Hellas Verona: A rough guide
Written by Rory Mitchinson
United will take on newly-promoted Serie A side Hellas Verona at St. James’ Park on Sunday, 6th August, rounding off their pre-season campaign.
It will be their third assignment against continental opposition this summer, and here, we take a closer look at what the Magpies can expect from the Gialloblu…
LAST SEASON: Just like United, Verona bounced back to their respective top flight at the first time of asking, finishing second in Serie B. Fabio Pecchia’s side led the way for much of the campaign, though – in the end – it was only their superior goal difference which made sure of their promotion spot. The Gialloblu just missed out on the title to SPAL, but held off a late charge from Frosinone to seal their place among Italy’s elite.
THE MANAGER: Rafa Benítez’s assistant at Napoli, Real Madrid and latterly United, Pecchia replaced Luigi Delneri as Verona boss following the club’s relegation to Serie B. A midfielder by trade, he enjoyed an accomplished playing career, representing Italy at Under-21 level before picking up a Serie A winners’ medal with Juventus.
Highly rated by Benítez, Pecchia also has a law degree through the University of Naples.
THE PLAYERS: Having joined the club in 2010, Brazilian stopper Nícolas Andrade finally established himself as Verona’s No. 1 last term, playing all 42 games in Serie B. Left-back Samuel Souprayen – capped by France at Under-21 level – barely missed a kick himself, though there is a void to fill on the opposite flank, with Eros Pisano having joined Championship side Bristol City yesterday. Centre-halves Matteo Bianchetti and Antonio Caracciolo each clocked up more than 30 appearances last season.
In Pisano’s absence, versatile Rômulo could deputise at right-back. If not, the 30-year-old can be expected to line up in midfield, likely alongside Daniel Bessa and Marco Fossati. The former – who linked up with Internazionale after leaving his native Brazil as a youngster – chipped in with eight goals as the Gialloblu returned to Serie A.
Verona’s leading marksman last term, however, was skipper Giampaolo Pazzini. Now 32, Pazzini was a member of the Italy squad at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, and turned out for both Milan clubs after a prolific spell with Sampdoria. Other options up front include Simone Ganz, Davide Luppi and Luca Siligardi, all of whom netted important goals in the closing months of the campaign.
ANYTHING ELSE? Italian champions in 1985, Verona will renew their rivalry with Chievo this season, with both clubs calling the city’s Stadio Marc’Antonio Bentegodi their home.