Parma Club Focus: Balance is the key
With Parma’s poor run ongoing, the inquest is too. Last week’s game against Sampdoria saw yet another reasonable performance from the Crociati, but one in which a failure to convert opportunities in front of goal extended Roberto Donadoni’s side’s winless streak to eight matches.
The defence were largely untroubled throughout, and only an error from goalkeeper Antonio Mirante meant Sampdoria took the victory. Of more concern was Parma’s failure to find the net. Donadoni started with an unfamiliar, fluid attacking duo of Nicola Sansone and Jonathan Biabiany in a 3-5-2, but even such a drastic change – with Amauri benched – didn’t pay dividends.
Ishak Belfodil, Parma’s top scorer, didn’t take part, still recovering from a knock. But not even that can be blamed for Parma’s disappointing offensive display. After all, the Algerian, while showing his obvious talent in flashes this season, has only found the back of the net seven times in the league this season. With that, he’s the Gialloblu‘s top goalscorer.
In second place is Amauri, with six, with Nicola Sansone third with five. Other than that, no other Parma player has chipped in with over three goals. Biabiany – who had several great chances against Sampdoria - has scored just once. That Parma have scored over two goals in a game just once this season is a concern, particularly now that the defence has struggled since the departure of Cristian Zaccardo.
This scoring problem isn’t a new one, first rearing its head right back in August when Parma had scored four times in their opening seven league games. But, when Roberto Donadoni switched to a 4-3-3 formation it seemed the problem was rectified. The Crociati scored more goals in their next two games than they had done in the entire season to date.
Unfortunately, now the issue is back, with Donadoni struggling to find the balance between defence and attack. The 3-5-2 is obviously more defensively secure than the 4-3-3, but goals – and an effective strike partnership – has been hard to come by when using a defensive trio.
Amauri is probably the most natural, gifted finisher of the team, though his immobility means that when used as a lone striker, he isn’t as effective as Ishak Belfodil, who is strong and skilful, though is inconsistent, and hasn’t looked at his best when used in front two.
Similarly, when Nicola Sansone or Jonathan Biabiany have been used in conjunction with one of the aforementioned duo in the 3-5-2 they haven’t been able to utilise their pace and skill effectively enough, and there’s little doubt they are more effective when played out wide.
The tactical decision, therefore, seems like an easy one. Play a 4-3-3 with Belfodil through the middle, flanked by Sansone and Biabiany. That is probably the best idea when attacking, but then that becomes a defensive concern by leaving the centre-backs exposed, particularly when playing two offensively-minded full-backs like Aleandro Rosi and Djamel Mesbah, and no true defensive midfielder.
Ideally the Crociati would have a midfield destroyer who can slot in between the centre-backs when attacking, though with no-one to fulfil that role at present, Roberto Donadoni has quite a selection dilemma to try to end this woeful streak.