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Big game in Sicily

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The match tomorrow evening at the Renzo Barbera in Palermo is sure to be contentious. Palermo and Fiorentina are two ambitious teams that are working to crack into (or expand) the "big 4" teams in Serie A of Juve, Roma, Milan and Inter. Also, the two squads often pursue the same targets in the transfer market, Palermo fans are still displeased with Zamparini for selling Luca Toni to Fiorentina, and there was quite a bit of speculation during the summer that Palermo captain and Fiesole native Andrea Barzagli was interested in joining the Viola.

Both teams have been slumping recently, though Fiorentina are in far better shape than the Sicilians. Martha and Steven have done tremendous work chronicling the slump and coaching change at Palermo.

For Fiorentina, the concern is that they sit one point behind Udinese and two points behind hated Juve in the table. Both of those teams have home matches this weekend that look winnable, Juve-Atalanta and Udinese-Sampdoria.

Keys to the Game

I put the picture of Montolivo up because he's going to be back in the starting 11 after serving a card suspension against Inter and a couple consecutive unimpressive performances before that. He needs to have a big game and play some of the creative passes out of midfield that were sorely missed against Inter.

Vieri is sick and did not make the trip to Palermo. Therefore Pazzini should relax and realize that he's going to get a chance to go the full 90. Hopefully he makes the best of the opportunity. Mutu says he's close to 100%, so hopefully he will have shaken off the rust that was so obvious against Inter.

While they have a lot of attacking options, Palermo have not scored many goals recently. Fiorentina are still dealing with many injuries at the back but at this point only Kroldrup looks to be out. However it will be a makeshift backline as Ujfalusi, Gamberini and Dainelli are all less than 100%.

Prediction

Palermo are a difficult team to beat at home. This year, their only home loss was in that entertaining early season game against Roma. Last year this match ended 1-1 thanks to a wonder strike from the Uruguayan Cavani in his first Serie A appearance.

A draw seems the most likely result, but I look forward to an open, attacking game. Here's hoping for a 3-2 victory for the Viola with goals from Mutu, Pazzini and Montolivo.

USTV

FSC, Delay, 8pm eastern Saturday.