Catania vs. Palermo, Preview: War declared in Sicily

Tullio M. Puglia

With Catania clinging on to faint hopes of Europe and Palermo now with a full hold on the prospect of surviving relegation, this is one of the games of the weekend.

Of all the derbies in Serie A, this one is probably the most colourful. And that's before even getting to the respective kits, when it probably becomes the most colourful in world football. An explosion of Sicilian madness, this game is played out between clubs from the two biggest cities on the island -- and isn't one that you should miss.

Catania will host the game at their Stadio Angelo Massimino, and will look to regain the pride they lost when beaten 3-1 at Palermo's Renzo Barbera earlier in the season. That day the rosanero delivered what was probably their performance of the season, though it didn't kickstart a revival -- quite the opposite. They've only won twice since then, with both of those victories coming in their last three games.

Now on a three match unbeaten streak, Palermo finally seem to be functioning. They've moved up to within a couple of points of safety, with the rehiring of Giuseppe Sannino -- having fired him three games into the season, then firing his replacement Gian Piero Gasperini twice, either side of the firing of Alberto Malesani -- seeming to have galvanised the rosanero. By some miracle, it seems the squad haven't yet become desensitised to the morale-boosting effect of the introduction of a new (or in Palermo's case, old) coach.

They will be hopeful of picking up a result against a team who haven't won in their last three, stuttering down to ninth place and falling four points adrift of the Europa League places. Still, Catania haven't lost at home to Palermo since 2-1. Unfortunately that day, it culminated with a policeman being killed in violence after the game, serving to reaffirm the tension between the rivals. "This is no time for nostalgia -- it’s war," said ex-Palermo and Catania director Pietro Lo Monaco before they met earlier in the season.

Catania will be without full-back Pablo Álvarez, while Fabio Sciacca and Adrián Ricchiuti are doubtful, as well as backup goalkeeper Pietro Terracciano. For Palermo, captain Fabrizio Miccoli will be their big injury absentee, though they're hopeful of recovering the in-form Josip Iličić. Defender Andrea Mantovani is definitely still unavailable.

Catania Injuries and Suspensions

Out: Pablo Álvarez (injured) In doubt: Fabio Sciacca, Adrián Ricchiuti, Pietro Terracciano

Palermo Injuries and Suspensions

Out: Fabrizio Miccoli, Andrea Mantovani (injured) In doubt: Josip Iličić

Match Date/Time: Sunday 21st April 2013 3 p.m. local, 9 a.m. E.T.

Venue: Stadio Angelo Massimino, Catania, Italy

TV: Sky Calcio 4 (Italy)



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