Juventus
    07.11.2014 17:24 - in: Serie A S

    Parma in the spotlight

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    Founded in 1913, the Crociati play their games at the Stadio Ennio Tardini and were strong rivals with Juventus during the late 1990s and early 2000s

    Club

    Famous for the traditional cross on their shirt, Parma are a well-supported club and were strong rivals with Juventus after battling them in a total of six cup finals during the late 1990s and early 2000s.

    The Emilia Romagna-based club - which celebrated its centenary last December - was originally founded in 1913 as Verdi Foot Ball Club as a homage to Giuseppe Verdi, renowned opera composer and distinguished son of the province of Parma.

    Perhaps because the town’s rugby and volleyball sides were more popular at the time, Parma’s football team were not instantly successful following their league debut in 1919 and eventually went down to Serie C at the beginning of the 1935/36 campaign.

    The Court of Parma declared the club liquidated in 1968 following financial turmoil, but this in fact turned out to be the point of departure for a steady rise through the ranks of Italian football.

    Promoted to Serie C in 1970, the Gialloblu went up to Serie B soon afterwards in 1973.

    And in 1990 they made a momentous return to Serie A under new manager Nevio Scala, who led them to the decisive 2-0 win over A.C. Reggiana in the Derby del Grana (named after the type of hard cheese produced in the Parma area which Parmesan is a famous example of).

    Scala went on to guide the team to their first major honour as they beat none other than Juventus 2-1 on aggregate to seal a 1991/92 Coppa Italia win.

    And thanks to investment from parent company Parmalat, the team continued to break new ground, lifting their first European title – the Cup Winners’ Cup – in 1993 at Wembley.

    But it was new manager Carlo Ancelotti who led them to their best ever league position: runners-up in the 1996/97 season thanks to the brilliant performances of future Juve trio Gigi Buffon, Fabio Cannavaro and Lilian Thuram.

    Following his departure, Alberto Malesani took up the mantle and didn’t disappoint, delivering a cup double in his first season with a Coppa Italia victory over Fiorentina and UEFA Cup triumph against Marseille.

    In 2000, star striker Hernan Crespo was sold to Lazio for a world-record fee and, despite picking up a third Coppa Italia title in 2002 (against now familiar final opponents Juventus), Parma began to experience a dip, finishing outside the top six in the league that season for the first time since promotion 12 years prior.

    A second period of financial insolvency occurred in 2004 due to the collapse of their sponsors Parmalat, and after battling to avoid relegation in the seasons that followed, Parma – then managed by Claudio Ranieri – eventually succumbed to the drop in 2008.

    The Gialloblu immediately came back up the following season, though, and have consistently pulled off solid mid-table finishes in recent campaigns.

    However, they experienced somewhat of a renaissance last time out as they ended the 2013/14 term in sixth position having strung together a 17-match unbeaten run during the course of the year.

    Despite finishing in the European places, Parma were denied the opportunity to play in the 2014/15 Europa League due to financial irregularities.

    Stadium

    The 23,045 capacity Stadio Ennio Tardini, more commonly known as Il Tardini, is the ground where Parma can be seen running out for their home games.

    The inspiration had come from contemporary French and German stadia when it was built in its original oval shape in 1923 (before which the club had no fixed home), but it now has a more English-style look.

    The Tardini has hosted five Azzurri matches in the past, the most recent of which was a 2012 friendly against France played in memory of the 24 people killed by an earthquake near to the city of Parma, but it is not currently eligible to host competitive international games due to seat backrests that do not meet UEFA Standards.

    On 21 December 2012, it was also chosen as the neutral location for a Serie A match between Juventus and Cagliari due to the Sardinians’ home ground being unavailable.

    Besides football, in 1989 it was the venue for the ninth Italian Superbowl played between American football teams Seamen Milano and Frogs Legnano.

    Transfer activity

    Having initially joined Sassuolo on a co-ownership deal from the Crociati in January, Parma have bought out the remaining 50 per cent of Portuguese defender Pedro Mendes’ rights. The 24-year-old, who can play at both centre-back and at right-back, is strong in the challenge and has already featured on seven occasions this season.

    Juventus-owned left-back Paolo De Ceglie will spend the 2014/15 campaign on loan at the Stadio Ennio Tardini. The 28-year-old, who won two Serie A-Italian Super Cup doubles with the Bianconeri, scored a brace during Parma’s 2-0 victory over Inter last weekend.

    Versatile defender Andrea Costa arrives in Emilia-Romagna having spent three years with Sampdoria. The former Italian Under-20 international scored twice in 72 outings for the Genoa-based outfit.

    Right-back Mattia Cassani has joined on a permanent contract after being an ever-present during last season’s loan with Parma. A product of the Juventus academy, the 31-year-old made one appearance for the Bianconeri in the Champions League before moving to Sampdora in 2003. Cassani became a household name during his three-year stint with Palermo and has also featured on 11 occasions for the Italian national side.

    Kenyan international McDonald Mariga rejoins the club following the expiration of his deal with fellow Serie A side Inter. The 27-year-old left the Crociati in search of trophies in 2010 and went on to be part of Jose Mourinho’s treble-winning outfit that year, but has found first-team opportunities hard to come by in recent seasons.

    Thirty-year-old Francesco Lodi arrives at Parma on a loan deal from Serie B outfit Catania. Usually deployed as a deep-lying playmaker, he is regarded for his passing qualities and is a dead-ball specialist. Lodi made his way through every Italian youth team but has never made an appearance for the senior side.

    Exciting young striker Ishak Belfodil has also rejoined the club following a season away at Inter. The 22-year-old Algerian - who played at the Stadio Ennio Tardini during the 2012/13 campaign - is a physically imposing forward with great pace and is able to either play up top or on the wing.

    In terms of departures, Marco Marchionni acted as part of the deal which saw Costa join Parma and the former Juventus winger will now ply his trade with Sampdoria in Liguria.

    Also joining him at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris is former AC Milan wingback Djamel Mesbah. The Algerian international has penned a two-year contract with Sampdoria having struggled to hold down a first-team place in his solitary season with Parma.

    Marco Parolo brought his two-year stint with Parma to an end after signing for Lazio in the summer. The Crociati will miss the 29-year-old’s dynamism and attack-minded nature which saw him become a fan favourite at the Stadio Ennio Tardini. 

    Former Bianconeri striker Amauri has swapped Emilia-Romagna for Piedmont having joined Torino in the summer. The 34-year-old – who scored 26 times in 80 appearances for Parma – teams up with another Juventus alumni in the form of Fabio Quagliarella.

    Elsewhere, 20-year-old centre-back Jherson Vergara has rejoined parent club Milan following the end of his loan whilst midfielder Gianni Munari will spend the 2014/15 with Championship club Watford on a temporary deal.

    Current team

    Club captain Alessandro Lucarelli is now in his seventh campaign at the club since joining from Genoa back in 2008. Having made over 200 appearances with Parma, the 37-year-old is a seasoned veteran and likes involve himself in attack during set-pieces.

    Goalkeeper Antonio Mirante has been a stalwart since joining in 2009. The 31-year-old – who made his professional debut with Crotone in Serie B – won Italy’s second division with the Bianconeri back in 2007, a season in which he featured on seven occasions.

    Playmaker Daniele Galloppa possesses excellent reading of the game, outstanding vision and loves to thread intricate passes in behind the defence. Now in his sixth year having initially joined on a co-ownership deal from Siena, Galloppa is also a former Italian international and made two appearances under former Bianconeri boss Marcello Lippi in 2009.

    Midfield general Afriyie Acquah sits in front of the Parma backline and acts as the defensive shield. The Ghanaian international began his career in Italy with Palermo and is now in his third loan spell at the Stadio Ennio Tardini. Acquah scored his first goal in professional football last season during a 4-2 loss to Roma.

    Another Bianconeri youth graduate, Raffaele Palladino, has been at Parma since January 2011. The 30-year-old operates just off the striker or on the wing and is adept with his dribbling ability. Palladino scored the club’s 1000th goal in Serie A during a 2-2 draw away at Udinese.

    Last but definitely not least is talisman Antonio Cassano. Having made his loan move from Inter permanent this year, the 32-year-old is hoping to revitalise last season’s stellar form which saw him bag 13 strikes in all competitions. Undoubtedly hugely talented but often plagued by a mercurial temperament, his signing indicated huge ambition from the club with the hope of garnering the type of big-name signatures which made Parma an incredibly successful side during the 1990s. 

    Manager

    Parma are led by Roberto Donadoni, a right-winger in his playing days who was a key member of the famous Milan team of the 1990s and also starred as one of the pioneers of the MLS with MetroStars, now known as the New York Red Bulls.

    After short spells as coach of Lecco, Livorno, Genoa and then a longer two-year period in the Livorno hotseat, he became manager of the Italian national side he made 63 appearances for as a player.

    His predecessor - World Cup-winning coach Lippi (who had retired from the job after the 2006 triumph) - was always going to be a difficult act to follow, and sure enough Donadoni came under pressure from the media after a shaky start to Euro 2008 qualification.

    He led the team successfully to the tournament in the end, but after a disappointing campaign in which the Azzurri went out in the quarter finals to eventual victors Spain, he was dismissed from his post.

    Following a brief stint at Napoli and a year at Cagliari, he took the reins of Parma in January 2012, a critical time because the Gialloblu were deep in a relegation battle.

    But he worked wonders, and thanks to much improved results that included a streak of seven wins in a row he eventually managed to take them to an impressive eighth position in the Serie A table.

    He followed that up with last season’s excellent sixth-place finish but Parma have started this campaign in indifferent form.

    Two victories and eight defeats have left the Crociati a point off the bottom in the relegation zone and Donadoni will hope his side can string together a good run of results that could see them shoot up the table and away from danger.

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