Parma Panthers stun reigning Italian champs Firenze Guelfi with huge upset win

In one of the most shocking wins of the season, the Panthers Parma have defeated Italian Football League (IFL) reigning champions Guelfi Firenze 25–7 this past weekend. 

There were few indicators prior to kickoff that the tidal wave that had been the Guelfi would slow. In the five games before their contest with Parma, Firenze racked up 32 touchdowns and just under 2,300 yards of offense. To put this in perspective, the next team down, the Dolphins – who have been on a tear of their own – have managed just 24 touchdowns and 1400 yards.

In addition to this, the Panthers have not been playing their best football. Just two years ago they hoisted the Italian Bowl trophy in an undefeated season. This year, they lost their home opener and have barely scraped two victories against mid- to low-table teams.

Parma QB Anthony Paoletti battling for yardage Photo: Luigi Felisa

Despite the odds being overwhelmingly in favor of the Guelfi, the Panthers took it to them from the first snap. One of the keys to their success was undoubtedly their ability to stop the run. Former Southeastern Louisiana (NCAA, DI) linebacker Alexis Ramos and Western Oregon (NCAA, DII) defensive back Ryan Minniti proved to be thorns in the side of the Guelfi rushing attack. Both Ramos and Minniti led the team with seven tackles each and held a team used to rushing for nearly 300 yards a game to just 145.

The other key to Parma’s success was their ability to finally get the running game going. Prior to their matchup with Guelfi they managed just 440 yards in three games. This weekend however, they managed to rack up 242 yards and two touchdowns, with quarterback Anthony Paoletti accounting for 104 of those.

Photo: Daniele Bettazzi

The Guelfi defense offered what it has all season in terms of points allowed, it was their offense’s inability to score that was the shocker. After starting the season so poorly, Parma will have completely reignited their season with this mammoth win. For the Guelfi on the other hand, they will surely be licking their wounds and hoping for a speedy recovery from injured starting Italian quarterback Andrea Fimiani.

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.