Juventus
    26.10.2014 03:43 - in: Serie A S

    Rosanero in the spotlight

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    Founded in 1900, and currently under the tutelage of Giuseppe Iachini, Palermo are enjoying their first season back in the top flight since winning Serie B last time out

    Club

    Founded in 1900 by Ignazio Majo Pagano, Palermo contested their inaugural match as a professional outfit in April 1901 as they ran out 3-2 victors over Messina.

    The Sicily-based club originally played with red and blue kits before switching to the current choice of pink and black in February 1907.

    The Rosanero first reached the dizzy heights of the top flight in 1932 after being crowned Serie B champions for the very first time.

    They were demoted four years later with the relegation allowing them to come up against arch-rivals Catania for their very first meeting in the Sicilian derby.

    Palermo were somewhat of a yo-yo club during the mid-1900s as they flitted between the top two Italian leagues. In the summer of 1986, they were expelled due to financial difficulty and re-founded a year later, winning Serie C2 at the first time of asking.

    The Rosanero played between Serie B and Serie C1 during the 1990s as they attempted to reach the big time once again. One particular high came in 1996 when they enjoyed a quarter-final run in the Coppa Italia, a competition they have never won thus far.

    Under the guidance of Francesco Guidolin a successful 2003/04 campaign saw Palermo crowned as Serie B champions and in the process, end a 31-year absence from the country’s premier division.

    Things got even better the following season as a sixth-place finish secured UEFA Cup football for the 2005/06 term. During the course of the year, ex-Juventus striker Luca Toni finished as top scorer with 20 goals to his name.

    On the international scene, four Palermo players including Bianconeri alumni Andrea Barzagli and Fabio Grosso were part of Italy’s triumphant 2006 FIFA World Cup squad, with the latter scoring the decisive penalty in the final shootout against France.

    Guidolin’s management ensured Palermo would once again qualify for the UEFA Cup after a fifth-place finish in Serie A in 2007, even though they were in with a shout for a Champions League berth after a string of impressive results.

    Following a nine-year stay in the top flight, the Rosanero were relegated to Italy’s second tier in 2013 after finishing in 18th position during a difficult season with many managerial casualties.

    Palermo, however, bounced back up to the big time at the first time of asking as they swept aside the competition with a record-breaking Serie B season, winning the league title with 86 points.

    Ex-Bianconeri striker Fabrizio Miccoli is their all-time leading goalscorer, having notched 74 times during a six-year spell in Sicily from 2007-2013.

    Stadium

    Palermo currently play their home matches at the Stadio Renzo Barbera.

    The venue, which is able to hold 36,349 spectators, was inaugurated back in January 1932 under the name of Stadio Littorio by a Palermo v Atalanta fixture which the Rosanero won 5-1. 

    Having seen its name changed to the Stadio Michele Marrone in 1936 and subsequently Stadio La Favorita in 1945, it has been recognised under its current alias for the past 12 years ever since the passing of legendary Palermo chairman Renzo Barbera.

    Prior to the 1990 FIFA World Cup, the stadium went under a period of redevelopment before going on to host a number of the group stage encounters.

    Transfer activity

    Experienced defender Sol Bamba arrived in the summer transfer window to try and shore up the Rosanero backline. The Ivory Coast international, who has 44 caps for his country, can count on vast international experience, having previously played for clubs in France, Scotland, England and Turkey. 

    Costa Rican centre-back Giancarlo Gonzalez joins on the back of a successful 2014 FIFA World Cup campaign with his country. The 26-year-old, nicknamed Pipo, dispatched a spot-kick during the round of 16 penalty shootout victory over Greece. He made his debut for the Rosanero last weekend, scoring the winning goal in injury-time as Palermo overcame Cesena 2-1.

    Former Italy Under-20 international Luca Rigoni swapped Verona for Sicily after making over 170 appearances for Chievo in six seasons. He has signed a three-year deal and operates as the defensive wall in front of the Palermo backline.

    Twenty-four-year-old striker Joao Silva joins from Bari after an impressive 2013/14 campaign in which he scored eight goals in 45 appearances. He began his career with Aves in his homeland before an unfruitful spell at Premier League side Everton followed. The last few years have seen Silva return to Portugal and try his hand in Bulgaria with Levski Sofia but he seems to have found his feet in Italy.

    Going the other way, Abel Hernandez has left for pastures new after spending five years in Sicily. The 24-year-old Uruguayan has joined Hull in the Premier League after helping the Rosanero to promotion last time out. Palermo will miss a player who already has three strikes to his name in his first five domestic games for the Tigers.

    Northern Irish forward Kyle Lafferty has also moved to England after a solitary season in Italy. Now plying his trade with Norwich in the Championship, the 27-year-old notched 11 times in 34 league appearances.

    Goalkeeper Emiliano Viviano, who spent last season out on loan with Arsenal, will play the 2014/15 campaign with Sampdoria whilst Igor Budan, Agon Mehmeti (now at Juventus’ Champions League opponents Malmo) and Nelson were all released after the expiration of their contracts.

    Current team

    Club captain Edgar Barreto has made over a centenary of appearances ever since joining the Rosanero in 2011. The midfield metronome is strong in the challenge and adept with either foot. Famed for his professional attitude, he is essentially the heartbeat of the side. Barreto announced his international retirement from the Paraguay national side following 60 appearances in seven years.

    Former Bianconeri youth team shotstopper Stefano Sorrentino has spent the last 18 months with the Sicily-based outfit. Having joined from Chievo back in January 2013, he has now established himself as Palermo’s number one. The 35-year-old has also played for Torino as well as AEK Athens in Greece and Recreativo Huelva in Spain.

    Swiss right-back Michel Morganella has been an important cog in the Rosanero machine for the past two seasons. Having never made an appearance for Palermo in his first spell with the club, the 25-year-old rejoined from Novara and has also featured on two occasions for his national side.

    A familiar face to Juventus fans, Enzo Maresca has played for some of Europe’s biggest teams in a career that has spanned 16 years. With Sevilla, Olympiacos and Malaga all adorning his impressive CV, the 34-year-old brings invaluable experience to a squad that will be looking to avoid immediate relegation to Italy’s second tier.

    Classy attacking midfielder Franco Vazquez is the man to watch out for on Sunday. Dubbed a classic offensive talent with technique and excellent vision, the 25-year-old has the power to hurt teams. He is already the club’s leading goalscorer this season with three goals in his first seven outings.

    Manager

    Appointed manager in September 2013 following Gennaro Gattuso’s dismissal, Giuseppe Iachini led the Rosanero to the holy grail of Serie A at the first time of asking.

    An ex-midfielder during his playing days, Iachini spent his whole career in Italy and made his professional debut in 1981 at the age of 17 whilst at Ascoli.

    He then went on to play for Verona, Fiorentina, Palermo, Ravenna, Venezia and finally Alessandria where he retired after 20 years in the game.

    Management came calling almost immediately when Iachini was named Venezia boss in October 2001 despite not being in possession of a coaching license.

    The subsequent season he moved to Cesena, spending a year with the Cavallucci Marini before leaving for Vicenza in 2003.

    After leading the Veneto-based outfit to mid-table in his solitary season with them, he was on the move again to take over at Piacenza. Three seasons and a fourth place finish later, he joined Serie B rivals Chievo and steered them to the league title in his first campaign with the Gialloblu. 

    Following a difficult start to life in Serie A, Iachini was sacked in October 2008 and spent a year out of the game before being appointed head coach of Serie B side Brescia.

    During a two-year spell in which he was relieved of his duties before being reinstated, the Rondinelle were promoted to Italy’s top flight before going down at the season’s culmination.

    Further spells at Sampdoria (including his third promotion to Serie A as manager) and Siena followed before he was announced head coach of Palermo late last year.

    After their slow start to life in Serie B, Iachini galvanised the club’s fortunes and guided them to the Serie B crown in May 2014 with five games to spare.

    The 50-year-old already has a job on his hands this season with the Rosanero languishing in the lower ebbs of Italy’s premier division, having picked up only six points from seven matches.

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