mauri and Hernanes in the midfield. If anything, the Roman club has shown how deadly it is with their romps in Europe (11 goals in 3 games) and holding title winners Milan to a 2-2 draw at the San Siro.
Yet, Lazio currently stands on 4 points after losing to Genoa at home and beating winless Cesena away. The biancoceleste will be looking for their first home win against Palermo on Sunday and Reja will hope a win shuts up his critics. Unfortunately, the ex-Napoli boss will have to do without Biava, Gonzalez, Mauri and Radu due to injury.
Meanwhile, Palermo has been experiencing quite the opposite. After all the dismay up until early September, the appointment of Devis Mangia has been a stroke of fortune for a team and city that was looking for some luck. Mangia has restored belief and hope in Palermo with his positive attitude, likability with the players and entertaining brand of high tempo calcio. Of course, wins against Inter and Cagliari while earning six points out of a possible nine to start the season help too. Yet, there is a long way to go and the match against Lazio provides Mangia with a real road test – a place where Palermo has habitually struggled for longer than minds would like to remember.
Bench: Benussi; Munoz, Aguirregaray; Acquah, Bacinovic, Ilicic; Abel Hernandez
Once again, the big question surrounds the status of Josip Ilicic. The Slovenian may start Sunday’s match from the bench once again after the terrific display of Eran Zahavi and the subsequent tantrum Josip put on after realizing he wouldn’t be playing. Without criticism, Mangia said Josip “needs to rediscover the desire to play calcio and entertain himself.” Wise words that seem to fit the bill regarding his recent slump.
The back line should remain unchanged while Bertolo and Zahavi may get their second consecutive start considering the good performances both put on against Cagliari. Barreto is a lock in the middle of the pitch while Della Rocca looks set to start once again. Acquah suffered whip lash during last game so perhaps Armin may see some action at some point. Regardless, it must be said that the biggest obstacle that Bacinovic faces is his own attitude. Up top, Miccoli will most likely play despite his grandfather’s recent passing (on Friday) and will leave after the game to be with his family. Pinilla looks like a slight favorite to start over Abel Hernandez.
Palermo will need to play with the concentration required for a full 90 minutes on Sunday if they want to take home any points. Sure, they got away with playing 80 minutes while up 3-0 against Cagliari but Lazio have the players who will punish the Rosanero at every chance they get. Devis Mangia has stated he wants “one Palermo” meaning a team that plays as well on the road as they do at home. If Mangia were to succeed in this aspect, he’d stand on near unprecedented grounds as the most glaring weakness of the Rosanero in years past has been their road form. It will not be easy but perhaps with new players and new determination comes a new way of playing and surpassing the psychological hurdles associated with “Palermo away”. The match against Atalanta in Bergamo did little to reverse the trend, but a win against Lazio would be a big step forward.
SIAMO TERRONI E CE NE VANTIAMOOOOO!!!!