Bologna vs Parma, Preview: On-form Rossoblù host Derby dell'Emilia clash

Mario Carlini / Iguana Press

With both of these sides hovering in mid-table, there is everything to play for as Parma look to win Italy's tastiest derby at the Renato Dall'Ara for the first time since 2005

That day in June 2005, when Parma last won the Emilian derby away at Bologna, it held even greater significance than a regular clash between the rivals. The teams faced off in a Serie A relegation playoff, with Parma's 2-0 win ensuring they stayed up, relegating their biggest foes in the process.

One of the scorers that day was Alberto Gilardino -- a man who will line up tomorrow in Rossoblù (and therefore will almost certainly score). He is not the sole renegade, with Bologna's coach Stefano Pioli born in Parma, and by his own admission on the "wrong" side of the divide. Parma defender Cristian Zaccardo was born just 25 miles from Bologna, making 79 appearances for the club before moving on. His teammate Ishak Belfodil spent last season on loan at the Renato Dall'Ara.

All of this promises to make Saturday's clash an even more feisty affair, in the 38th meeting between the sides. It is a traditionally very closely contested fixture, with the biggest winning margin since the inaugural match in 1983 being just two goals. The all-time tally is 11-10 in Parma's favour.

But, if they are to extend this lead they will have to beat a side who have won four of their last five games in all competitions. Bologna have a team which shouldn't be underestimated. Aside from Alessandro Diamanti, Saphir Taider is a noteworthy creative force, and will likely start as the central attacking midfielder in a 4-2-3-1 - a formation which has seen Pioli's side beat Napoli twice in their last two games.

As for Parma, their 4-3-3 which coach Roberto Donadoni has settled on after some early tinkering saw them beat Cagliari 4-1 last weekend, with Belfodil bagging a brace in the process. A dangerous side when they are in the mood, their pace on the counter is their principal threat, with their on-form Algerian striker flanked by Jonathan Biabiany and Nicola Sansone.

Bologna's home advantage may see them head into the game as slight favourites, though you may as well flip a coin as trying to predict this derby clash.

Bologna Injuries and Suspensions

Nico Pulzetti, Michele Pazienza, Henry Giménez, Filippo Lombardi and Cesare Natali (injured). No suspension concerns.

Parma Injuries and Suspensions

Daniele Galloppa, Antonio Mirante, Aleandro Rosi (injured). Gabriel Paletta (suspended).

Match Date / Time: Sunday, December 22 at 3 p.m. local, 9 a.m. ET

Venue: Stadio Renato Dall'Ara, Bologna, Italy

TV: Sky Calcio 4 (Italy)

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