Parma pulled off the biggest surprise of the Serie A season on Saturday, with the crisis-hit club beating the runaway leaders Juventus, 1-0, inflicting what was only the second defeat of the campaign for Massimiliano Allegria s side. Jos Mauri scored the only goal of the game on the hour mark, while a string of fine saves from the Parma goalkeeper, Antonio Mirante, also helped Roberto Donadonia s side to a memorable win. Parma were declared bankrupt last month and their players have not been paid all season, but they have now strung a series of positive results together, with a 1-0 victory over Udinese in midweek and last weekenda s 1-1 draw at Inter.
Coach Massimiliano Allegri clearly had one eye on his sidea s upcoming Champions League tie with Monaco, as Gigi Buffon, Leonardo Bonucci, Alvaro Morata and Carlos Tevez were all rested. Parma started the match stronger, but failed to make the early pressure count; their best chance being offside as Abdel Ghezzal tried to get on the end of CristA?bal Jorquera’s deflected shot. The champions were slow to get going but had penalty appeals waved away after 19 minutes when Fernando Llorente was grappled to the ground. Roberto Pereyra had a curling strike pushed away by Antonio Mirante soon afterwards, but the hosts almost surprised on the counter attack after a superb long ball from Antonio Nocerino found Ishak Belfodil, who cut inside and blasted his finish narrowly wide. The Bianconeri came close just after half an hour, when a superb set piece delivery from Claudio Marchisio was met by an unmarked Arturo Vidal at the back post, but the Chilean was denied by a point-blank save from Mirante. Parmaa s goalkeeper was again decisive as Juvea s pressure intensified before the break. Kingsley Coman threatened for the first time when he burst past his marker and fired a low drive at goal that was saved by the feet of Mirante.
Some neat play between Marchisio, Vidal and Fernando Llorente saw the big Spaniard lay off for the oncoming Marchisio for a first time left-footed shot from the top of the box, which went wide of the far post on fifty-five minutes. Coman again created an opening for himself, this time cutting in from the right wing into the middle and firing high and wide with his left. The visitors struggled to create chances in the second half and were made to pay on the hour mark as Parma took a shock lead. Roberto Donadonia s side again hit on the counter attack and Belfodil squared a pass to the edge of the box where 18-year-old starlet Mauri timed his run to side foot home an emphatic finish. Allegri hoped that the introduction of substitutes Alvaro Morata, Simone Pepe and 17-year-old debutant Mattia Vitale would spark his team into life, but a lethargic Bianconeri performance continued as they failed to break down the well-organised hosts. Parma tried to go for a second, with Silvestre Varela having a shot charged down on seventy-four minutes. Juve’s last real chance came from Vidal’s header on eighty-five minutes. Neither team could score, and the game ended 1-0 in favour of the Gialloblu.The result does not bode well for Juventus only days before their vital Champions League last 16 tie, but gave the Parma fans a rare moment of joy in an otherwise tumultuous season.
Juventus definitely did not play up to their recent standards. In the form they were in, Juve should have won this match easily. On the other hand, it would be unfair to blame the reserve players who have largely done well when called upon this season, including in the recent good run of form. Massimiliano Allegri, was rightfully annoyed at the performance and had a few choice words after the game. The good news is that this loss only delays rather than derails Juve’s charge towards our fourth consecutive Scudetto. Even with a Roma win tomorrow, Juventus will remain 11 points ahead, which barring a momentous collapse is an insurmountable lead. Monaco are up next and the focus needs to quickly turn to that game. It’s been the case recently that when Juve have these types of losses, it acts as a positive shake-up and they get back to the business of dominating all their way. Hopefully that will start with Monaco on Tuesday.
This was just the fifth league win for Parma, who were declared bankrupt last month with debts estimated at nearly 75m euros (A?54m). Parma, who lost 7-0 to Juventus earlier in the season, are 10 points from safety in what has been a turbulent campaign.Their players have not been paid all season, have had to do their own laundry, drive the team bus and go without hot water at the club.The Italian league has allocated 5m euro (A?3.6m) so the club can fulfil their fixtures. The club – who have changed ownership twice this season – have already been hit with a three-point deduction and been forced to postpone two matches. Despite all these Roberto Donadoni’s men managed to give their suffering fans a stunning victory that they could not have envisaged courtesy of a determined performance against the runaway leaders, who are 14 points clear at the top of the table.