Parma v Livorno 0 - 0

Famous for taking a pay cut and dropping a division to play for his beloved Amaranto, Cristiano Lucarelli has been a totem for Livorno. He was the spiritual leader of the club, both on and off the pitch. This led him to having a documentary-film made about him and becoming the object of discussion in television programs discussing their role with similar players, like Paolo Di Canio of Lazio. After a disagreement with Spinelli, Lucarelli left to plays Champions League football with Shakhtar Donestsk, making him the first Italian to play in the Ukraine. However, he returned to Italy to play for Parma six months later and on Saturday he faced his old friends.

Luckily for Livorno Lucarelli did not have a great game which led him to being substituted in the 66th minute. The problems that affected the Amaranto at the start of the season resurfaced against Parma. Livorno controlled the game and had most of the opportunities, but could not find the back of the net. De Lucia was almost as much a spectator as the tifosi in the stands.

After some early Parma dominance, Livorno played very well and carved out a number of opportunities. The best chances came in the first half when the Amaranto were attacking the away end. Half way through the first half Diamanti saw his effort rebound off the post. This was better than his next free kick that nearly went into the Livorno curve if it hadn’t hit the tall post holding the CCTV cameras.

Parma’s luck was most apparent on the stroke of half time. Diamanti was again involved when his perfect dross was met by Pulzetti in the centre. Somehow, miraculously, acrobatically, Pavarini cleared the ball off the line and up onto the bar. Great defending, from Parma, that demonstrates Livorno’s misfortune.

The second half was a more even affair without the same clear opportunities. Acori demonstrated a positive approach by bringing on attacking players to try and win the game, but it was not to be. Candreva, Volpe and Danilevicius show the strength on the bench, but none of them had the desired impact. In fact, the most amusing event of the second half was the Parma announcer’s pronunciation of Danilevicius.

Livorno remain fifth and only four points from Grosseto in top spot. Parma are one of the favourites to return to Serie A. On Saturday’s showing, Livorno were more than an equal for them and this promises to be a positive season.

On Saturday Livorno return to Emilia-Romagna to play bottom of the table Modena. So far this season the Amaranto have played better against the top teams who, maybe, provide more space. Hopefully, Modena will not be so defensive at home.

Mark Doidge, 26th November 2008