Tullio M. Puglia
Palermo and Atalanta both brought in a host of new players in the January transfer window, but will it be enough to ease relegation fears for the struggling sides?
Avid Serie A supporters are still waiting for Palermo to find their step. Sure, they had their struggles last season, but the squad shouldn't be this bad. Plus, Mauricio Zamparini has deigned to let Gian Piero Gasperini stay at the helm for a full four and a half months, despite the inability of the manager to lift the rosanero out of the bottom three. Palermo haven't won but three matches, the last against Catania, on November 24. And they've scored a measly 19 goals.
Interestingly enough, this week's opponents, Atalanta, have also scored just 19 goals thus far in the campaign -- but they've managed to win seven of their matches. Somehow. Perhaps it's due to actually having a defense. But la dea haven't been having the best of times recently, either. Their last win came against Parma, on December 8, and are now in 15th. However, by virtue of the sheer mediocrity of many of the Serie A sides this season, Atalanta are still five points above the relegation zone.
Both sides were active in the transfer window, although Palermo were more so, bringing in ten new players. Considering the rosanero's issues with, say, stringing together a coherent attack, or managing to defend for 90 minutes, a complete overhaul of the squad could be exactly what is needed. Rather than depend on Miccoli to play alongside young Paulo Dybala, Gasperini can now add Diego Fabbrini, Mauro Boselli or Mauricio Sperduti up front.
Atalanta, for their part, have swiped some of Palermo's players, including Franco Brienza and Igor Budan. Apparently Atalanta believe Stefano Colantuono can succeed where Gasp had failed, and will be able to coax goals from the attackers. He may have more luck with Marko Livaja, who was absolutely excellent in the one league start handed him by Andrea Stramaccioni. If Colantuono has the guts to use the youngster, it should pay off handsomely.
Palermo Injuries and Suspensions
Captain Miccoli and coach Gasperini defended their side furiously last week, after Cagliari scored the equalizer. The two felt the ball should have been Palermo's, and made that point a little too furiously to the referee, earning one-match suspensions.
Atalanta Injuries and Suspensions
Match Date / Time: Sunday, February 3 at 3 p.m. local, 9 a.m. ET
Venue: Stadio Renzo Barbera, Palermo
TV: Sky Calcio 4 and Al Jazeera Sports +7. Yep, that's it.