Season Preview: Parma – Ducali look to take the next step-up into European contention

Last season: Parma 2010-11 season review
The squad: It’s been a busy summer transfer mercato for Parma. Last season’s key player, Sebastian Giovinco has been signed on a permanent basis while I Crociati have made a plethora of signings throughout the squad, the most intriguing of the new names being the likes of Fabiano Santacroce, Nwankwo Obiorah, Graziano Pelle and Fabio Borini. One of their best players last season, Swiss midfielder Blerin Dzemaili has moved to Napoli but the departure was an expected one and Parma have kept departures down to a minimum as Coach Franco Colomba undertakes his first full season in charge. Question marks remain whether Ducali will prove successful in their bid to bring Amauri back after his impressive loan spell at the Stadio Ennio Tardini but Parma appear content with the attacking options they’ve been able to bring in thus far.
Quite a few of the players brought in have a point to prove – Santacroce, Pelle and Manuele Blasi in particular are players who have a point to prove as they have not delivered performances in line with their talent in recent years. After the remarkable motivation job that Colomba did last season, it would appear that the powers-that-be at the club are relying on Colomba doing a similar job with the new recruits and if so, Parma could be set to make a push higher up the table. However, Ducali are still in the market for players and it’ll be interesting to see who they opt for.
Coach: Franco Colomba: His arrival in April galvanised the team and the results i Gialloblu have obtained under his stewardship thus far make promising reading for the Parma tifosi. Colomba’s pragmatism saved the day last season and he will not differentiate from his style in this campaign. His predecessors Francesco Guidolin and Pasquale Marino utilised more attractive methods of play but after last year’s flirtatious glances at the relegation trapdoor, the pragmatic approach proved to be the safer option and with expectations adjusted, Colomba will look to work on the areas where i Crociati were exposed last season. Parma are expected to line up with a 4-4-2 this season with Colomba looking to encourage defensive responsibility as a platform for the team to build on.
The arrival of unproven talents will be a test of Colomba’s man-management and while there is enough potential in the squad to surprise and push for a Europa league spot, Colomba is a man of realism and will look to manage expectations accordingly. Colomba’s methods have offered encouraging signs but should Parma endure a poor start to the season then it remains to be seen whether Colomba will be afforded the patience that his immediate predecessor was.
Player to look out for: Fabio Borini The youngster has returned to the land of his birth to prove himself and it’s going to be a source of intrigue as to how he fares in Serie A. He’s a talented forward who will have undoubtedly benefitted from his spell at Chelsea. If given the opportunity, Borini could really blossom into an international-quality player.
Prediction: Mid-table mediocrity was achieved last season and while the project has underlying ambitions of a European place, that might turn out to be too far for them this time round.
Probable XI:

Zaccardo – Santacroce – Lucarelli – Gobbi
Palladino- Galloppa – Morrone – Giovinco –
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