Italian Serie A News, Results, Analysis and Features on Football Soccer

Frank Lopapa On March - 7 - 2012

Relegation Races: Parma Joins the Struggle

When we last left the relegation race, it looked as though there wasn’t much hope for any of the three teams rooted to the bottom. While that still may be the case for the bottom two, Lecce have gone undefeated in their past four matches which has left them only four points from safety. The biggest development so far, however, is that Parma have suddenly joined the race after a 2-1 defeat to Napoli last weekend.

Last season Parma finished mid-table on the back of some excellent performances from ex-Juventus strikers Sebastian Giovinco and Amauri (yes, Amauri), leading the club to salvation after a relegation scare. Although Giovinco has continued his fine form for Parma this season, results have gone otherwise. A 5-0 shellacking at the hands of Inter cost Franco Colomba his job, leaving Roberto Donadoni the task to right the ship. Donadoni started out well enough, going unbeaten in his first five matches in charge, including a scoreless draw against Juventus; however, the gialloblu have gone winless in their last three, most recently in the controversial 2-1 loss to Napoli. Overall Parma have only won two of their past fourteen matches while relegation rivals Lecce have won the same amount of games in nearly a third of the time.

Today, Parma hosts a struggling Fiorentina who will be without their leading scorer Stevan Jovetic; the Montenegrin faces about two weeks on the sidelines due to a thigh injury. This is a match both need to get a result from; for Parma, it is to get some distance between themselves and Lecce, and for Fiorentina, it is to make sure they don’t end up in the relegation slog too, as only two points separate the two sides. Fiorentina need to be careful as after the Parma encounter they face a tough away trip to Catania before hosting Juventus next Saturday; having Jovetic back for that fixture would be an immense help in staying away from the bottom sides.

Siena still find themselves closer to the bottom than they would want to be. A 4-1 loss away to Lecce looked to spell doom for the Tuscan side, and a loss the next week to Catania looked to confirm their status as a relegation candidate. However, they have been able to reel off two successive wins, a 4-1 upset of Palermo and a 3-0 victory over Cagliari, surprising results given their impotency in attack. The remarkable bit about Siena is that despite their position in the table, they actually have a positive goal difference, scoring two more goals than they have conceded,  a rare feat for a side 16th in the league; this just goes to show how dire their attack has been all season. If Siena were to show a bit more effectiveness in front of goal, salvation would become more likely with the league’s seventh best defense.

In other relegation news, Cesena’s dire form continues, as their fourth loss in a row came at the hands of the aforementioned Fiorentina last Sunday. The Seahorses look increasingly likely to be returning to the second division, having slipped below Novara to occupy dead last in the table. On the subject of Novara, the other team from Piemonte hired Emiliano Mondonico only a few short weeks ago with the hopes of inspiring a miracle salvation; however, the club fired him this week due to continuous poor results, and in true Italian style, have replaced him with the man he replaced in Attilio Tesser. For either side, relegation seems more or less a formality even if it is still only the beginning of March.

That leaves us with Lecce, whose form has turned around upon hiring Serse Cosmi with the hopes of helping the Pugliese side achieve salvation. The giallorossi had won two straight before drawing with Genoa in a match they were winning, being undone by a Giuseppe Sculli strike five minutes before time. Colombian striker Luis Muriel has been one of the main protagonists lately for the Salentini alongside his countryman Juan Guillermo Cuadrado, scoring three times in the past three matches.

Only six points separates 13th and 18th in the table, making each fixture for those near the bottom increasingly important as the season marches on. While Novara and Cesena seem destined for the drop, Lecce is trying their hardest to achieve a second consecutive salvation. Sides such as Parma and Siena are cautiously looking over their shoulders, making sure to avoid slipping into the final relegation spot. Then there’s Fiorentina, Bologna, and Cagliari, who will have every reason to start sweating if they cannot get results in the next few weeks.

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