Derby di Sicilia is always a hotly contested affair, but there will be an added bonus when the two sides meet at Stadio Angelo Massimino. With Catania chasing European positions and Palermo fighting for their lives, the odds are this is going to be one of the most exciting derbies in recent history.
European dream still alive
Even if the team had been making constant progress ever since they returned to the top flight in 2006, not too many people expected Catania would impress this season after talented boss Vincenzo Montella left for Fiorentina. However, his successor Rolando Maran has been doing an excellent job ever since and his side are now in a position to fight for Europa League qualification. While the Elephants have been showing a lot of improvement on the travels, it is their amazing displays at Stadio Angelo Massimino that have remained the talk of the town. Even if they suffered several slip-ups against the top 6 sides at home, Catania were thoroughly impressive against the bottom-table sides, which gives them plenty of reason for optimism as they prepare for the derby clash against Palermo. On top of that, the Elephants will be almost at full strength after a number of important players returned to the side over the last couple of weeks, which is seen as an additional boost. With the hosts also in much better spirits than their opponents and clearly possessing more quality in the ranks, Catania do look the favourites for the win.
Full-back Pablo Alvarez is the only first team regular missing out through injury, while fringe players Francesco Sciacca, Adrian Ricchiuti and Pietro Terracciano are also out.
Bad time to be without Miccoli
After finishing the previous league campaign just few points above the relegation positions, Palermo were predicted another difficult season, especially as the club officials did little to properly replace a number of key players that had left the club during the summer. As a result, Palermo quickly slipped into the bottom three and they remain there with just six games to go. The Rosanero did close the gap behind safety thanks to a good run of results during the past few weeks, but fact is they will have to play a perfect game if they are to avoid defeat against one of the best home sides in the division that are also their biggest rivals. That may be virtually impossible now that key players Fabrizio Miccoli misses out through injury and top scorer Josip Ilicic is not fully fit having struggled with a thigh problem. Taking also into account team’s 1-6-9 away record and the obvious lack of quality to match the top table sides, they look to be in for yet another disappointment on the road. With Catania keeping two straight clean sheets and Palermo relying on inexperienced Dybala up front, the Rosanero are unlikely to score a goal at Angelo Massimino, let alone avoid defeat.
Fabrizio Miccoli and Andrea Mantovani both miss out through injury, but Josip Ilicic should start after resuming training on Friday.
Catania are a real force to be reckoned with at home and the fact this is a local derby is unlikely to change anything in their approach. Palermo, on the other hand, are without Fabrizio Miccoli, they are under a lot of pressure with relegation looming and they seem to lack the quality needed to get anything from this clash.
Top pick: Home win 2.20 (6/5) @ 888sport
Alternative pick 1: Under 2.5 goals 1.75 (3/4) @ BetVictor
Alternative pick 2: Catania to win to nil 3.70 (27/10) @ Coral
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