It’s time for the Pastel Derby, which is totally a thing that we didn’t make up on this blog close to a decade ago. Those of you who remember the bad old days on the Offside will recall that this match-up always resulted in an inundation of Palermo trolls, but these days, it’s a bit less fraught for us over here.
The head referee for this one will be Piero Giacomelli, who also handled the opposite fixture last year in Sicily.
The match will be held on Sunday, 4 December 2016, at 7:45 PM CST/2:45 PM EST, at the Stadio Artemio Franchi.
It’s been a bumpy couple of weeks for the Viola. Losses in the Europa League to PAOK and in Serie A to Inter Milan have seen Paulo Sousa come under considerable fire from fans and media. There’s considerable speculation that the Portuguese mister won’t be back next season, but that’s looking a bit far ahead. For now, his charges sit in 9th place (with a game in hand) and badly need to do some soul-searching.
Sousa is expected to return Matias Vecino to the starting lineup. Despite his rough outing against Inter, Carlos Salcedo should feature at rightback again, although Hrvoje Milic’s horror show may finally mean that Maxi Olivera will get his chance. Sousa could use Salcedo in the middle and drop Nenad Tomovic on the right, but it seems that Sebastian de Maio will probably get the nod to replace Gonzalo Rodriguez (suspension) in the heart of the defense. Further forward, expect to see the usual attacking four. Keep an eye out for Josip Ilicic trying to score against his old team, too.
It’s been a typically Zamp-tastic season for the Serie A basement dwellers. Now on their third manager of the year in Eugenio Corini, the Rosaneri have just 1 win and 3 draws through 14 matches, hence Maurizio Zamparini doing Zampy things. Palermo is almost certain to return to Serie B again, not least because they have the youngest squad in Serie A, with an average age of 24.9.
Corini has an uphill battle, considering how many injuries he has to deal with. Goalie Leonardo Marson (leg), centerbacks Slobodan Rajkovic (leg) and Thiago Cionek (thigh bruise), leftback Simone Giuliano (leg), and wingers Aleksandar Trajkovski (ankle) and Accursio Bentivegna (leg) are all unavailable, although winger Carlos Embalo and striker Simone Lo Faso will be ready for this one.
Corini’s last stint as a manager was in 2014 with Chievo Verona. He generally used 3 at the back, alternating between a 3-5-2 and a 3-4-2-1. It’s tough to say what he’ll do this time out, though, as Palermo have been playing in a 4-3-2-1 for the past months. What we can expect, though, is for a defensive display; they’re the last place team taking a long trip with a brand-new manager. Their best hope is Macedonian striker Ilija Nestorovski will somehow find the back of the net, as he has 7 times already. Also keep an eye on club captain and former Viola man Alessandro Diamanti, who joined the Sicilians from Watford this summer.
How to watch
TV: Should you want to watch this one live on a real TV, we’d suggest checking your BeIn listings.
Online: Should you want to watch this one live on a computer, we’d suggest looking here for a full set of safe and legal streams.
Ted’s Memorial Blind Guess Department
Since surely even Fiorentina can’t bottle this one at home to an opponent who’s got the second-fewest goals scored in the league and has conceded the most, let’s call it 3-0 to the good guys behind a Josip Ilicic brace and another from Federico Bernardeschi.