Since returning to the top flight in 2019, Hellas Verona has established itself as one of Italy’s most compact sides, surprising Italy’s giants at every turn. Ivan Juric has done a wonderful job in Verona, leading the side to unprecedented heights. Just last season, Hellas Verona was in an unlikely race for Europa League football, up until the latter stages of the year. They still managed to finish in the top half of the table in their first season back in the top flight – an impressive feat on its own.
Many expected them to take a step back this season after the departures of key men, but Juric’s side has shown no signs of slowing down. After all, Marash Kumbulla joined Roma while Sofyan Amrabat returned to Fiorentina – two of the side’s most important players last season.
Despite their departures, Hellas Verona has picked up from where exactly they left off last year, attempting to consolidate itself in the top half of the table. What is perhaps most remarkable is their record against Italy’s top six. Hellas Verona has demonstrated they can compete with Italy’s best clubs, holding Roma, Milan, and Juventus to a draw, all-while beating Atalanta and Lazio.
Hellas Verona’s success largely lies in their tactical discipline and overall commitment to Juric’s system. The Croatian tactician deploys his men in a 3-4-2-1 of sorts, with both wingbacks playing a crucial role both in and out of possession. Hellas Verona has proven to be incredibly difficult to break down thus far, conceding a mere 14 goals on the season.
Marco Silvestri plays a large part in this, organizing Hellas Verona’s rearguard from between the posts. The Italian shot-stopper remains one of Italy’s most underrated goalkeepers, offering Juric a safe pair of hands. Silvestri has often proved to be the difference for Hellas Verona in tight games, making sensational saves to keep them in it.
Koray Gunter is another integral piece to Juric’s puzzle, occupying the central position of the back three. The German has stepped up since Kumbulla’s departure, excelling at the heart of the defense. Summer arrival Mert Cetin has also impressed in his four appearances this season, but it is Matteo Lovato that has established himself as a starter.
The 20-year-old spent last season on loan with Padova and has made the step up to the top flight look a seamless one. Lovato has since been linked with a number of Italy’s giants, including Juventus and Inter. Despite his inexperience, the former Padova man exudes calmness in possession and can go toe-to-toe with imposing strikers. Between Gunter, Lovato, and Silvestri, Hellas Verona’s defense is as resolute as they come.
In many ways, however, it is Juric’s ability to keep them motivated week in, week out, that makes the difference. The Croatian international is Hellas Verona’s X Factor and will be eager to continue leading them into new territory. Atalanta and Sassuolo may steal the headlines and acclaim from calcio’s neutrals, but make no mistake about it, Hellas Verona’s rise has been just as compelling.
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