Parma are currently 11th in the Serie A table after three wins, three draws and four losses that have seen Marco Parolo and Antonio Cassano in sparkling form
Parma began the 2013/14 league campaign in not exactly spectacular fashion with a goalless draw at home against Chievo Verona. The two goalkeepers Antonio Mirante and Christian Puggioni put in flawless performances, but imprecise outfield play meant that it was the deserved result overall.
Udinese awaited at the Stadio Fruili for the Gialloblu’s first away trip of the season, but the visitors were forced to return home empty handed after a 3-1 defeat in which the beginnings of a comeback sparked by Antonio Cassano’s back-post header failed to materialise.
Next up was a formidable challenge against a Roma side just getting into their stride in the run that has now reached 10 consecutive victories. Roberto Donadoni’s men weren’t able to stop them at the Tardini despite playing a strong first-half in which they took the lead through Jonathan Biabiany, eventually falling to a 3-1 reverse.
They did pick up a point with their second 0-0 draw of the season away at Catania, and they went on to seal all three in a much more action-packed 4-3 midweek win against Atalanta.
It was a rip-roaring game, and the six-goal first-half haul began with an astonishing strike let fly from distance by Djamel Mesbah. Giacomo Bonaventura then put in a well-taken goal to make it 1-1 before Marco Parolo followed the Atalanta man’s volley with an even better one of his own to restore the Gialloblu’s lead. Further strikes from Aleandro Rosi and Parolo - both of top quality - meant that Parma’s lead was unsurmountable and they sealed their first win of the season.
On 30 September, Donadoni’s side emerged from the Artemio Franchi in Florence with a 2-2 draw - not an easy feat by any means - thanks to a Gonzalo Rodriguez own-goal and a last-gasp header from ex-Viola man Massimo Gobbi that silenced the crowd inside the ground.
And they carried that positive momentum over into their next home game, a 3-1 win against Sassuolo despite the sending off of goalkeeper Mirante. Cassano was the inspired performer, providing both assists for Raffaelle Palladino and Rosi’s headers before putting the game to bed himself with a tidy finish into the corner.
The Gialloblu weren’t so successful in their next fixture, though, as they were sunk by a Hellas Verona side who have been in remarkable form in 2013/14. It finished 3-2 in their opposition’s favour, but they would turn things around in style the next week.
The visitors to the Tardini on 27 October were Milan, and Parma rose to the challenge admirably to record another 3-2 scoreline that this time was victorious.
After Donadoni’s men went two ahead courtesy of Parolo and Cassano (due mainly to the supreme efforts of Biabiany on the wing), the Rossoneri looked to have secured at least a point after coming back through Alessandro Matri and Matias Silvestre.
But a chance fell to Parolo to strike a final blow for Parma from a long-range free-kick, and the prolific midfielder drilled it home to pull off a fantastic win.
In their most recent fixture, Donadoni’s men were defeated 1-0 at the Luigi Ferraris after Alberto Gilardino got his name on the scoresheet. It could have been very different, because while Mirante saved a Gilardino penalty in only the second minute, Mesbah had a goal disallowed for the visitors due to a borderline offside decision.
A stand-out characteristic of last season’s Parma was the high number of headers they scored, and it has been a similar story so far during this campaign: five have come in the air to date - a record held with Atalanta - and they have had five different finishers.
Parolo and Cassano are the team’s top scorers with five and four respectively, and they provided the assists for each other both at home against Atalanta and away against Hellas Verona.
Parma are very strong at the Tardini, having won the last three games their home ground and scoring 10 goals in the process.
However, after Milan and Torino the Gialloblu are the side who have squandered the most points from winning positions, and the six penalties that they have conceded are also more than any other Serie A outfit.
It is clear from the 32 chances Cassano has fashioned for his team-mates that he is the most creative attacking threat, while Amauri’s 22 shots without finding the net - a Serie A record this year - show that he is yet to find his form.
His current lack of an eye for goal meant that he was left out of the 3-5-2 formation deployed against Genoa on Wednesday, with Cassano and Palladino starting up front.