Zurich, 13th August 2022 – Parma pick up the first point of their pre-season and they did so against a tough opponent, Zürich Women, 23 times winner of the Swiss Women’s Super League, including last year’s edition. Not only that, but in five days time they will compete in the UEFA Women’s Champions League, so, regardless of the prestige of this competition, being the highest at continental level, this means that they have already reached an optimal level of preparation. On the contrary, Fabio Ulderici’s players have been working together for just one month and are a completely new group, which needs time to get to know each other. And yet, this morning, Friday 13 August 2022, at the Sportzentrum Heerenschürli Helen, there was no noticeable difference in quality between the two teams on the pitch. In fact, the Crociate, even before taking the lead at 34′ thanks to Marija Banusic’s goal, asserted themselves early on both in terms of movement and finishing.

The hosts, however, set out on the front foot in the second half after catching the visitors off guard and grabbing an equaliser through a penalty and started to take the game more seriously. The gialloblù however, not only managed to resist and carefully control their opponents’ manoeuvres, but towards the end of the match they yet again displayed a higher level of quality and incisiveness.

The verdict can therefore only be a positive one considering this team’s progress since previous outings against Sassuolo and Inter, among other things at the home of an opponent that is certainly amongst the strongest teams in Europe, despite a few forced errors and a bus journey, made long and complicated by the flooded road system, with hours of queuing in the mid-August traffic at the St. Gotthard tunnel.

Here’s what Ulderici had to say after the game:

“We are very happy today because the girls played particularly well, playing an important game that showed further progress compared to the last friendly, and this is what I had asked the girls at the beginning of the week, because, as we said last time, we have to take things step by step. Today I saw a team that applied themselves on the field, that were organised, that did well both in and out of possession, that managed to bring our plans onto the field and put them into motion. I’m very happy with all of them, also because it was a very important test: we were playing against the team that won the Swiss championship, which in five days plays its first Champions League match, a team that in the last two years has won the championship eleven times, with six girls playing in the Swiss national team. It was a tough test, but one that showed us that if we go on the pitch with the right attitude we can play and play against anyone because we are a good team.

It was a positive game throughout the whole 90 minutes, with a very good first half, in which, if we made the most of our counter attacks, we could’ve created a few more chances. We struggled to contain them when they played the ball out wide, but then we dribbled more, we took control, we kept the ball when we had to and we regained possession quickly when we lost it. Defensively I saw a team that was really applied, organised and that helped each other. I see a lot of progress compared to the beginning, considering that this is a team that was born, basically, two months ago and has just completed its first month of training. Now we still have two weeks before the start of the league and we’ll try to make further progress, because our goal is to grow every day.

First point of the pre-season? The only points we care about are those from 28 August onwards. Those are the ones that count. We wanted a challenging pre-season because it’s the tough games that ultimately give you the chance to grow. I am happy with what we are doing: now we continue to work, we still have a friendly next week followed by the first league game, but we must be patient, we must work every day. As we have already said, ours is a long journey: I am certain that the girls will continue to improve, because they are a top quality group of players. I congratulate them for what they are doing in these weeks, for how they stay fit and train hard. I congratulate all the staff for what they continuously do: I am really lucky to work with people who give everything for this team. Today was a huge step forward, but we still have a lot to do….”