Palermo vs Lazio, Preview: Shot shy Sicilians face Roman test

Maurizio Lagana

Second from bottom Palermo host second placed Lazio in Sicily on Saturday evening.

While Palermo are flirting with relegation, Lazio are courting for the Scudetto and could go joint top with Juventus, albeit temporarily, should they leave the Renzo Barbera victorious.

Lazio come into the game in fine form. Currently unbeaten in 14 games in all competitions, it's in stark contrast to the home team. The Sicilians have won just three games all season, are yet to win on the road and have collected a solitary point in their last six outings.

The Rosanero are marooned in the relegation places by four points and will have their work cut out against Vladimir Petkovic's side, who are unbeaten on the road in over two months.

It's amazing that Gian Piero Gasperini is still at the helm, given how sack happy President Maurizio Zamparini has been. So far it's just Giuseppe Sannino who he has given a pink slip to this season. Italian media outlets have predicted Gasperini has two games to save his job. So far, Zamparini has refuted those claims, saying "this (game) is not a last resort."

Andrea Mantovani and Abel Hernandez both remain long term absentees through injury. Edgar Barreto misses the game through suspension, while Franco Brienza is expected to be passed fit to play.

Gasperini has been promised reinforcements, but thus far has had to make do with Napoli castoffs Andrea Dossena and Salvatore Aronica. With Igor Budan set to join Atalanta on loan, news of Milan Baros coming in from Galatasaray has gathered momentum.

One other man Palermo have been linked with is Lazio's Sergio Floccari. The frontman has caught the eye after a couple of solid performances in the Sky Blue shirt. Despite scoring a controversial goal in last weekend's victory over Atalanta, his half time introduction from the bench turned the game. With the news coming out of Rome that Miroslav Klose is struggling with a muscle strain and probably won't travel, it's almost certain that Floccari will lead the line for the visitors.

Alvaro Gonzalez, Michael Ciani and Andre Dias have all overcome knocks and will bolster the Lazio backline. Injury prone midfielder Ederson is nearing full fitness, but won't be ready for this game. Meanwhile, no suitors have opened the freezer door to let Mauro Zarate out of the cold.

Last season's 5-1 victory for Palermo in this fixture may be just a distant memory, but recent history is in the home side's favour. The Eagles have only won twice in their last eight visits to the Renzo Barbera, compared to Palermo's four victories and two draws. However, when the two sides met earlier this season, it was Lazio who ran out comfortable 3-0 winners at the Stadio Olimpico.

Palermo injuries and suspensions

Out: Andrea Mantovani, Abel Hernandez (injured) Edgar Barreto (suspended)

Lazio injuries and suspensions

Out: Ederson (injured) Miroslav Klose (doubtful) Mauro Zarate (frozen out)

Match Date/Time: Saturday 19th January 2013 6:00 p.m. local, 12:00 p.m. ET

Venue: Stadio Renzo Barbera, Palermo, Italy

TV: Sky Calcio 1, Premium Calcio (Italy) RAI Internazionale (U.S)

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