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Julian De Martinis On July - 4 - 2011

The Challenge For FC Parma: Ressurection and Re-Emergence

It may not seem so now, but Parma was once a major protagonist in Italian football.  After financial turmoil and relegation a short few years ago, it may seem that the club is a far cry from the likes of Inter and Milan, but the truth is quite the opposite. As recently as 2002 the side won the Coppa Italia as well as the UEFA Cup: two competitions in which Parma were regulars in between the late 90s and early 00s.

Alberto Gilardino, Hernan Crespo and Gianfranco Zola were just some of the players who began to make a name for themselves whilst at the club, whereas Alberto Malesani, Carlo Ancelotti, and Cesare Prandelli all managed the club at one time as well. Since the side’s return to Serie A in 09-10, Parma have stuttered with mid-table finishes, but finally look to get back on track for next season with key summer acquisitions.

If the acquisitions can acclimate properly, that is, which is far from a given at the current Parma side. For one reason or another, attacking options seem to have faltered in recent times, with the notable exception of Amauri’s resurrection. Raffaelle Palladino could only muster three goals in his eleven games for the side this season.

For the rest of the attack, it was a similar story. Thirty-one appearances for Valeri Bojinov only begot three goals, and Fernando Marques didn’t manage to score once in thirteen appearances for the side. Amauri’s and Hernan Crespo’s relative success were about the only positive to a side that includes, if Sebastian Giovinco and Antonio Candreva are counted as advancing midfielders, no less than seven attacking stars.

In fact, last season was undoubtedly a disappointment for the squad which had an unequal equilibrium between talent and results. The squad boasted the likes of Crespo (now in his second spell with the club), Giovinco, Candreva, Palladino, and Bojinov, amongst other well-known names, but only mustered a mediocre twelfth place finish. Despite a healthy mix of promising youth and experienced veterans, the team could only truly gain form far too late into a rather eventful season.

It began with an opening day win that began a winless streak lasting nine matches. The rest of the year saw Parma flirt between big results and underwhelming displays: beating Udinese but losing to Brescia; defeating Juventus yet faltering against Lecce. Coach Pasquale Marino was duly axed late on and replaced with Franco Colomba to end the season on a positive note, including high profile wins over Palermo, Inter, Udinese, and Juventus (again) in a six match loss-less streak that begot eleven points.

The Ducali will look to build off of such form and make strides up the table for the oncoming season. Parma have attempted to strengthen their defense with the acquisition of outcast Fabiano Santacroce from Napoli, for example, and have also added Sampdoria’s Jonathan Biabiany on loan. Despite the wealth of existing attacking talent, the side faltered in front of goal last season; none of the players scored in the double digits, and only Crespo, Amauri, and Giovinco managed more than four goals. Thus the team will also look to keep the Brazilian Juventus player, who notched seven goals for the side in his short stay, in order to bolster their attack.

Twenty-year old Fabio Borini, once a Chelsea youth player, will also add to their wealth of attacking options. If any of the new acquisitions can fire consistently in front of goal, Parma can look to aim towards European places, where the side was once a staple. To return to the top where it once was, the side needs to hope that its mercato strategy pays off. Otherwise, Parma may remain as merely a fallen giant.

Julian De Martinis

Calcio, Azzurri, and Roma tifosi. Blogger, correspondent, podcast host (@LaMagicast). Lover of books, movies, wordplay, family, and a good cappuccino.

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