Serie A 2011-2012 Preview: Parma -- Look Who's All Grown Up!

SB Nation Italy welcomes back Adam Digby for the "Juventus Reserves" preview. More than a mere tifosi, Adam is one of the most knowledgeable sources to be found on Italian football and contributes to  IBWM, SI.com, Calcio Italia and Beyond the Pitch, and is also the co-founder of JuventiKnows.com

SB Nation Soccer's Serie A previews continue with Parma. The Ducali have always been one of the leagues most admired teams, a veritable supermarket of talent that has been continually raided by Europe's best sides since the club's first ever promotion to Serie A back in 1990. Consistently good to watch they faded from being one of the Seven Sisters after the Parmalat meltdown, returning to the second tier but seem to be improving steadily under Tommaso Ghirardi's ownership.


Sporting Director Pietro Leonardi has brought together an impressive squad over the past two years, taking few risks and signing proven Serie A performers. A number of these are men like Amauri who have hit poor form and Parma have become something of a rehabilitation centre. Francesco Guidolin left for Udinese last summer and his teams have been among Italian footballs best the past two years, sadly for fans of Parma only one of those seasons was on their bench.


With a pre-season to put over his ideas Franco Colomba will have no excuses and should be in the top half of the table if they realise the immense potential within the group. Cristian Zaccardo has been linked with a number of moves away which would be a shame, his veteran leadership and mentality have been vital to the club.


Parma in 2010-11


Given the talent available last season was something of a disappointment for Parma. Pasquale Marino struggled to fill the void left by Francesco Guidolin's resignation and was sacked in early April with seven games left to play. Franco Colomba earned the desired results and avoided relegation two weeks from the end of the season. There was much to admire in their play but the club will rightly expect much more this time around.


Goal Of Last Season


This stunning backheel from Amauri was amazing even without considering the goal drought he put long-suffering Juventus fans through, a truly great goal.


Summer Signings


Who's Out?


Amauri and Antonio Candreva have left after their loan spells ended, while Marco Rossi has moved to Cesena and Massimo Paci joins Serie A newcomers Novara. Talented Swiss midfielder Blerim Džemaili heads south to Napoli but perhaps the biggest loss is that of Valeri Bojinov, particularly when considering the club only received a 2.6m€ fee from Sporting for the striker.


Who's In?


Pietro Leonardi has brought in Fabio Santacroce, Jaime Valdés and Jonathan Biabiany on loan, while the acquisitions of Manuele Blasi and Fabio Borini strengthen the squad. The deals for Sebastian Giovinco and Raffaele Palladino will bring some vital stability to the Tardini.

What to Expect from 2011-2012


Lots of creativity, some enthralling attacking play laced with naive youthful mistakes and numerous realisations that their group of 'kids' are in their mid-to-late-twenties. Should undoubtedly be closer to the European places than the relegation zone.


Key Players


Anyone who used to play for Juventus. Former Bianconeri players netted a whopping 57% of all Parma's goals last season, with Raffaele Palladino, Amauri, Sebastian Giovinco and Antonio Candreva all making vital contributions, not to mention the continued improvement of Antonio Mirante in goal. Having said all that the vital player will be a goal scorer to replace Amauri, which at the moment may be 36 year old Hernan Crespo.


Potential Breakout Star


Perhaps an obvious one but Fabiano Santacroce, arriving on loan from Napoli, is certainly one to keep an eye on. After battling with injuries he struggled to come to terms with Walter Mazzarri's system but should be far more suited to Parma's more simple tactical framework. If so he could return to the kind of form that saw the Brazilian born 24 year old linked with some of Italy's biggest clubs.


Prediction


Avoid relegation comfortably and happily settle in mid-table mediocrity

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