Named one of this blog’s most surprising teams of 2009-2010, Parma not only survived their first season back in Serie A but finished eighth, two spots ahead of the team that finished before them in Serie B and three points behind Juventus. The club scored in all but nine of their Serie A matches last season, better than AC Milan. So the club responded to such incredible success by not retaining their manager and bringing in a manager from a club who finished below them. However, with their young core of players surrounded by productive veterans, Parma will again be a hard club to beat.
The Manager: Pasquale Marino walks into a great situation, much better than his previous position. While he was fired then rehired by Udinese, he is considered one of the top young managers in Serie A (at age 48). He prefers an attacking style and will likely use three forwards this year.
The Transfer Market: Quite possibly the biggest get by Parma this offseason was Sebastian Giovinco, the “Atomic Ant”. The young Juventus midfielder is in Parma on loan after looking for a new team to gain some playing time. He is one of Italy’s bright young stars and should excel with Parma this season. Also added from the English Premier League’s Manchester City is striker Valeri Bojinov, who had stints previously in Juventus and Fiorentina. Their biggest loss is the transfer of Davide Lanzafame to Juventus; the young midfielder’s attacking ability would have been useful for Marino.
Formation and Key Players: Marino will play a 3-4-3 or 4-3-3 if he continues his past habit of fielding an attacking squad. As such, his three strikers will be an important part of the squad, and he does have quality options. The biggest name up front is Hernan Crespo. Although thirty-five years old, the Argentine can still contribute for his original club. Bojinov will also likely start up front and Giovinco may also be moved forward due to the lack of depth at this position. If Giovinco stays in the midfield, young Alberto Paloschi will be the third striker. The 20 year old has good Italian youth team experience and moved to Parma from Milan for playing time.
The midfield and defenders will primarily be returning players. Daniele Galloppa will be counted on to distribute the ball and set up scoring opportunities, so his center midfielder position will be critical to this offense. Parma will also need captain Stefano Morrone healthy from his injuries sustained at times last year to provide quality in the midfield. On defense, a key addition is Gabriel Paletta who came over to the club from Boca Juniors in Argentina. The young center back, who at one time played sparingly at Liverpool, is a seasoned 24 years old and upgrades the backline.
Outlook: Undoubtedly this team overachieved last season, but not by much. There is some young talent on this club, and it has been greatly improved by management. The Atomic Ant will finally be able to showcase his ability and add some punch to their attack. But their level of talent is still not on par with the the top four, so expect a finish right around where they finished last year.