SPAL make the short trip across the north of Italy to Parma this Sunday, as they look to move off the bottom of the Serie A table.
There’s only an hour-and-a-half drive between the two teams, but Parma have more than double the points that SPAL have in Serie A this season. Luigi Di Biagio has overseen three games in charge of SPAL and has lost them all 2-1 – the last being at home to 2nd-place Juventus, where Cristiano Ronaldo and Aaron Ramsey scored the goals.
SPAL have now lost eight of their last nine in all competitions and look destined for relegation to Serie B. Three wins stand between them and safety, and they’ll do well to avoid defeat against Parma this weekend.
Roberto D’Aversa has already achieved great success with Parma, winning back-to-back promotions since his appointment in December 2016, and now has his side sitting just four points off European qualification for next season, and with two games in hand over 6th-place Napoli.
He’ll be expecting a comfortable win at home to SPAL this weekend – three points would take Parma to within one point of Napoli, who are next in action against SPAL in two weeks time.
Di Biagio’s only hopes of claiming anything at Parma will lie with Andrea Petagna. The 24-year-old forward scored his 10th Serie A goal of the season against Juventus last time out, and has now scored four in his last five appearances – Petagna has scored over half of SPAL’s league goals this season.
SPAL have also been boosted by the recent return of Mohamed Fares, who made his first appearance of the season against Juve, and is in-line to start against Parma.
Parma however boast one of the best defenses in Italy. They’ve conceded 30 goals in 24 games this season and will be looking to the likes of Simone Iacoponi, and 38-year-old Bruno Alves to keep out a SPAL side who’ve scored just 19 goals in Serie A this season.
Having won their last outing 1-0 away at Sassuolo, thanks to Gervinho’s fifth goal of the season, Parma will be looking to build on that win and to continue their solid home form – the Ennio Tardini Stadium has long been a fortress, and Parma have lost just one of their last five games there.
Despite SPAL’s lowly league position, and differing away form, they’ve picked up their last two wins on the road, doing so against Torino and Atalanta. Parma can’t take SPAL for granted this weekend, but should still claim a comfortable victory as they pursue what’d be an impressive rise from Serie C to European football in just four seasons.
Parma have a chance to move up the table this weekend with several teams having the week off. They’re in good form going into the game but must be wary of SPAL, and particularly the threat of Petagna.
Di Biagio’s side gave a good account of themselves against Juve and will be hoping that they can claim another surprise win on the road, and their first under their new manager as they look increasingly destined for the drop.