Last season’s runaway Serie B winners Palermo have enjoyed a very good first campaign back in Italy’s top flight as they look to secure safety without any hiccups.
Giuseppe Iachini’s charges, who sit 11th in the domestic standings, are enjoying a six-month unbeaten run on home soil, making the Stadio Renzo Barbera a daunting place to come for any visiting outfit.
On the opening day in August, Paulo Dybala’s solitary strike bagged a worthwhile point during a 1-1 draw with Sampdoria before Franco Vazquez’s goal ensured the same result up against Inter just three weeks later.
But after securing two good results versus tough opposition, they were brought straight back down to earth in a matter of eight days when Filip Djordjevic’s hat-trick inspired Lazio to return home with a 4-0 triumph and three points to boot.
However, that has proved to be their sole home loss so far all season, with Iachini’s men now on an unbeaten streak which began with victories over both Cesena (2-1) and Chievo (1-0) in October.
Dybala’s spot-kick wasn’t enough for a victory at the beginning of the following month as Udinese held the Rosanero to a 1-1 stalemate, only for Palermo to get back to winning ways immediately against lowly Parma (2-1) in their next encounter.
Sicily’s premier side then rounded 2014 off with a dramatic 2-1 success over Sassuolo, Andrea Belotti’s last-gasp finish proving the perfect Christmas present for their ardent faithful. And they continued that winning feeling into the new year by confidently dispatching struggling Cagliari 5-0 thanks to Dybala’s double, plus further efforts from Michel Morganella, Ezequiel Munoz and Edgar Barreto.
High-flying Roma then brought a stop to the Rosanero train from rattling on and racking up four consecutive home victories as Rudi Garcia’s men salvaged a 1-1 draw midway through January. But it was soon back to business for Palermo in February with a 2-1 win over Hellas and a famous 3-1 triumph against third-placed Napoli on Valentine’s Day.
Empoli, who were promoted alongside the Serie B champions last term, became only the second side to prevent the Rosanero from scoring on home soil when the Azzurri came away from the Renzo Barbera with a goalless draw earlier this month.
Despite that defeat to the Biancocelesti back in September, it’s been an otherwise pristine blueprint for Iachini’s troops, who will be looking to secure a significant scalp over Juventus when the league leaders take to the field in Sicily on Saturday evening.