FC Empoli vs. US Palermo / Serie A – After two-week long break for Christmas and New Year holidays the Italian Serie A continues this weekend with 19th round, which at the same time ends the first half of season. Two teams which struggle to survive from the beginning of season will meet in the first of two matches that will be played on Saturday. At the moment Empoli occupies 17th place and has 14 points, while Palermo has four points fewer and is positioned right below Empoli. Let’s add that last year the two teams played a goalless draw at the same stadium, while Empoli triumphed in Palermo by 1-0. Begins: 07.01.2017 – 18:00 CET
Empoli certainly dream about home victory over the guests from Sicily, especially as they would escape from them again at big seven-point difference. Empoli won all three points in the latest home match against Cagliari, winning it by 2-0, while after that they won none against Atalanta, when they lost one point in the latest seconds of the match, given they received the second goal in the fourth minute of stoppage time.
To make matter worse they even took the first lead at the beginning of second halftime when Georgian forward Mchedlidze scored. After that Kessi equalised in 74 minute at 1-1, while D’Alessandro inflicted them a deadly blow in 94 minute. Of course that coach Martusciello cannot be happy after such cheap defat, especially as every point is very important for Empoli in the survival race and because of that we expect that he instructs his players to start offensively against Palermo from the first minute. Let’s add that due to injuries still out of action are defenders Costa, Laurini, Zambelli and Pasqual, and midfielder Saponara, while freshly recovered forward Pucciarelli is questionable.
Probable lineups FC Empoli: Skorupski – Cosic, Bellusci, Veseli, Dimarco – Croce, Diousse, Buchel – Krunic – Mchedlidze, Marilungo
The guests from Sicily had been main candidates for regelation to the Serie B up to very recently given that after a dreadful series of even nine consecutive defeats were nailed for the bottom of standings. However, they played better in last two rounds and won Ganoa 4-3 away and drew with Pescara 1-1 at home, so at the moment they have one point more than Pescara and Crotone, while they closed in on 17th-placed Empoli to just four points difference.
New coach Corini is probably the most deserving for Palermo progress, despite losing first two matches upon his arrival, but he obviously has correctly detected problems in the team which resulted with winning of four very important points. Now, ahead of them is probably the biggest challenge yet, given they will face direct competitor in the survival race. We wouldn’t be surprise if they start bravely in Empoli, especially as injured stopper Rajkovic is the only one who is out of action.
Probable lineups US Palermo: Posavec – Cionek, Gonzalez, Goldaniga – Rispoli, Gazzi, Jajalo, Aleesami – Diamanti, Quaison – Nestorovski
FC Empoli – US Palermo PICK
Although this will be duel between two teams which scored together just 26 goals in preceding 18 rounds of the Series A we nevertheless expect that both of them play offensively and to win, as that is the only way to stay in the Italian elite football rank.
Pick: both teams score
Odds: 2.02 at unibet (down to 1.90 can be played)