Coppa Italia: Round of 16 / Team rating: 6 / Top scorer: Toni (22)
Although they did not better their 10th-placed finish from last season, Hellas Verona proved that the absence of a young starlet could be mitigated by the presence of a wily veteran, reports Michelle Bonsu.
At the start of the season, Hellas Verona’s mission was simple: avoid a sophomore season slump. After an impressive showing during the 2013-14 which was their first Serie A appearance in 11 seasons, the Gialloblu surprised many by finishing in 10th place to ensure top flight football for yet another term.
This time around, they had to settle for 13th spot, but will be around to battle it out among the top 20 sides in Italy for yet another campaign. Despite securing salvation though, fans were surely at times frustrated, yet entertained somewhat by their stop start performances this season.
Just as things would seem to be getting back on track with a ground-out draw followed by a morale-inspiring win, Verona would be firmly brought back down to earth with three straight losses, dropping valuable points that could have easily seen them finish in the top ten yet again.
There were truly some low points, namely losing 10-1 on aggregate to Juventus in the span of just three dark days in January (first a 6-1 mauling in the Coppa Italia Round of 16 followed by a 4-0 humiliation in league play on January 18).
And the lack of consistency shown between the away and home performances – for instance, losing 6-2 to Napoli on the road, but beating the same Partenopei 2-0 at home – will be something coach Andrea Mandorlini will have to mull over as he looks to further enhance his squad this summer.
Still, the departure of Juan Iturbe was not as keenly felt as some had anticipated. And Luca Toni, who is approaching the twilight of a glittering career was again the go-to man in his second season in Verona, with his 22 goals more often than not making the difference between a draw and a loss, or three points earned versus one point scraped.
A solid job done by Mandorlini in his second term with Verona in Serie A. Despite the departure of young starlet Juan Iturbe, he managed his team efficiently throughout what was nothing short of a roller-coaster ride of a season. However, his team’s over-reliance on ageing striker Luca Toni for yet another campaign will be concerning.
Despite celebrating his 38th birthday in May, Luca Toni again turned back the years with another excellent performance for his club. Last season saw him net 21 times in all competitions and this season he bettered that by making it 23 in 39 appearances. What’s next for the veteran next campaign?
- Luca Toni’s 22 league goals and joint-capocannoniere prize make him the eldest ever recipient in Italian football history at age 38.
- Save for Rounds 2 and 3, and then 31 and 32, Verona were never able to win more than two games in a row this season.
- Verona were the strongest team in the air this season, winning 54.6 per cent of their aerial duels.
|22||GK||Francesco Benussi||15 (1)||-||-|
|2||D||Guillermo Rodríguez||11 (2)||-||-|
|5||D||Frederik Sørensen||6 (4)||-||1|
|25||D||Rafael Marques||14 (4)||-||-|
|28||D||Davide Brivio||12 (1)|
|33||D||Alessandro Agostini||21 (1)||-||1|
|40||D||Alejandro González||3 (2)||-||-|
|71||D||Ivan Martić||13 (3)||-||1|
|8||M||Mounir Obbadi||14 (8)||1||1|
|19||M||Leandro Greco||16 (9)||-||1|
|23||M||Artur Ionita||13 (5)||2||1|
|11||M||Bosko Jankovic||17 (1)||1||2|
|30||M||Gustavo Campanharo||4 (11)||-||-|
|27||M||Mattia Valoti||1 (9)||1||1|
|10||M||Emil Hallfredsson||26 (2)||1||9|
|21||M||Juanito Gómez||20 (6)||6||3|
|20||M||Lazaros Christodoulopoulos||12 (10)||1||5|
|17||M||Nico López||10 (14)||5||2|
|7||M||Javier Saviola||4 (11)||1||2|
|9||F||Luca Toni||36 (2)||22||2|
|93||F||Mohamed Fares||0 (1)||-||-|