Coppa Italia: Round 3 / Team rating: [8/10] / Top scorer: Samuel Di Carmine (8) / Europe: N/A
Little was expected of Verona following promotion via the play-offs and no transfer budget, but Ivan Juric formed an impressive team, writes Gaspare Marsala.
As the Serie A campaign comes to an end, newly promoted Hellas Verona can look back on their 2019-20 season with pride, as they managed to not only survive comfortably, but finish in ninth place and for a while challenge for a Europa League spot.
Having gained promotion to Serie A through a Serie B play-off, the expectations for the club where somewhat low at the start of the season, and with new coach Ivan Juric replacing Alfredo Aglietti, it was understood that patience would be a virtue. Their transfer kitty was non-existent, players brought in for free or on loan. The season began average, a series of draws and losses showed off a little of the rust that was still burdening this team, but goals were coming , as they netted 13 in their first 15 matches. As the season dragged on, progress was being made by Juric and his men, key players like Matteo Pessina and Sofyan Amrabat began to step up with decisive performances. A streak of nine games unbeaten, including a win over Juventus and draws away to Lazio and Milan, slingshot Hellas up the table and confidence was at an all-time high. They were as high as sixth place in Week 25, in the running for the Europa League positions.
COVID put a halt to world football and a lockdown was put in place, throwing off any rhythm or progress the team had made thus far. When action resumed, Verona struggled to recreate that initial intensity, putting together a series of stalemates and losses. Thoughts had already moved on to next season, especially as players like Amrabat and Amir Rrahmani had already been sold, with Marash Kumbulla expected to follow. Juric signed on to remain at the Bentegodi, but his team will probably look very different.
The Coach – Ivan Juric
Wrapping up his first season in charge of I Mastini, Juric has made quite the name for himself as a mini Gian Piero Gasperini. After all, he was Gasp’s player at Genoa for several years, then becoming his assistant manager at Inter and Palermo, learning that tactical approach inside out. Both focus on high intensity, quick passing and pressing all over the field, never taking a passive stance. It’s what made Verona such effective giant-killers and it is to his credit that Juric decided to sign a new contract at the Bentegodi, despite interest from bigger clubs.
Player of the Year – Davide Faraoni
Now 28 years old, Davide Faraoni has had quite the career playing for teams such as Inter and Watford just looking to establish himself as a footballer, but struggling to play on a consistent basis. Now in his second season in Verona coming from Serie B, the former Inter fullback has seemed to finally find his place and is proving to be a dangerous player to go up against with his driving forward runs and long range strikes. With five goals and three assists this season, Faraoni has been one of the most consistent players in Serie A. Now with the Euros moved to next summer, there is a shot for the now seasoned Faraoni to prove his worth and fight for a spot on the national team as well as continue to help Verona reach their peak.
Highlight – Breaking Juventus
The Serie A leaders had already lost to Lazio and Napoli by this stage, but the February defeat at the Bentegodi was still a huge shock. It was more than anything thoroughly deserved, as Verona out-played, out-pressed and out-fought Juventus, taking the victory with a late Giampaolo Pazzini penalty.
Nightmare – Sassuolo comeback
The potential Europa League dream evaporated when Verona let two points slip from their fingers at the Mapei Stadium in Week 28. They had been 3-1 up away from home with 13 minutes left on the clock, but Jeremie Boga and then a last-gasp rocket deep into stoppages from Rogerio snatched a 3-3 draw for Sassuolo.
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