Sunday 26 August will see Parma take on Spal in their first away game of the season, and in view of our second league fixture, we take a look at our upcoming opponents.

Spal is an acronym for Società Polisportiva Ars et Labor. The original club was established in Ferrara in 1907, initially as a religious and cultural organisation known as Ars et Labor. It became an independent sports club in 1913 and started using the name Spal.

The football team joined the FIGC in 1910, playing as Ferrara Football Club until 1919. Just three years later and with the name that is still used today, Spal reached the Championship semi-final. Meanwhile, in 1928 they played their first game at the new stadium. Refurbishments were completed as the years went by, and it is now dedicated to the memory of President Paolo Mazza.

It was under Mazza that Spal enjoyed their golden period. Having coached the team during the 1930s, he then took up the role of President in 1945. With the side first back in Serie B, they reached the top tier of Italian football for the first time in their history in 1950-51.

Spal would remain there until the end of the 1964 campaign, with this period including a fifth-place finish in 1960 and a Coppa Italia final in 1962. One of the star attractions back then was Oscar Massei, a player who joined Spal in 1959 and donned the Biancazzurra shirt until 1968. There were also a number of promising young players who featured for Spal, including Fabio Capello, Edoardo Reja and Luigi Delneri to name just a few. Interestingly, this trio all went on to enjoy successful coaching careers in later life. Spal spent one year in the second division during the 1964-65 campaign but were then straight back in Serie A the following season for a further three-year stint.

Mazza’s time with the club ended midway through the 1970s, with the team from Ferrara then playing in Serie B and C. However, Spal won the Serie C Coppa Italia in 1998-99 before then returning to Lega Pro in 2013-14 – notably after a number of ups and downs. Serie B promotion arrived in 2015-16, as well as success in the Lega Supercoppa. Serie A promotion arrived the following season.

SPAL 2018-19

In terms of last season, Spal avoided relegation from Serie A by finishing 17th place with 38 points. Meanwhile, the summer saw the club retain Paloschi, Kurtic Salamon and Gomis, while also bringing in Petagna, Valdifiori, Djourou, Valoti, Moncini, Fares, Dickmann, Bonifazi, V. Milinkovic-Savic, Nikolic and Katuma.

Leonardo Semplici is the man still in charge and has been at the club since 2014, previously guiding them to two successive promotions. Born in 1967, he started his coaching career with Sangimignano in 2004. After getting them promoted in Serie D he then moved to Figline the following year. Here he won three league titles in four seasons, taking the team to the top flight of Lega Pro. He then enjoyed spells with Arezzo and Pisa before working with Fiorentina youth teams. With the Viola Primavera, he helped to discover the young talents of Capezzi, Camporese and Bernardeschi.

During their first game of the Serie A TIM season, Spal beat Bologna 1-0 away from home. Notably, Spal will play their first home game of the season against the Crociati at the Stadio Dall’Ara. This is due to renovation work that is still being completed at the Stadio Mazza.