Milan-Parma Preview: Not-So-Super Bowl

In the United States tomorrow, two American football teams will be vying for a “world” championship. But before that, two fallen stars of Italian football will be desperately fighting to take three points to redeem themselves, like buried alive kind of desperation. One game will have international television coverage, celebrities and glamour, the other will have die hard fans who have to drink just to be able to withstand the pain of watching their fallen clubs. Welcome to Milan vs. Parma. The not-so-super spectacle before the actual spectacle.

They get more respect than wages

Parma this season is like one of those rescued animals that is disabled… it pulls at your heartstrings and makes you sad in places you didn’t even know existed. They are dead last in the table, on nine points after 20 games played. Nine points. Not even Galliani could put a positive spin on that. They won three matches, drew one, and lost 16. I mean, to be fair of their three wins, one was against Inter. You have to give them massive points for that. But the 7-0 smackdown they endured from Juventus was like watching someone beat a dead puppy, it was really, really sad.

However, if their results make you feel better about Milan, just wait, there’s more: They have been having all kinds of financial and management problems. In fact, the owner sold the club, but then there was even controversy in that, and I’m not sure all of the i’s are dotted and the t’s crossed even still. The bigger impact on their game, though is the unpaid wages. They were docked a point (in case you noticed the points & results didn’t add up above) for unpaid wages. Then Cassano threatened to sue them over the issue, then nullified his contract with the club this week and is now a free agent. (I think he just couldn’t stomach getting beaten by Milan again and ran.) De Ceglie called up Juve to get him out of there, so his loan was ended early and he escaped the train wreck. But sadly, all of the players are talking about walking if they are not paid soon. Such a shame for such a storied club.

Running away again

Parma are, of course, coached by former Milan legend Roberto Donadoni, and their squad includes our old friend Nocerino, and the almost-Milan player Biabiany, whose heart problems have kept him sidelined this season. They also were sent out of the Coppa Italia this week in the dying minute of the match by Juventus. But last Sunday, they played Cesena in the league, losing 2-1, with Cesena trying to help them with the own goal. For that match, Donadoni lined up Mirante; Cassani, Costa, Gobbi, Paletta; Mauri, Lodi, Nocerino; Palladino, Rodriguez, and Varela. Paletta is desperately trying to get out of Parma before the window closes (or he loses any more hair,) so he may or may not be available. Donadoni will also be without Lila, Jorquera, Acquah, Belfodil, Ghezzal, Coda, and the aforementioned Biabiany to injury. Plus anyone who decides to jump off the sinking ship, of course.

But don’t think that just because we are playing a club in ruins at the San Siro that we will be guaranteed three points. Just because we beat them 5-4 at home in Inzaghi’s “score more goals than you concede” portion of the campaign doesn’t guarantee that we will be able to defend set pieces or otherwise not concede the three points. Just because our players are overpaid and Galliani is going on a shopping binge to get as many players on the wagebill as humanly possible before the Monday's transfer deadline, don’t think that makes our team better on the pitch. Parma will actually have more to prove and more to fight for and may be literally hungry, having not been paid in seven months.

Will Honda get the start?

Inzaghi has Honda back from international duty, and he should be more fit now than for his sub appearance on Tuesday. He also has new players Destro and Bocchetti who have trained with the squad now, however, the latter may not be match fit coming from Russia’s offseason. But he will be missing Mexes due to his psychotic episode and resulting suspension, and De Sciglio, Zapata, Bonera, Bonaventura and El Shaarawy, who are all injured. Still doubtful as of this writing are Abate, Albertazzi, Alex, and De Jong. Of course, if Galliani signs any players overnight, then you can add them to the squad, too.

I don’t expect anything super about this match. There won’t be any puppies playing football, no billions of dollars in commercial advertising, no girls playing football in lingerie accompanying this game. There may not even be any decent calcio to speak of. But both teams have a lot to play for, with every three points being like a life preserver from here to the end of the season. While it is sad seeing old friends in tough places, football is not a charity and neither team can afford to gift the game. I can only hope that in honor of that over-hyped, gaudy, and absurdly unsportsmanlike other game that will be watched by the world, that these teams will play their best in the situations they are in and give us fans something worth watching.

This post inspired by the music of Andrea Bocelli

Milan vs. Parma
Sunday, February 1 • 20:45 CET (2:45pm EST)
This game will be shown LIVE on RAI in the U.S.

Milan-Parma Preview: Not-So-Super Bowl Milan-Parma Preview: Not-So-Super Bowl Reviewed by Elaine on 11:30 PM Rating: 5
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