Hellas Verona have continued to ride the wave of good form that they enjoyed in Italian football’s lower leagues over the past few seasons at the beginning of their current Serie A campaign, starting with a remarkable opening-day victory at home against Milan.
As a newly-promoted outfit, Andrea Mandorlini’s side were perhaps not expected to get a result against Champions League competitors Milan, but they didn’t let an excellently worked Andrea Poli opener on 13 minutes dampen their spirits, and topple them they did.
In the end the win was thanks to a double from Luca Toni: the ex-Juve striker climbed highest to head home from a corner just before the half-hour mark, before sending the fans in the Stadio Marc’Antonio Bentegodi into raptures when he headed in a glorious outside-of-the-foot cross from loan signing Bosko Jankovic that the Rossoneri had no answer to.
In their next game away at Roma, the Gialloblu were outplayed by a ruthless Giallorossi side and were unable to avoid conceding three at the Stadio Olimpico. Having come under fire throughout – Roma had 25 shots – credit should go to Hellas Verona goalkeeper Rafael, without whose excellent performance it could have been worse.
But their next result against Sassuolo delivered another important win, and proved that they won’t need to rely solely on Luca Toni for goals this season, because it was two Brazilians that netted against the team that pipped them to the Serie B top spot last year. It was also a game that showed the Gialloblu’s ability to weather huge opposition pressure on goal to secure a result at home.
Raphael Martinho was the provider of the first goal, after some merciless pressing in the final third saw the ball fall to Emil Hallfredsson, who then slipped a pass to the Brazilian. His compatriot Rômulo netted a tap-in to make it 2-0, and the three points were Hellas Verona’s.
They have also made a good start to the Coppa Italia, beating Gennaro Gattuso’s Palermo side 1-0 in the third round thanks to another headed goal from Luca Toni, surely the Hellas Verona weapon that Juve will have to most be careful of when they line up against the Gialloblu on Sunday
Mandorlini’s men currently find themselves in a very respectable eighth position in the Serie A table, and having not won two out of their first three Serie A games since the Scudetto-winning 1984/85 season they will be hoping that they can maintain such impressive form.