EUROPEAN football expert Mark O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) runs the rule over Thursday night’s televised encounter from Serie A.
Palermo v Udinese | Thursday 19:45 | BT Sport
Cash-strapped Palermo bagged three wins in their final four Serie A fixtures of 2015/16 to avoid relegation but the Rosanero look likely to spend another season battling against the drop (W1-D3-L5).
Surprisingly president Maurizio Zamparini has stuck by 37-year-old Roberto De Zerbi despite the slow start – last term the trigger-happy owner made nine managerial changes and during his career the ‘Manager Eater’ has sacked over 60 coaches.
The hosts, notoriously poor travellers, have seen their Stadio Renzo Barbera fortress crumble over the past 12 months. The Rosanero have triumphed in just 6/23 (26%) of home outings since the start of last season and this term Palermo are the only team in Europe’s big five leagues yet to register a point at home.
De Zerbi’s charges have lost when welcoming leading lights Napoli, Sassuolo and Juventus ‘to nil’ before a 4-1 stuffing by Cagliari 10 days ago. That was the first of successive 4-1 thrashings as Roma sauntered to success by the same scoreline in Sunday night’s showdown.
It’s just one win in seven for Palermo now but arguably most concerning for the hosts is their inability to trouble opposition defences thus far. No side has fired in fewer attempts on-goal with an average of only four being taken from inside the penalty box.
At the other end, only Cagliari (168) have faced more shots than the Sicilians’ (159) – 101 of which were attempted from inside their penalty box. To make matters worse, an injury to Sinisa Andelkovic leaves an already decimated defence with even fewer options.
With the above stats available, it’s perhaps not surprising to see that no Serie A side has returned a worse shot ratio figure than Palermo’s 30.26% at this stage of the season. However, it’s not all negative…
Macedonian forward Ilija Nestorovski, who scored against Italy during the World Cup qualifiers, is back at full fitness and should start once again, whilst the Rosanero’s return of W4-D1-L0 when welcoming bottom-six sides since the start of last season deserves maximum respect.
Palermo notched 15 goals in those five fixtures and seeing as Udinese have recorded just three shutouts in 23 road trips since the beginning of 2015/16, I’d fancy the desperate hosts to get on the scoresheet here.
Udinese bagged their first success in six at the weekend, seeing off fellow strugglers Pescara on home turf. However, the Zebrette have W5-D5-L13 on their travels and W0-D1-L4 when visiting bottom-six clubs last season.
The guests have already made a coaching change this season and Luigi Delneri’s first two fixtures have seen Udinese score at Juventus in defeat and notch three goals against Pescara.
The Zebrette may have managed just two goals away from home thus far but in Cyril Thereau and Duvan Zapata, Delneri boasts enough firepower to hut opposition defences, especially a patched up Palermo outfit.
Neither side make particular appeal here but seeing as they’ve collectively kept just 7/46 (15%) clean sheets in home/away league games since the start of last season, I’d be more than happy to support Both Teams To Score at 9/11 (188BET).
Palermo v Udinese – Both Teams To Score (9/11 188BET)