Nicknamed the Gialloblu or the Mussi Volanti (meaning Flying Donkeys in Venetian dialect), the club from the small Verona suburb of Chievo is a David amongst the Goliaths of Serie A, continuing to punch above its weight despite a comparatively small fanbase.
The club was formed in 1929 by a small group of friends, but had a trying early history in which it was forced by the Fascist regime to adopt the name O.N.D Chievo and then had no choice but to disband because of economic difficulties in 1936.
It got back up and running after World War II, but competed in the very lowest echelons of Italian football until a moment that would completely change the course of its fate: the arrival of cake-magnate Luigi Campedelli as chairman in 1964.
The owner of the Paluani company oversaw a remarkable rise all the way up to Serie C1 in 1989, and changed the team’s name to its current one. When he died the following year, his son Luca was installed as chairman at just 23 years old.
But the youngster didn’t let his relative inexperience stop him, leading the club to a historic promotion to Serie A in 2001. Then, in their first season in the top flight, Chievo Verona managed an incredible fifth place finish – even topping the table for six consecutive weeks - despite being widely tipped to be prime contenders for relegation.
But on the final day of the 2006/07 season, Chievo Verona were unable to get the draw that they needed against Catania to stay up, and they went down to Serie B after six years in the Italian top flight.
However, they bounced back at the first opportunity and have been there ever since. Despite struggling for much of last season, the arrival of Eugenio Corini coupled with their pragmatic, result-orientated style of football saw them beat the drop with a 16th placed finish and they will hope for a more solid campaign this year.
Chievo Verona share the Stadio Marc’Antonio Bentegodi with Derby della Scala rivals Hellas Verona, although they tend to a attract a smaller audience than Andrea Mandorlini’s men. The difference in the size of the fanbase of both teams was highlighted in the derbies during the 2001/02 Serie A campaign, when the Chievo Verona fans were seated in the away end of the ground even though the Mussi Volanti were the designated home side.
The 42,160-seater arena was inaugurated in 1963, and a roof was constructed for Italia ’90, the World Cup in which it hosted the last-16 game between Spain and Yugoslavia.
Not full of flair players, but by no means short of men who are able to perform well on a weekly basis, the 2013/14 Chievo Verona outfit can best be described as solid, and they will no doubt be the same in this year’s campaign.
Team captain Sergio Pellissier, who is suspended for this weekend’s clash, has been a mainstay at the club since 2002 and continues to lead the Chievo line. He scored a memorable hat-trick away at Juventus in 2009, a season in which his stellar performances saw him called up for the Italian national side by Marcello Lippi, and has now netted 111 in total for the Gialloblu.
Having featured on over 70 occasions for the Slovenian national side, Bostjan Cesar has also played in a whole host of countries including Croatia, France and England. The last four years with Chievo have seen him make over 100 appearances, scoring four goals.
Ivan Radovanovic is a versatile member of the Chievo squad and Serbian national side, able to operate as sweeper in addition to his customary role of defensive midfielder. The 25-year-old’s career in Italy began at Atalanta before subsequent impressive loan spells at Pisa, Bologna and Novara saw him move to the Verona-based side.
Finnish international Perparim Hetemaj continues to be a prominent figure for Corini‘s side, having made almost a centenary of appearances for the Gialloblu and recently signed a new deal to pledge his future to the club. The 27-year-old box-to-box midfielder has a knack for making late runs into the penalty area and is adept at long-range passing.
With 16 signings, Chievo have been one of the busier teams during the transfer market and Juventus.com have profiled the pick of the Gialloblu’s business from pre-season.
Inter Milan duo Francesco Bardi and Cristiano Biraghi will both ply their trade at Chievo during the coming campaign. Highly-rated young goalkeeper Bardi has joined on a season-long loan whilst left back Biraghi has signed a two-year loan deal.
Also bolstering the team’s rearguard is former Italian international Alessandro Gamberini, who arrives from Napoli to plug a backline which conceded 54 goals last season.
Former Catania club captain Mariano Izco signed for the Gialloblu in early August and adds a wealth of experience following eight years in Italy’s top flight. The Argentine brings versatility to Corini’s ranks thanks to his ability to operate anywhere down the right flank and as a central midfielder.
28-year-old winger Valter Birsa arrives on loan from Milan after a frustrating year at the San Siro. The Slovenian international will bring fresh attacking impetus to a Gialloblu side that could only muster 34 goals last season. Birsa himself will hope to rejuvenate the form that saw him interest Premier League sides Liverpool and Tottenham in the past.
Born in Buenos Aires, Ezequiel Schelotto is a full Italian international having won his only cap for the Azzurri in a friendly against England in 2012. The 25-year-old winger has played for a whole host of clubs in Italy including Cesena (twice), Atalanta, Catania, Inter, Sassuolo and more recently Parma where he notched four goals in 16 appearances during a six-month loan spell. Known as El Galgo due to his running skills, Schelotto will spend the 2014/15 Serie A campaign on loan at the Bentegodi and will no doubt be ready to play an important role in the Gialloblu attack.
Serie A stalwart Maxi Lopez offers a bit of flair to the Verona-based outfit after spending the previous four campaigns in Italy with Catania, Milan and Sampdoria. The 30-year-old, who lifted the Champions League with Barcelona in 2006, has penned a one-year contract with the option for a second season.
One for the Bianconeri defenders to keep an eye on is last season’s top scorer Alberto Paloschi, who made his three-year loan a permanent switch after hitting 15 goals in 36 appearances for the Gialloblu.
Eugenio Corini returned to the Chievo Verona hotseat on 12 November 2013, trading places with Giuseppe Sannino after initially departing the club by mutual consent at the end of the previous campaign.
The 44-year-old’s professional playing career lasted 23 years during which he featured at nine different clubs, including the Bianconeri, before confirming his retirement from the game due to a persistent injury at the end of the 2008/09 campaign.
Having captained the Gialloblu to Serie A promotion in 2001 and UEFA Cup qualification in the following season, Corini’s return as head coach began on 2 October 2012 when he replaced Domenico Di Carlo.
He led the club to a respectable 12th placed finish during the 2012/13 campaign but opted to stand down from his position once the season had drawn to a close. Corini’s return to Verona last year saw him steer the Gialloblu away from danger and ensure an eight consecutive year in Italy’s top flight.