After a period of 11 years out of the Italian top flight, Hellas Verona have announced their return to Serie A this term in spectacular fashion.
Andrea Mandorlini’s men were widely expected to face a tough campaign back in the big time, but they have been one of the standout sides so far in 2013-14.
Attacking football has seen the Stadio Marc’Antonio Bentegodi outfit claim victories against the likes of Lazio (4-1) and AC Milan (2-1), and at the time of writing the side sit in eighth place, 15 points above the relegation places.
However, despite the strong start to life back in Serie A, there have been worrying signs that the club may well be starting to struggle slightly. Hellas have lost their last three games, and as such have a massive clash this weekend.
The Gialloblu face fellow newly promoted side Sassuolo away from home, and need to get back into the habit of picking up points. The hosts have found the going in Serie A decidedly more difficult, and are in need of a win to lift them away from relegation danger, while with champions Juventus up after this for Hellas, Mandorlini’s men could well be facing the prospect of five defeats on the trot.
Hellas’ rise to prominence has not gone unnoticed, and one of their star players has left the club this January as a result. The financial clout and allure of prospective Champions League football that Napoli had on offer was enough to see highly rated Jorginho move to San Paolo.
The talented young Brazilian will be a miss for Hellas, who will have a job on their hands to replace the midfielder.
Despite Jorginho’s exit, a number of star men still remain for the Verona-based outfit, who will look to consolidate their start in Serie A with more strong results. The starting XI is an enviable blend of established, experienced heads and gifted youngsters.
Evergreen Luca Toni leads the line for the Veronese outfit, and has proven that he still has what it takes to consistently hit the back of the net at the top level. The 36-year-old has scored nine league goals in 18 appearances this term and the club’s young stars clearly look up to the former Italy international.
One man who looks right at home in Italy is Juan Iturbe, who seems to be finally living up to his hype as one of the many stars labeled as the ‘next Lionel Messi.’ Although the Porto loanee is not comparable to his illustrious countryman, the 20-year-old has shown the individual skill, technical ability and creativity to suggest that he can be a real star in Serie A as he matures.
Hellas has impressed with the amount of goals they have scored this season (35 in 21 games), but have had a fair share of goals scored against them also (34). Mandorlini’s side have only kept two clean sheets this season, and one feels that if the side can shore up their rearguard then relegation will not be a threat at all.
Hellas look comfortable at this level, but need to stop their recent run of defeats. Crowned as Italian champions back in 1984-85, the club looks like it can compete in Serie A for the foreseeable future.