The Parma Panthers will face the Bolzano Giants in the Italian semifinals June 21 marking the 10th consecutive season the Panthers have qualified for the semifinals in Italy.
Nevertheless, the Panthers enter the game against only one of the two teams to beat them this season. The Giants upended Parma 32-20 earlier in the year while in the return in Parma, the Panthers won 24-13.
This will be the third time these two teams have faced each other in the Italian semifinals. In 2006 Parma beat the Giants 34-26 and then in 2010 did it again this time by a score of 21-20.
Parma quarterback Tommaso Monardi is now a playoff veteran having played in six straight with the Panthers and is known for his good game management. He has thrown for 1,700 yards so far and 14 touchdowns this year and has a bevy of receivers to choose from including Tommaso Finadri who had 46 receptions this year for 644 yards and five touchdowns.
A key factor in this one may be the Giants run defense as they have had a tough time against the run this year and they will be facing the power running of ex NFL Giant Joe Martinek. This could be a key to the game.
However, Giants head coach Argeo Tisma and his squad held the Ancona Dolphins to only one touchdown in the quarterfinals and hope to continue to improve their defense. Safety Paul Morant is a true ballhawk and Monardi will have to keep a look out for him in the secondary. Bolzano national team defensive lineman Diego Gennaro is highly active and causes problems for opposition running backs.
Bolzano quarterback Steve Adams has thrown for 1,600 yards and 13 touchdowns this season and one of his main targets has been receiver Marco Bonacci.
This game is also hard to predict. Parma head coach Andrew Papoccia has been in this situation before himself with the Panthers, both as a player and coach, and both. He will have his troops ready for the pressure that a semifinal matchup entails.
The Panthers won the most recent game against Bolzano and hope the momentum will carry them through to their sixth consecutive appearance in the championship game.