Palermo vs Fiorentina, Preview: Viola favourites in shocking Sicilian colour clash

Gabriele Maltinti

Vincenzo Montella's side will look to improve their away form with three points at an ever-unpredictable Palermo

As long as you have a pair of sunglasses handy, this meeting between the pinks and the purples at the Renzo Barbera has the potential to be an enjoyable game.

Palermo may be just a place outside the relegation zone, but have arguably been considerably better on the pitch than their results suggest. Unfortunate to concede a late equaliser against Udinese in the last match, in their two games before that they suffered narrow 1-0 defeats to Inter Milan and Juventus.

They don't seem to be a side in realistic danger of relegation (famous last words), and providing they can work out how to score, they should be laughing all their way to mid-table. In an unusual break from recent history -- and an unusual break from the stereotypically cavalier Sicilian approach -- the rosanero's issues this season have been attacking rather than defending. Only Pescara have scored fewer goals.

Nevertheless, Palermo have shown occasional offensive capabilities, and when Gasperini's system works well -- as in the derby success against Catania -- it can be excellent to watch.

Unfortunately this weekend the Sicilians they their third top four side in four games in Fiorentina, and a side who have conceded the joint-fewest amount of shots in the division. Defensively, the viola even match the much-lauded Juventus trio.

Like his opposite number Gasperini, Montella's side are built around a back three, and have combined defensive solidarity with offensive excitement this season. Resident calcio nice guy Luca Toni has scored six times already, and should partner Stevan Jovetić in this game, feeding off passes from a midfield so creative it will have the Palermo fans wincing.

Recent history should provide enough evidence to warn the viola from becoming complacent, though. The Tuscans have won away in Palermo only twice in the last nine attempts, and have emerged victorious just twice on the road in eight attempts this season.

Palermo Injuries and Suspensions

Abel Hernández is out until the end of March in the latest addition to his never-ending injury list. The same applies to Andrea Mantovani. No suspension concerns.

Fiorentina Injuries and Suspensions

Ahmed Hegazy and Michele Camporese (injured). Ruben Olivera and Facundo Roncaglia (suspended).

Match Date / Time: Sunday, December 22 at 3 p.m. local, 9 a.m. ET

Venue: Stadio Renzo Barbera, Sicily, Italy

TV: Sky Calcio 3 (Italy)

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