Palermo 2-1 Juventus: Palermo pass around opponents early on, before Juve waste chances

February 3, 2011
The line-ups after Darmian replaced Balzaretti through injury on 10 minutes

The line-ups after Darmian replaced Balzaretti through injury on 10 minutes

Juventus were made to pay for their terrible start here, and lost the game despite dominating for long periods.

Delio Rossi made one change from the weekend defeat to Inter, as Sinisa Andelkovic came in for Ezequiel Muñoz. However, he was forced to replace Federico Balzaretti early on, and brought on Matteo Darmian at left-back.

Gugi Delneri made two changes – Leonardo Bonucci and Jorge Martinez were left out, and Andrea Barzagli and Alessandro Matri made their debuts. Delneri stuck to his 4-4-2 shape.

Juventus didn’t wake up until 20 minutes into the contest, by which point they were already 2-0 down thanks to goals from Fabrizio Miccoli and Giulio Migliaccio.

Great start by Palermo

Palermo were playing their usual formation and using their usual strategy. They sat relatively deep with seven men behind the ball, before breaking quickly through the two trequartistas, who always made themselves available for a quick forward pass and meant  Palermo’s transitions worked very well.

The five in the midfield for Palermo meant they were able to simply pass around Juventus’ two central midfielders with ease, which eventually drew Milos Krasic and Claudio Marchisio into the centre of the pitch to help out, though ultimately this meant that whenever Juve won possession, Krasic and Marchisio were crowded out when they tried to take the ball forward. Upfront, Alessandro Del Piero drifted to either flank to try and pick up the ball (he was receiving little service otherwise) and had a decent game, although this left Matri alone in the box, and he continually wasted good goalscoring opportunities.

Attacking stars

Javier Pastore was playing excellently, and Juventus were unable to deal with him. Felipe Melo played a lot deeper than Alberto Aquilani to make sure Juve’s centre-backs weren’t opened up easily by Pastore and Josip Ilinic running at them with the ball, but Melo didn’t manage to control the central midfield area on his own, and Pastore was dominant. His ball over the top for Miccoli’s goal was fantastic. The second goal was a simple header from a corner that Delneri (and in particular, Giorgio Chiellini) will be very disappointed with.

Juve’s best moves came when Del Piero combined with Marchisio, with very little inspiration coming from Krasic, and Aquilani struggling for room in the centre of midfield. Marchisio pulled a goal back after Salvatore Sirigu flapped at a Del Piero corner.

Line-ups after second half substitutions

Second half

The general pattern of the game continued into the second half, though Juve started to dominate to a much greater extent, even when considering Palermo were playing on the counter. Delneri became slightly more adventurous – Krasic and Marchisio pushed wider, and the full-backs came forward which often exposed Palermo on the flanks, since without wingers, the shuttlers on the sides of the midfield three were forced to come out to the wing.

Often, this meant that Palermo were caught out by Juve switching the ball from one side of the pitch to the other, where a Juventus player would arrive on the flank on the blindside. Juventus’ problem was simply that they didn’t have a finisher – Matri was having a shocker (though in fairness, he’d had little training time before this match) and the absence of Fabio Quagliarella, Luca Toni and Vincenzo Iaquinta was obvious. Even the horrifically out-of-form Amauri would have been useful here against his former club, but he’s been loaned out to Parma.


Palermo removed Ilicic to introduce Pajtim Kasami – he played deeper and behind the ball, giving Palermo an extra body in midfield and meaning they played with a four, rather than a three, which covered the flanks better.

Delneri moved to his alternative shape, a lopsided 4-3-3 / 4-2-4 with Marchisio shuttling between central midfield and the left wing, but the removal of Aquilani meant Juve had no creativity in the centre of the pitch and Palermo held out.


A battle of two very different formations. Juventus’ 4-4-2 suits their players well, but is often very easy to play against – you know exactly what you’re going to get, and a simple midfield advantage can often undo Juve. Their threat early on this season came from their wingers, who played high up the pitch and were very dangerous in 1 v 1 situations, but Krasic’s form has dropped alarmingly. That said, with a fit central striker, they could have got something from this game.

Palermo continue to impress, and their 4-3-2-1 formation still seems to get the better of opposition managers, who haven’t quite worked out how to line up against them. Four at the back seems natural, with a deep-lying midfielder, but then the onus is on the full-backs to push forward (with no direct opponent) which leaves the centre-backs exposed to the movement of Miccoli out wide, and a 3 v 3 situation when Pastore and Ilicic come forward.

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