Parma were perhaps an outside bet for a European place at the start of the season. Any predictions of a top six finish will have come under sharper scrutiny however after the Gialloblu surrendered a half time lead which culminated in defeat to Novara at the Stadio Silvio Piola on Saturday evening.
With roughly a third of the season gone, Parma are comfortably in mid-table in tenth place and with 15 points on the board, two points from the top six and a healthy five from the dreaded drop zone.
But it is games like that against the Piedmont minnows which are likely to see Parma continue to flatter to deceive if they can’t convert the chances they create. The inconsistency the Crociati have displayed this season is in stark contrast to the form shown in the final seven games of the last campaign.
Franco Colomba’s men have suffered away defeats to Novara (after leading) and a 3-0 thumping by goal-shy Fiorentina as well as a home loss to another newly-promoted team in Atalanta, undermining the great efforts exerted to secure victories against Napoli and Udinese this season.
Colomba arrived as Coach in April with Parma in a precarious position, but wins against Juventus, Inter, Palermo and Udinese sealed the Ducali’s Serie A status for another year, racking up 14 points from a possible 21 in the process. While the giant killings may have continued in the form of the Zebrette and the Vesuviani this campaign, one component from that team which completed the remarkable run is no longer at the club.
The much-maligned Amauri, currently in the depths of Juventus’ squad somewhere near Vinovo, was a sensation for the Parmigiani, and although the Gialloblu signed a host of strikers in the summer, Jonathan Biabiany is the only frontman to net, with a solitary strike to his name. Amauri would likely be back at the Stadio Ennio Tardini but for his reported €70,000-a-week wage demands, while his replacement Sergio Floccari, along with Graziano Pelle’ and Hernan Crespo have all failed in front of goal.
Yet it’s not as if Parma are not creating chances; the club’s strikers are not converting them or even hitting the target. Pint-sized attacking midfielder Sebastian Giovinco has seven goals to his name (six clear any other team-mate), and two assists, with Biabiany and Floccari on a par in the assist column.
Parma’s highest percentage of shots on target was 50% away at Juventus in the season opener when Giovinco’s consolation penalty was the Gialloblu’s only shot on target. Since then, the figure slid to its lowest point in the home loss to Atalanta when just two of 18 chances created (11%) were on target. The Crociati’s season average is at just 28% too, and that figure compares negatively with Colomba’s seven games last season when 37% of Parma’s shots were on target.
Some may point out another weakness in that Parma are second only to Novara in the goals conceded column, however eight (40%) of those 20 goals were leaked on away days to Milan and Juventus.
Amauri may or may not have replicated his form had he been signed in the summer mercato, after all, his Serie A record as a whole is far from blistering. The profligacy demonstrated by Franco Colomba’s other frontmen will no doubt have him looking ahead to the January sales though, that’s if he can’t stop his strikers finding row Z between now and then.