Palermo vs. Catania, Preview: Will the Sicilian Derby be the death toll for Palermo?

Tullio M. Puglia

Never get involved in a land war in Asia, and never go against a Sicilian when death is on the line. But always, always, take the time to watch the Derby di Sicilia.

It doesn't matter that Catania, in 7th, are eight points above Palermo, in 15th. It's of no importance that Catania can almost taste a European position, while Palermo are struggling to avoid relegation. What matters is which team can call themselves the champions of Sicily. And over the last five years, it's been Catania that have claimed glory in the Derby di Sicilia, having won all five at home, and lost just twice in the ten meetings.

Palermo, still struggling to come to terms with the fact that they've been the lesser side on the island over the past couple years, can take comfort in the fact that at least Catania don't perform as well away from home. They've yet to win on the road this season, although they've picked up three draws.

It's a small comfort, but the rosanero need to take what they can get after their 3-0 thrashing at Bologna last week, a match that saw them go down to eight men by the final whistle. It's unfortunate, too, after their win over Sampdoria that showcased the impressive talent of young Paulo Dybala. It's possible this match could see Fabrizio Miccoli, the hero of last season's 1-1 draw, return to the starting lineup, but with his desire to move away from Palermo, his derby spirit may be lacking.

Catania are unbeaten in their last four and see no reason to alter course, particularly against a depleted Palermo side. Alejandro Gómez will be looking to overcome last week's 2-1 win over Chievo Verona, in which the Argentine scuffed the majority of his chances. Fortunately Sergio Almirón bailed him out with a second-half brace. Rolando Maran will be counting on his ever-persistent attackers to make up for the loss of Gonzalo Bergessio, who is once again down with injury. But Gómez, Almirón, Pablo Barrientos and Francesco Lodi should be up for the challenge.

Keep an eye on: Gian Piero Gasperini. Last season's first Sicilian derby, won 2-0 by Catania, saw Palermo coach Devis Mangia sacked the following day.

Palermo Injuries and Suspensions

Abel Hernandez and Andrea Mantovan (injured); iÉdgar Barreto, Carlos Labrin and Samir Ujkani (suspended)

Barrento, Labrin and Ujkani all earned red cards against Bologna. Deserved or not, Palermo will be without two starters, including their keeper.

Catania Injuries and Suspensions

Blazej Augustyn, Gonzalo Bergessio, Marco Biagianti, and Fabio Sciacca

Biagianti was injured against Chievo, so more likely than not it'll be Mariano Izco that steps in. The real worry is the loss of Bergessio, who forms the front three with Barrientos and Gómez. Souleymane Doukara is the stand-in.

Match Date / Time: Saturday, November 24 at 8:45 p.m. local / 2:45 p.m. ET

Venue: Stadio Renzo Barbera, Palermo

TV: Sky Calcio 1, ESPN UK, RAI Internazionale

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