Roma and Palermo will be going all out for the win at the Stadio Olimpico, with both sides knowing they can’t afford to drop any points in the Scudetto race. With Inter speeding off into the distance, anything other than a win could spell the end of either team’s dreams.
The Nerazzurri are expected to win comfortably against Messina – the team they recently thrashed 4-0 in the Coppa Italia – meaning the pressure is really on the two other main contenders. While Palermo may claim that they are targeting a top four spot and nothing else, Roma must surely recognise their best chance of glory since Gabriel Batistuta and Co lifted the Scudetto five years ago.
That is certainly not something Coach Luciano Spalletti will want to let slip through his fingers. But unfortunately the Giallorossi will be without Gilberto Martinez, Matteo Ferrari and Alberto Aquilani through injury. Luckily the likes of Christian Panucci and David Pizarro are on good form so that shouldn’t be a major setback.
The big worry for Spalletti will be the knock to the players’ confidence caused by the humiliating 3-0 defeat to Lazio in the Rome derby last week. That drubbing could have a serious affect on the team in the coming weeks and the tactician will need to tread carefully to give the right levels of belief back to the squad.
There were no such troubles for Palermo in Week 15, as they ran out 3-0 winners against European hopefuls Livorno. That was a welcome win after the mini-crisis of defeats to Cagliari and Inter was followed by a goalless draw with the hapless Parma. But with a good win under their belts the Rosanero could be ready to upset the odds in the capital and keep pace with the League leaders.
Aimo Diana, Cesare Bovo, Fabrizio Biava and Franco Brienza are all out injured, but with the possible exception of Diana – who has Roberto Guana filling-in admirably in his absence – they are not serious problems for Coach Francesco Guidolin.
Plus, with both the players and the fans knowing that this game could effectively become a play-off for the right to challenge Inter in the Scudetto race, he knows he will have no difficulties with the team’s motivation for this match.
Man on fire: Fabio Simplicio (Palermo) – Despite the Brazilian’s excellent performances this season he had failed to recreate the goalscoring exploits he displayed for Parma last season. That is until his well-taken brace from midfield against Livorno showed he is still as deadly in the box as he is uncompromising in the centre-circle.
Last season: Roma 1-2 Palermo
My pick;x2 (over)
Roma (probable): Doni; Panucci, Mexes, Chivu, Tonetto; De Rossi, Pizarro; Taddei, Perrotta, Mancini; Totti
Palermo (probable): Fontana; Cassani, Zaccardo, Barzagli, Pisano; Guana, Corini, Simplicio; Bresciano, Di Michele; Amauri