In the shocks and surprises that rocked Serie A last Sunday, the fact that Parma became the only remaining team unbeaten at home this season has gone largely unnoticed. Mattia Perin’s masterclass against Fiorentina handed Pescara an unlikely victory at the Stadio Artemio Franchi and left the Gialloblu as the only side who have not lost a match on home soil in the current campaign.
The Ennio Tardini has been an unconquerable fortress for Parma this season, with victories over Inter and Roma coming off the back of solid stalemates against Fiorentina and Milan. Crociati Coach Roberto Donadoni hasmarshalledthe outfit to eighth in the table and six points off European qualification, but by far and away the most remarkable achievement has been their six wins out of a possible nine at home.
Donadoni moulded the side that picked up six successive victories at the backend of last season and has carried the forward momentum into the current campaign. The defence and midfield has a healthy mixture of youth and experience. The former Italy boss has brought in several promising attack-minded players, and the goals have also been shared around equally within the squad.
Former Juventus goalkeeper Antonio Mirante has the protection of three centre-backs with experience in Cristian Zaccardo, Gabriel Paletta and Alessandro Lucarelli. In the middle of the park the dynamic Marco Parolo and an energetic Afriyie Acquah have complemented the ageing Jaime Valdes. Meanwhile, Amauri has led the line alongside exciting youngsters such as Ishak Belfodil, Jonathan Biabiany and Sotiris Ninis.
The reasons behind Parma’s dominance in Emilia-Romagna may not only derive from a balanced squad. Everything from the strong presence supporters provide on match day, to the conditions of the pitch itself and even the fog that often permeates the Tardini are all arguments that have been put forward. In essence the club have an aura of supremacy at home, and away teams can sense it upon walking out.
Juventus will prove to be the ultimate test as they make the journey to Parma for Sunday’s encounter. The holding champions will be out to make a fresh start to the new year following a Mauro Icardi inspired defeat to Sampdoria. Donadoni’s men hold all the cards at home and will look to pull off another Bianconeri upset.