Serie A Betting Preview: Palermo v Milan

Palermo 3.1, the draw 3.1, Milan 2.35

Milan need not wait for Halloween to get that haunted feeling. The ghosts of seasons past have been following the Rossoneri wherever they go this year – reminders of better days confronting Massimiliano Allegri and his team at every turn. With each defeat come unwanted comparisons with more successful AC teams of years gone by. With every missed pass or shanked finish come rueful memories of the former stars who would have done better.

Tuesday’s trip to Sicily is no different in that regard. Last season the Rossoneri ended a run of five consecutive defeats at the Stadio Renzo Barbera – a 4-0 victory representing their first success away to Palermo since 2006. They did so with a hat-trick from Zlatan Ibrahimovic, plus a further goal from Thiago Silva – two players who have since been sold to Paris St-Germain.

That was back in March, at a time when Milan sat top of Serie A – ahead even of unbeaten Juventus, albeit having played a game more. Palermo were eighth and very much in contention for a European berth. Prior to their meeting with the Rossoneri the Sicilians had claimed 30 points from a possible 36 at home, prevented from setting even loftier goals only by their miserable away form.

Suffice to say, this year has been a radically different story for both teams. Milan’s struggles in the wake of not only Ibrahimovic and Silva’s departures, but also those of other leading lights such as Clarence Seedorf, Alessandro Nesta, Antonio Cassano and Gennaro Gattuso, are well documented. Prior to a 1-0 win over Genoa on Sunday, a result which arrived courtesy of a goal that ought not to have stood, they had just seven points from eight games. 

Palermo, though, have been underperforming ever since their crushing defeat to these same opponents last year. After their humiliation by the Rossoneri, they would win just one of their remaining 12 games. Seeking a fresh start, the owner Maurizio Zamparini went out and appointed Siena’s Giuseppe Sannino as his team’s new manager in the summer. Then fired him just three games into the new campaign.

In his place came Gian Piero Gasperini – the former Genoa and Inter coach re-shaping the team into a 3-4-2-1 which has brought only modestly improved results. A defence which conceded seven goals in those first three games under Sannino has allowed just four in six under Gasperini, but up front the Rosanero remain underwhelming. Of their five goals scored since Gasperini’s arrival, four arrived in a single game against Chievo.

The team hope that void can eventually be filled by Paulo Dybala – an 18-year-old Argentinian-born forward signed for close to €10m from Instituto de Córdoba, who made his first start in the 0-0 draw against Torino earlier this month. But while he is still getting to grips with the Italian game, the onus falls heavily on Fabrizio Miccoli.

Last year Miccoli would have been a wise bet to score in a fixture such as this, a player who routinely saved his best for the big games. He led all players in Serie A with eight goals against top-six teams. This year, though, he has scored only three in total – all of them in that rout of Chievo. A cynic might also point that Milan do not look so likely to be among that top six this time around.

Instead, given Palermo’s improved defensive performances under Gasperini – plus Milan’s own struggles (Stephan El Shaarawy aside) up front, consider a wager on less than 1.5 goals in the game at 3.7. If you are looking for a bet in the goalscorers’ market then El Shaarawy is the standout choice. In the match market, I would be looking for the draw at 3.1.

Score Prediction: Palermo 0-0 Milan at 10.50.