Coppa Italia: Third Round / Team rating: [6/10] / Top scorer: Gervinho (10) / Europe: N/A
Parma completed the job with three consecutive promotions and mid-table Serie A safety, writes Mads Hansen.
Parma back in business
The days of UEFA Cup glory, Hernan Crespo, Faustino Asprilla et al are long gone, but as it is, Parma will be delighted to feature in next season’s Serie A, where they - and many fans of vintage 90s calcio – feel they belong.
In 2015 Parma went bankrupt and were forced to start again in Serie D. Reborn as Parma Calcio 1913, they shot straight up through Serie C and B, without pausing for a single season.
Nothing more than survival could be asked this time around and they secured this in the penultimate weekend against a dire Fiorentina, as an unlucky Gerson headed the ball past his own ’keeper.
A fair share of good results were reached during the early stages of the season, chief among them a fourth-round win against Inter at San Siro, and a last minute 3-3 draw against champions Juventus in Turin.
However, the fatigue of that three-year sprint eventually took its toll and Parma slipped from the mid-table comfort zone to a tight relegation battle after suffering a spell of poor results, losing four games and drawing five. The late run for the money will have made for some sweaty palms and injected a healthy dose of adrenaline that, in the end, will have sweetened the celebrations.
A small economy club, Parma did well pre-season, bolstering the squad with players signed on free transfers and loans. A whopping 22 new players arrived this season. Goalkeeper Luigi Sepe played all matches, veteran Portugal international Bruno Alves took the captain’s band and provided four crucial goals as well as his valuable experience in defence. Striking duo Roberto Inglese and Gervinho scored nine and 10 goals respectively, and winter arrival Juraj Kucka brought four goals and three assists.
Given that many players will return to their parent clubs, securing a competitive squad for next season might prove a tricky puzzle to solve.
The Coach: Roberto D’Aversa
Having led Parma to back-to-back promotions from Serie C to A, D’Aversa kept the Parma boat afloat in his first season coaching in Serie A. He obtained this using the 4-3-3 for most of the season. A nervous spell of nine winless matches forced some experimental formations from his hand, as the focus turned more defensive.
Player of the year: Gervinho
The 31-year-old came on a free transfer and brought some star quality to a Parma squad that needed to find its feet anew in Serie A. His hazy dribbling style would win the yards and lock open opposing defences. Top scorer with 10 goals, he proved time has not dulled his exceptional pace.
Highlight: Gervinho’s goal
The Ivorian turned back the years for himself and Serie A with a stunner in the 2-0 win over Cagliari in November. He gathered the ball on the edge of his own penalty area, ran past six defenders, rode three tackles and fired in past the goalkeeper. It was like a replay of George Weah’s legendary 1996 goal for Milan.
Nightmare: Dall’Ara disaster
Losing 4-1 away to local rivals Bologna. This loss had Parma come critically close to relegation, as Bologna leap-frogged them into safety. A red card for Bruno Alves and own goals by Sepe and Francisco Sierralta exposed the distressed state of the Crociati.
Did you know?
- Bruno Alves made 200 defensive clearances this season – the most in Serie A.
- With an average of 19.54, Parma is the club that allowed most shots against them per game.
- Parma had the poorest pass accuracy of all teams this season, with only 74.2 % reaching the intended target.