Goals galore has been the name of the game when Inter and Palermo go head-to-head. With explosive players in attack and unsettled backlines, recent encounters have triggered a handful of heart flutters for the players and their respective fans.
Reviewing the recent past, there is last winter’s 4-4 clash at San Siro, in wet and snowy conditions that saw lessons on how to be a poacher from Diego Milito and Fabrizio Miccoli, who bagged four and three goals respectively over the course of the 90 minutes, but additionally pointers on how not to defend.
If you glimpse even further back there is a 4-3 win for Palermo in Sicily, a 3-1 Coppa Italia Final triumph for Inter and a spectacular two-goal debut from Giampaolo Pazzini as the Nerazzurri came from behind to record a victory.
The most fascinating fact, though, is that during the most recent quartet of matches spanning less than two years, Inter and Palermo have both had a variety of different Coaches – Leonardo, Bortolo Mutti, Devis Mangia, Claudio Ranieri and now Andrea Stramaccioni having filled the hotseats – perhaps a factor in the chaotic performances from both sides.
However, the abundance of goals isn’t the real headline going into the particular match. The special ingredient on this occasion is the tactician who will be under the microscope on Sunday – Gian Piero Gasperini. The previously mentioned 4-3 loss at the very start of last season was the beginning of the end of his short and winless five-game tenure at Inter.
Now at Palermo, Gasperini has previously made little attempt to hide his dissatisfaction at being let go by the Nerazzurri, especially after their recent personnel and tactical changes – some of which he attempted to implement during his time at San Siro.
Rodrigo Palacio was top of the list on his transfer targets, while Wesley Sneijder was not in his plans as he wanted to keep Samuel Eto’o. However, Palacio did not arrive until the following summer and the Netherlands international is currently on the sidelines over a contract issue.
“Is there any regret? I probably didn’t arrive at the right time, with the deserved credibility,” he said in August, speaking about the 2011-12 campaign. “Now I see Giampaolo Pazzini, who was one of the reasons for my unhappiness, out of the squad. I also see Palacio. I see three-man defence, which is now everywhere – Juventus, Napoli...
“And I also see that in the end Inter finished sixth and they tried to camouflage it and fix it. I do not think that can be considered a reasonable position. I do not think I would have done the same, I don’t think I would have ended on 58 points.”
Indeed, Stramaccioni has implemented Gasperini’s favoured 3-4-3 formation with far more success, as the club currently stand four points off Serie A leaders Juventus in the standings despite a recent blip in performances that include losses to Atalanta and Parma.
Gasperini’s effect on Palermo’s form has perhaps unsurprisingly been up and down. His total record with the Sicilian club led by enigmatic President Maurizio Zamparini stands at three wins, four draws and four losses in Serie A, although a slight upturn recently has seen them win two of the last three in the League, including the crucial Sicilian derby over rivals Catania last weekend.
It is the perfect and arguably only opportunity at the rate these teams change Coaches that the former Juventus youth team boss will have to show Inter President Massimo Moratti whether he could have been a success if given time.
To predict what may happen on Sunday afternoon could well prove to be an exercise in futility, but with all the swapping, changing and background it looks unlikely that the rollercoaster between Inter and Palermo is going to end. Don’t bet on 0-0. With the added incentives of a man with a point to prove and a team looking to stay in the Scudetto hunt, it should be anything but boring.