Palermo - Roma
Stadio Renzo Barbera
Palermo - Roma
Focus for Palermo and Roma going into their weekend clash falls on the frontmen after the events of the past seven days.
Against Cesena, Fabrizio Miccoli netted his first goal since returning from a six-month injury lay-off and took midweek to speak of his growing trust in Delio Rossi’s Christmas tree formation, deploying Javier Pastore and Josip Ilicic behind him.
Miccoli had earlier in the season stated his reservations of fitting into the system but spoke glowingly of the number of growing opportunities and the link-play between the trio.
Miccoli’s return is timely with both Abel Hernandez and Mauricio Pinilla struggling. The duo sat out training in the first half of the week to recover from respective injuries alongside defender Matteo Darmian and all three will miss Sunday evening’s clash.
However, Fabio Liverani returned to training after almost two months out with injury. The midfielder is expected to start from the bench as the club look to stagger his comeback.
Roma are one of the League’s in-form sides and know a victory could see them back in the title race.
David Pizarro and Francesco Totti only had substitute roles midweek against Bayern and are likely to start at the weekend, Pizarro continuing on his return from a hamstring injury that caught the medical staff off-guard, causing more problems than anticipated.
Claudio Ranieri is without the injured Stefano Okaka, Rodrigo Taddei and Simone Perrotta still, whilst Nicolas Burdisso is suspended, with Juan coming back into the side.
After the Bayern turnaround, Totti advocated a switch to a 4-2-3-1 system to utilise the attacking potential of the team. Indeed the midweek game was emblematic of their season to date – a timid start being followed by an impressive recovery.
However, with only Jeremy Menez of the frontmen shown in recent games to track back, four men in attack could leave the Giallorossi light in defence and vulnerable to counters. It is unlikely to be seen at the weekend.
Keep an eye on: Josip Ilicic (Palermo) – Overshadowed by Javier Pastore’s start to the season, Ilicic’s introduction to Serie A was more immediate and makes his return of five goals and consistent performances alongside Pastore all the more impressive. Displaying a nice touch on the ball, Ilicic is more powerful than Pastore and just as interesting to watch.
Last five in Serie A: Palermo (L W L W W) Roma (W W W D W)
Last season: Palermo 3-3 Roma
Top tip: With creative points across both front-lines, the game could be an entertaining affair. However, an early goal for Palermo is key to unnerving a Roma side that has only scored five times on the road this season.
Stat fact: From 13 League games this season, Roma have gone in at half-time seven times on level times, compared with Palermo’s two.
Palermo (probable): Sirigu; Cassani, Munoz, Bovo, Balzaretti; Migliaccio, Bacinovic, Nocerino; Ilicic, Pastore; Miccoli
Roma (probable): Julio Sergio; Cassetti, Mexes, Juan, Riise; Simplicio, Pizarro, De Rossi; Menez; Totti, Borriello