14.04.2016 16:00 - in: Serie A S

      Opposition Watch: Palermo under Ballardini

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      With Davide Ballardini back in charge of Palermo three months after his winter departure, Juventus.com analyses how his second spell at the Rosanero this term could pan out in light of the first
      A point to prove?

      Wins over Frosinone and Verona and a draw with Lazio saw Davide Ballardini average precisely one point per game during his seven-match spell in charge of the Sicilian outfit between the end of November 2015 and start of January.

      While the first of the aforementioned victories came in particularly convincing fashion, finishing 4-1, they would go on to lose by comfortable scorelines in all four defeats under his stewardship, shipping a total 11 goals in the games with Juventus, Atalanta, Sampdoria and Fiorentina, with just one strike of their own to show for (against the Viola).

      Lazio aside, Ballardini will come up against exactly the same sides as he did earlier in the campaign, but with the added pressure of staving off the serious threat of relegation.

      That said, the club would do their survival hopes no harm at all were the 52-year-old to improve marginally on his previous points average – incidentally the second best among the six managers to have taken the Rosanero reins this season.

      Line-up look-ins

      Understandably, with five different managers to have entered the Sicilian side’s dugout in between Ballardini’s two spells in charge, there have been numerous alterations to the line-up over recent months.

      Taking the place of the injured Edoardo Goldaniga, Sinisa Andjelkovic has established himself as Giancarlo Gonzalez’ first-choice central defensive partner in recent weeks. Likewise at left-back, 18-year-old Giuseppe Pezzella has managed to maintain a starting berth even after the return from injury of Achraf Lazaar, who subsequently occupied a left-wing role last weekend against Lazio.

      Moving into midfield, Ivalyo Chochev is a player who’ll be hoping for more game time again, having been a mainstay under Ballardini but recently restricted to the bench with fellow 23-year-old Gaston Brugman more often than not featuring instead.

      Robin Quaison’s versatility has seen him come back in favour of late, playing on both flanks or even as a second striker, but his suspension this weekend opens the door for Macedonian forward Aleksandar Trajkovski to win back Ballardini’s faith, having started all but two matches under him in the winter.

      Gilardino (left) and Vazquez (right) remain crucial to Palermo's attacking plans.

      On a positive note for Palermo, competition for places up front is stiffened significantly by the return of Franco Vazquez, back from suspension, and the ever-presence of the experienced Alberto Gilardino in attack.

      Favoured formation

      In six of his seven games in charge of Palermo, Ballardini fielded a back four and on five of those occasions he set up his side in a 4-3-1-2, including in November's 3-0 defeat to Juventus (see the diagram below).

      Meanwhile, in his first match (against Lazio) Ballardini went for a 4-3-2-1, deploying two playmakers behind an outright centre-forward.

      These two almost identical formations saw all three of the frontmen available this coming Sunday against Juventus flourish to similar degrees. When including December’s Coppa Italia reverse to Alessandria, Gilardino netted three, Trajkovski two and Vazquez a further two as well as providing an assist.

      Incidentally, the only time in which Ballardini opted for a back three (3-4-2-1), against Hellas Verona, the Rosanero came away with maximum points and certainly crucial ones in the context of their current battle for Serie A survival.

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