Let’s face it, this definitely wasn’t ANY-FUCKING-WHERE NEAR the best performance we’ll see from the Bianconeri this season and to be frank, it was downright mediocre, most importantly though we got the 3 points and extended our unbeaten to run 40 Serie A games, which is pretty insane if you ask me and something everyone as a club should feel tremendously proud of. I suppose it was just one of those early season games where the international players are still feeling a little sluggish, whilst those who have come off the back of the entire pre-season campaign are just lacking a fair bit of match practice. The latter can obviously be applied to Parma too, but we must remember that we are seen as a big scalp and they will have been ever so eager to impress and break our unbeaten run to show to their own fans that they are going to have a decent season in the forthcoming 9 or so months. I thought there were a number of points to consider really and from what I observed, these were…..
- Following on from what I said above with Parma raising their game with it being Juventus and the season curtain-raiser, their players were seriously eager to impress from kick off and that resulted in them pressing us very well, whilst maintaining a highly disciplined defensive shape, when they did manage to get the ball they broke quickly and directly, with decent numbers. This frustrated us and it led to us trying to force passes we didn’t need to, resulting in us giving away cheap possession which we wouldn’t normally. I wrote down on my notes that we would later see them run out of steam and sure enough it happened and as the match progressed, their energy levels and concentration dropped a few notches, whilst we were able to control the match, having barely stept out of 2nd gear for the duration.
- It was clear to see upfront that we were lacking cohesion… Both Vucinic and Giovinco naturally want to get involved in play and naturally they both drift deep and wide in order to pick the ball up – neither are players to hold the ball up with their back to goal and bring others into play. Both men seemed rather confused of their roles and it resulted in a disjointed looking attack. At times during the first half I felt that Vucinic was trying his best to recognise the situation and he was looking to run in behind off the defender’s shoulder, but he was often caught offside, or reacted too sluggishly to get into the right positions. Which leads me on to…..
- ….the need for a true number 9 to lead the line (no rhyme intended) so we can use our possession based system more effectively i.e. when we do get the ball forward, we can actually make the ball ‘stick’ up top so we can then use this time the target man affords to push our wingbacks up the pitch and created an overload on the opposition’s defence. When we were able to effectively keep hold of the ball, we saw how rewarding using our out-ball could be, with Lichtsteiner and Asamoah in particularly doing a a great job creating an overlap out wide. We have Matri in the squad who can do this role, but he doesn’t really have the prowess and presence of someone like for example, Fernando Llorente, who would really scare the life out of Serie A defenders and would provide us with the best possible chance to succeed this season. Marotta, you better not be sleeping this evening!
- Finally, what a brilliant acquisition Kwadwo Asamoah is proving to be, even at this early stage, he’s looking like he could have the same impact for us this season, which Arturo Vidal had for us last. His performance vs Napoli was impressive and once again, he followed up on that with a MOTM display which should cement his place as our first choice LWB, or at least in my opinion anyways. Performances like these show why we have no need for a signing in this position, as Asamoah has the physicality, technique and work rate to succeed and perform to a very high level in this role. Obviously for a player who used to be an attacking box-to-box midfielder at one point in his career, you know he has the technical ability to deliver an end product in the wide areas, but I was mostly impressed by his defensive work rate and positioning, in particular his ability to track back and defend the back post when the ball was crossed in from dangerous areas on the opposing flank. This is a key component of the role and it was one which Giaccherini struggled with as a new LWB convert when playing for Italy in the Euros. Bravo Kwadwo!
I have an inkling that most of you will want to see an Asamoah match comp this week, but I’m still going to point you in the direction of the voting page, where you can still vote for your choice. You can do that by clicking HERE!