Having lost two of last season’s leading men in Romulo and Juan Iturbe, Hellas Verona will be aiming to prove that there is life after the duo, assesses Rossella Marrai.
Andrea Mandrolini’s side may have been considered I Butei, The Boys, when they marked their return back to Serie A at the start of the 2013-14 season, but with a second stint in the top-flight fast approaching, they will need to prove themselves as among of the big boys.
It won’t come easy, however, as another transfer window has seen some of their most promising talent leave the romantic city of Verona to find their own Romeo and Juliet love story at other clubs.
Romulo and Iturbe are the two most noticeable absentees from last season, and as the Gialloblu reported for pre-season in Bad Kleinkirchheim the latter had already parted ways. Iturbe flew off to the Eternal City of Rome, before Romulo was the next to jump off the balcony and head over to Juventus. And while the two may have left a gaping void in the Verona team, management has to be commended for their swift movement in bringing in replacements.
Nene has come into the squad to add an extra option up-front, while former Roma star Panagiotis Tachtsidis and national team compatriot Lazaros Christodoulopoulos have arrived to supply more depth in the midfield. Also joining the House of Montague is Mexico’s World Cup skipper Rafa Marquez. He will provide as a great defensive option in an area that probably needed the most work done to it.
Still, even with these arrivals, the departures of Iturbe and Romulo’s leave a cut as deep the one Romeo plastered through his heart, with pre-season results leaving fans’ hearts shattered.
Losses to Burnley, Inter and Napoli have seen Verona come crushing down from cloud nine, following a 4-0 win over Qatari side Al Khor in Austria, and they appear to still be on the look-out for pace and the right combinations.
Granted, it may be early days until their League opener against Atalanta on August 31, but Mandorlini needs to see his side putting in more convincing displays should he hope to take on the Capulets of Serie A with great success this season.
Having led Hellas Verona to a mid-table finish in their return to the top flight, Mandorlini has been trusted as the man to lead them further up the table. The 54-year-old may have seen the focal points of his squad transfer to greener pastures, but his ability to get the best out of a cohesive unit is expected to see them through.
Luca Toni rolled back the years in last season’s campaign, where he scored 20 goals for the Butei, and he will no doubt be eager to mirror the same form this season. At 37, the former Fiorentina hit-man can still be counted on to bang in some decisive strikes.
Despite being 35, Marquez is a welcome addition to the Hellas Verona backline and midfield. Not only does he bring experience, but he also adds solidity and a great sense of leadership to the team.
Mattia Valoti is one of the new arrivals at the Bentegodi this season, signing from Albinoleffe. Originally from the Milan youth set-up, the 21-year-old is following in his father’s footsteps by joining Verona. With versatility on his side, and the backing of regular game time, he could be knocking on the Azzurri door.
Rafael; MARTIC, R. MARQUES, Moras, LUNA; CHRISTODOULOPOULOS, TACHTSIDIS, Hallfredsson; NENE, Toni, Jankovic
The Butei managed to go on an impressive run during last season’s campaign that saw them linger above the midway mark in the standings for some time. But a late surge from Milan and a dip in form in the latter stages of the campaign meant a 10th place finish. This season the team will be marginally weaker, despite some good signings, but even so, it seems that a halfway point finish or just above is likeliest.
|Chanturia (Cluj)||FW||Cacia (released)||FW|
|Gollini (Manchester United)||GK||Martinho (Catania)||FW|
|Christodoulopoulos Bologna)||M||Cacciatore (Sampdoria)||D|
|Martic (San Gallo)||D||Albertazzi (Milan)||D|
|Guglielmi (Barletta)||D||Marquinho (Al Ittihad)||M|
|Valoti (Albinoleffe)||M||Cirigliano (River Plate)||M|
|Obbadi (Monaco)||M||Pillud (Racing Avellaneda)||D|
|Tachtsidis (Torino)||M||Donadel (Napoli)||M|
|Cappelluzzo (Siena)||FW||Iturbe (Roma)||FW|
|Nene (Cagliari)||FW||Donash (Cagliari)||M|
|Tactsidis (Torino)||M||Maietta (Bologna)||D|
|G. Rodriguez (Torino)||D||Donsah (Cagliari)||M|
|Luna (Aston Villa)||D||Romulo (Juventus)||M|
|Marquez (Leon)||D||Rabustic (Perugia)||FW|
|Andrade (Virtus Lanciano)||GK|
|De Vita (Virtus Lanciano)||FW|