IFL: Week 9 preview: Parma Panthers clash with Ancona Dolphins highlight game of the week

Things are starting to heat up as we enter the final few weeks of the Italian Football League (IFL) regular season. Nearly all the teams still have a fighting chance of making the playoffs and this weekend’s competition may prove to be make or break.

Verona Mastini (0–5) @ Firenze Guelfi (5–1)

The opening game of the weekend will probably be the least exciting from the perspective of someone looking for a closely fought battle. The depth of the Guelfi squad and the lack of production from Mastini all season will surely result in a one-sided contest.

One thing that Guelfi and league fans can be on the lookout for however is the return of Guelfi’s star Italian quarterback Andrea Fimiani who hasn’t seen action since week one following a broken fibula. With American import Jared Gerbino sidelined due to injury from last week’s game, this contest against the league’s worst team couldn’t come at a better time.

Parma Panthers (4–1) @ Ancona Dolphins (4–1)

The Panthers and Dolphins matchup is undoubtedly the game of the week and will be crucial for both sides as we approach the playoffs.

The Dolphins started the season hot and reeled off win after win following a complete team performance. Their biggest challenge was against the Guelfi in Week 5 where the two sides went toe-to-toe in an all out brawl. Both offenses put up big numbers but the Guelfi walked away with a narrow victory.

The Panthers on the other opened the season up with a shocking defeat at the hands of the Milano Rhinos, but have since gone from strength to strength and even clinched a dominant win over the undefeated Guelfi in Week 7. 

Ancona’s offense is averaging more points than any other team in the league at the moment with a potent rushing and passing attack led by quarterback Colin Di Galbo. They struggled mightily against the Guelfi and their running attack which put up over 320 yards, but for the most part has proven to be solid.

The Panthers are currently sporting the best defense in the league and managed to, as mentioned before, shut down the potent Guelfi offense. Their offense however has been slightly one dimensional ranking dead last in passing. They have remained dominant mostly due to their defense keeping the scoring down.

The biggest headline coming into this one however will be the return of the dominant Italian wideout and defensive back Simone Alinovi. Alinovi was instrumental in the Panthers undefeated championship run two years ago but was sidelined for much of last year due to injury. The young Italian may appear slight in appearance but he is one of the most dynamic and impactful players in Europe. If fully healthy and used correctly, he may just make Parma a championship contender once again.

Varese Skorpions (3–2) @ Legnano Frogs (2–3)

The final game of the weekend should be a closely contested matchup. This will also mark the first time that the two teams promoted from the second division this year will meet. Both the Frogs and Skorpions have presented themselves admirably, clinching key victories against tough opponents and hovering above or around a .500 record.

Eystin Salum has proved to be the life blood for the Frogs so far, proving to be dangerous with both his feet and arms. He is currently the third rushing leader in the league with nine touchdowns and 418 yards, and floats at mid-table in the passing category. The Frogs biggest downside has been their defense (which Salum also plays on) who have let in far too many points to remain competitive.

The Skorpions have remained average in almost every category since the season began. They excel at nothing but also have no gaping holes. This brand of football may not be as exciting to write about but they are efficient. The Skorpions almost never miss PATs, consistently convert on third-down and rarely give the ball to the opponent. 

Salum will be the most dangerous weapon on the field in this contest, but his wildly inconsistent play should play straight into the hands of the Skorpions who will be well on their way to a playoff spot if they can secure this victory.

Daniel Mackenzie is a Press Association graduate who works in journalism and communications in the third sector. Daniel began playing football for the London Warriors and Team Great Britain and has since played across Europe.