Before every match at the Stadio Tardini, composer Giuseppe Verdi’s most famous work, ‘The Triumphal March’ from Aida is blasted out over the intercom system. It is and will remain to be a call to arms for the 11 Crociati who take to the pitch and the many fans who cheer them on.
And ever since the club’s demise under he who must not be named (ok, Tommaso Ghirardi but say it quietly) the piece of music has proven itself to be especially adept. With the club triumphantly marching to back to back promotions. Now though as the saying goes, the real work begins. One step from the top of the pyramid the Gialloblu are facing into a gruelling 42 game campaign that is Serie B. Already placed among the favourites to make it three promotions on the trot by pundits and fans alike, Parma will face many pitfalls along the journey back to Serie A but it is one they are equipped to make.
After perhaps slightly underestimating the competition at the start of last season in Serie C the Ducali did eventually come good and earn promotion through the play-offs. And with manager Roberto D’Aversa facing into his first full season in charge optimism is high around the club. As for transfer dealings, the club have been very busy over the last number of months, with the general consensus around the team being that it needed more quality and strength in depth in the attacking department and thus far this has been rectified. Chief target Francesco Caputo did choose Empoli over them but other signings have more than made up for it. In has come Luca Siligardi, Roberto Insigne, Antonio di Gaudio and Jacopo Dezi to bolster Yves Baraye and Emanuele Calaio. Dezi in particular is seen as an excellent capture after many a club had been chasing his signature.
As for the other areas of the pitch the concentration has been more on adding depth to the squad then anything else. Meanwhile the departures lounge it is full of many a young player who served well in Serie D and C but are just not ready to make the step up into the second division. Only Simone Edera, who has returned to Torino, is perhaps the one disappointing departure. No doubt the biggest coup for the club this pre-season is that the now 40-year-old Alessandro Lucarelli has committed himself to the cause for another year. Apart from injuries Il Capitano was an ever-present last season and while that is probably not as likely this year his presence around the dressing-room and the stature he is held in by the fans means he still has a massive role to play.
As for the midfield, Matteo Scozzarella will be pulling the strings from deep and has an able back up in Francesco Corapi if needed. Beside them will be more than likely be Antonio Barilla who will pick up the enforcer role protecting Scozzarella. The only slight area of concern is between the sticks, while Pierluigi Frattali is a good keeper he is not exactly top tier and with a lack of real competition behind to drive him forward it may be something that will need to be addressed come January.
Parma are one step away from exorcizing the ghosts of 2015 but before they do so they must overcome their most difficult hurdle yet. They are no longer playing against clubs who will look up in awe at them but rather teams who view themselves as equals. Nonetheless Parma have built a squad that is capable of sealing the hat-trick of promotions and the smart money would be on them doing just that.