Hellas Verona Season Preview: Striving for Serie A relevance
Serie A veteran and Verona Captain Giampaolo Pazzini
Photo credit Pier Marco Tacca/Getty Images

Hellas Verona Season Preview: Striving for Serie A relevance

Newly promoted Hellas Verona are back in Serie A and want to prove that they can stay up

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Elaine Donati

Hellas Verona FC has exactly one Scudetto to their name, earned in 1985, in a campaign that was considered nothing short of miraculous. The rest of their history involves tours of duty in Serie B marked with valiant efforts in Serie A. Having been relegated at the end of the 2016-17 season, they earned their ticket back to Serie A this year via the promotion playoffs after finishing fifth in Serie B in the 2018-19 season.

This year, they will be fighting to maintain their place in Serie A, while their incredibly devoted fans will likely be praying for a much bigger miracle, maybe even a repeat of their Scudetto season. However, maintaining Serie A status will be more than challenging enough for a club that is economically dwarfed by most other clubs in the top flight.

The fans may just have to settle for continuing to celebrate that their hated rivals, Chievo Verona, were relegated to Serie B last season, having finished dead last in Serie A. Hellas owner Maurizio Setti is undoubtedly praying that his team do not suffer that same fate this year.

Summer Transfer Market

The Gialloblu have improved their squad this summer with some important purchases. They picked up former Genoa midfielders Miguel Veloso and Darko Lazovic on free transfers, as well as 32-year-old centre back Salvatore Bocchetti, also on a free transfer, after leaving Spartak Moscow. Additionally, they purchased 25-year-old centre back Amir Rrhamani from Dinamo Zagreb for €2 million.

Tragically, one of their new acquisitions, central midfielder Emmanuel Badu, who joined the club on loan from Udinese, was hospitalized this week with a small blood clot in his lung. Though he posted to social media that he was doing better, it is unknown as of yet if and when he will be able to play again.

Having helped the club secure promotion while on loan from other clubs, Verona purchased the following players outright: Polish centre back Pawel Dawidowicz from Benfica for a fee of €3.5 million, striker Samuel Di Carmine from Perugia for €2.5 million, left-winger Antonio Di Gaudio from Parma for €1.5 million, and left winger Antonio Ragusa from Atalanta for a fee of €1 million, Juventus centre back Luca Marrone for €1 million, and right back Davide Faraoni from Crotone for €300,000.

Additionally, Verona took some younger new players on loan, including winger Gennaro Tutino from Napoli, centre back Koray Günter from Genoa, goalkeeper Boris Radunovic from Atalanta, and midfielder Valerio Verre from Sampdoria. They are also looking to possibly take right back 21-year-old Claud Adjapong on loan from Sampdoria, but that deal has not been completed as of this writing.

Manager

Verona is coached by former Croatian midfielder Ivan Juric. After a footballing career spanning teams from Croatia to Spain to Italy, Juric began his coaching career first with the youth teams of his former Genoa, then as an assistant to Gian Piero Gasperini at Inter, then Palermo.

His biggest success was as head coach of Serie B side Crotone, whom he guided to promotion in Serie A for the first time in their history in 2015-16. This feat also earned him the Panchina d’Argento (Silver Bench) award, which is awarded annually to the best coach outside of Serie A to earn promotion for their club.

After three separate and short-lived spells coaching Genoa, he was appointed in June to lead Hellas Verona in their quest to maintain Serie A status this season.

Players to Watch

Rather than just one player, keep an eye on Verona’s centre backs. Having heavily reinforced their defence, they have two more experienced centre backs in 32-year-old Salvatore Bocchetti and the 29-year-old Luca Marrone.

Bocchetti has experience in Serie A and also five caps for the Italian senior national team, whereas Marrone has Serie A experience that has primarily been limited due to sitting behind some of the best centre backs in the world at Juventus. Neither of those players is world-class, but for a club like Verona, their experience is priceless.

Additionally, Verona has invested in three younger centre backs. Pawel Dawidowicz is only 24 years old and while surplus at Benfica B, he’s got an impressive number of appearances for them as well as the clubs he’s been loaned to and has already been capped for Poland’s senior national team.

Amir Rrahmani is an impressive 6’4” (1.92 meters) at 25 years old and already has 208 appearances for his collective club teams in his senior career. He is a regular starter for Kosovo’s senior team and has also featured for Albania in the past. Koray Günter is only 24 years old, but he has first-team experiences in the Bundesliga, in Turkey, and in Serie A, having played for Genoa.

Together, these five players are a great mix of youth and experience, and will likely provide a difficult choice for Juric as he chooses his starting eleven each week.

The Future of Hellas Verona

There is a young Brazilian midfielder that is being promoted from Verona’s youth team called Lucas Felippe. The 19-year-old typically plays centrally but is also able to play on the left or as an attacking left midfielder.

Felippe scored seven goals in 17 appearances in the league last season for Verona’s Primavera (U17) team and tallied four assists as well. At a bigger club, he might not get enough time to prove himself, but for the Gialloblu, there is a good chance that he will get some playing time and perhaps even be a bit of a breakout this season. And if not now, he is certainly one to watch for the future.

Predicted Finish

All things considered this year, Verona will be lucky to stay in Serie A. There are just too many teams above them with more money and stronger teams.  Finishing 15th would be an accomplishment this time around and it would be great for the league to see a club with their history and passion continuing to battle in the top flight.

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