In their return to Serie A last season Parma fulfilled their first objective, which was to survive relegation. They even managed to achieve more at times, with good results against supposedly superior teams such as Inter, Juventus, Torino, Roma, and Milan. Having achieved the first objective it is important to perform a previous tactical analysis of Parma in Serie A.
Parma’s big problem last season was their inconsistency and the fact of having a short squad. In spite of that, the best news was the renewal of Roberto D’Aversa as their coach for the 2019/2020 season. In addition, Parma has added new players who can provide variants to the tactics proposed by D’Aversa.
The following tactical analysis will try to predict how Parma will play next season. We will rely on an analysis of D’Aversa’s tactics to make a full scout report of what we can expect from Parma and their new signings in the coming 2019/2020 season. In addition, this tactical analysis will show where Parma must improve to achieve the next goal: to return to European football.
D’Aversa changed the system a lot during Parma’s matches last season. Depending on the opponent and the context of the match Parma was accommodated with different tactical variants. But D’Aversa used a base system that was 4-3-3 with possession of the ball and several systems without the ball in their possession. That is to say, a permanent offensive tactic and a defensive tactic with many changes since the formation.
The 4-3-3 tactical system proposed by D’Aversa varies depending on the phase of the game in which the match is. That is to say, with the team defending what is sought is numerical superiority against the rival. Then, when the ball has been recovered the transition from defence to attack is very fast. Finally, attacking the team tries to play through the external lanes to generate depth in those sections.
Tactics in midfield
The tactical base of a 4-3-3 formation is the midfield. The midfielders’ zone was usually formed into a triangle. In other words, one defensive midfielder and two further forward. The players who are part of that triangle must have a lot of mobility to generate spaces in that area of the pitch. In addition, the defensive midfielder is in charge of going back a few meters to receive the first pass from the backline.
The tactics of the three midfielders trained in a triangle can vary and has several options. The three midfielders can play inline if the team does not have possession of the ball. Parma can also play with one backward midfielder and two in front of him. In the same way, two players can play in line to carry out defensive tasks and one in front of them to link the attack.
The three players who are located in that area of the pitch are responsible for giving tactical variants to the team. This zone of three players was formed last season by Luca Rigoni, Leo Štulac and Antonino Barillà.
Luca Rigoni ended his contract with Parma and that’s why D’Aversa asked for two players who could occupy that position: José Machín and Hernani. Machín was in Pescara last season and usually plays as right or left interior midfielder. Hernani was last season in Zenit and can play as defensive midfielder or interior.
Despite using a 4-3-3 tactic, which is based on possession and position, D’Aversa surprised with another idea. Most of last season Parma was a reactive team. In other words, Parma gave the initiative to their rivals and waited to counterattack.
For example, Parma was not known for putting high pressure on their opponents. In fact, the tactical style was based more on being a team that waited in their own field. D’Aversa uses the good positioning of his players to cover passing lanes. To be able to perform this type of tactic requires a lot of order and good use of time and space.
D’Aversa’s main focus for his tactics was to generate numerical superiority against any opponent. The idea was that there would always be more Parma players in all sectors of the pitch. In this way, the high pressure is not so necessary, but the order and synchronised movements between the players.
Another feature of Parma’s basic system is the speed to move from one tactical mode to another. Parma quickly arms the 4-3-3 formation to exploit speed across the wings. In that sense, Gervinho and Antonio Di Gaudio were very important players. But Di Gaudio was sold to Hellas Verona, so now that task will surely be covered by Mattia Sprocati.
Wingers play a very important role in this tactical system and Sprocati can be of great help to D’Aversa’s idea. Sprocati is a player who was part of Lazio last season. He is a fast player and has a great feature: he uses both feet perfectly. This way he can play both sides without any problem. He will be a good complement for Gervinho and Roberto Inglese, who will continue at Parma next season.
That’s why the counterattack was another of Parma’s main features last season. This tactic worked many times, as many goals came through it. Parma took advantage of wingers and midfielders who added to the attacks to generate danger.
Parma in defence
On the other hand, Parma changed their tactics constantly when they did not have possession of the ball. The defensive tactics became effective thanks to the good movements of the players. Parma relied on two tactical formations to defend. One was the 4-4-2 system and the other was the 4-1-4-1 system.
With the 4-4-2 formation, some roles change and the players are positioned to occupy other sectors of the pitch. With this tactical system what D’Aversa wants is to have two very close lines of players on the pitch. This makes the team use more of the width of the pitch to block the opponent’s internal lanes.
Defensive tactics also changed to 4-1-4-1 to defend better without possession of the ball. To switch to this tactical system the defensive midfielder is located between two lines. The wingers go back a few meters to make a line in front of the defensive midfielder. That is to say, the wingers make a line with the interiors midfielders. With this tactic, the defensive midfielder is in charge of covering his teammates and moving all over the width of the pitch.
Roberto Inglese was the central striker for most of the last season in Parma. In fact, Inglese belongs to Napoli and had a chance to return to that team, but Parma was able to retain him. The 27-year-old striker will stay at least one more season on loan.
D’Aversa knows that this was a position to strengthen. If Parma want to fight for qualifying positions in the Europa League, for example, Inglese must have a team-mate in that position. In addition, it is not only a partner but to generate competition between strikers. The competition between two or more players for the same position strengthens the level of all.
That’s why Parma bought for next season Andrea Adorante, a 19-year-old striker from Inter. Adorante scored 12 goals in 19 games in the Spring 1 Championship.
The central striker has a very important task in tactics and in the system proposed by D’Aversa. The striker is the player in charge of playing between the two centre backs of the rival team. In addition, the striker must generate spaces for the ends, so those movements are fundamental. He must also move across the entire width of the pitch and play many times on both wings. In the same way, he must go back a few meters and wait for the midfielders to join the attack.
The renewal of D’Aversa as a coach for next season is the best news Parma could have received. D’Aversa took over Parma in 2016 when the team was in Serie C. From there, they were promoted to Serie B and Serie A in consecutive seasons, something not easy to achieve. But in addition to the achievements, D’Aversa has managed to impose a tactical base in Parma, something even more complicated.
Parma has a consolidated tactical philosophy and style that kept them in Serie A last season. In addition, Parma escaped relegation with several games left. With the peace of mind of continuing in Serie A, Parma will now have to fight for something more and continue to move up the standings.
The most important thing is that last season’s player base was maintained. In addition, certain elements of the team have been reinforced, which looked a little weak at times in Serie A 2018/2019. It will be essential that the new players adapt to D’Aversa’s tactics. Understanding the system and the tactical style Parma will be able to achieve better results in the 2019/2020 season and be one of the surprise teams.