Serie A 2012-13 season review: Parma stutter their way to tenth

Marco Luzzani

At times thrilling and at others downright dull, it was an erratic season from Parma, whose mid-table finish is satisfactory if unsatisfying.

10th; W13 D10 L15
Parma F.C.

It's been another season of two halves for Parma, who, after flirting with relegation before rallying back into the top half last season, did the reverse this time. They started well, though post-January with safety pretty much guaranteed, they eased off and their results tailed off. Still, tenth place is a good result for a side which continues to operate on a limited budget.

It was Roberto Donadoni's first full season in charge at the crociati, and he continued to impress. He showed a willingness to adapt his tactics and experiment with youth, with Nicola Sansone and Ishak Belfodil establishing their credentials and becoming regulars in the first team. Some better fortune and more concentration, and a higher league position would've been possible.

Most significant match

Parma 1-0 Inter Milan (26 November 2012)

This win over Inter probably gave Parma fans the most fun they had this season, with boyhood nerazzurri supporter Nicola Sansone skipping past countless defenders on his way to slotting past Samir Handanović inside the closing 15 minutes. It was a magical goal, and kept the crociati within three points of a Europa League spot. Ultimately the results tailing off in 2013 meant dreams of Europe were never anything more than dreams, but it was very nice while it lasted.

Biggest surprise

Nicola Sansone

You've probably worked out I quite like Nicola Sansone by now. The tricky winger, 21, burst onto the Serie A scene with a goal off the bench against Torino, and Roberto Donadoni never looked back. Munich-born Sansone did fade towards the end of the season, but he's firmly cemented his place in the crociati starting eleven and is a fixture in the Italy U21s. One to watch -- if your eyes can keep up with him.

Biggest disappointment

The new Giovincos

The big question at the start of the season was how would Parma react to losing Sebastian Giovinco. The Atomic Ant was off to Juventus, leaving the gialloblu short of a star playmaker. Greek midfielder Sotiris Ninis and Colombian Dorlan Pabón were brought in to fill the void, though, as it turned out, neither impressed. Ninis has been forced to warm the bench while Pabón -- unsettled and dogged by personal problems -- left for Real Betis in January (where he has been a sensation) and will be joining Mexican club Monterrey in the summer. Undoubtedly unfulfilled promise.

What needs changing?

Roberto Donadoni showed a desire to stick with the same midfield trio throughout the season -- playmakers Jaime Valdés and Marco Marchionni, and box-to-box workhorse Marco Parolo. While it worked well early on (with Parolo outstanding for the entire campaign), the ageing Valdés and Marchionni both underperformed, especially near the end of the season. With Daniele Galloppa set to return to first team action after a horrific knee injury next season and young talents like Álvaro Ampuero knocking on the metaphorical midfield door, it's maybe time for Donadoni to be a little bolder with his team selection.

Who's off in the summer?

Hopefully not many players. Centre-back Gabriel Paletta has been Parma's real star, and is unsurprisingly subject to interest from various clubs -- though there's hope Parma can retain him for at least another season. Similarly, young striker Ishak Belfodil is believed to be being chased by Napoli, though could stay. Contrastingly, Rodney Strasser hasn't impressed since arriving on loan from AC Milan in January, and won't be any great loss if he is sent back to the San Siro, while the underperforming Jonathan Biabiany should be sold if Juventus put in a reasonable offer.

If Parma could keep one individual...

Antonio Mirante

Paletta has been Parma's most important player this season, though it's goalkeeper Antonio Mirante who I'd choose to keep over anyone else. The 29-year-old has not only delivered international-standard performances, but he's barely missed a game for the crociati in the last four seasons. A great player and an important squad member, losing Mirante would cause Parma some real headaches.

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