Juventus
    05.01.2016 20:00 - in: Serie A S

    The view on Verona

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    As the Gialloblu get set to face the Bianconeri for the 52nd time ever in Serie A, Juventus.com looks at the history, manager and current form of Wednesday’s opponents in Turin
    History

    Founded in 1903, Hellas Verona counts among one of Italy’s oldest clubs. Starting off in the regional division of Veneto and Emilia and then the Northern and old national league, the Gialloblu were admitted to Serie B upon the restructuring of the Italian football pyramid in 1929.

    The team has spent the majority of its 113-year existence in the country’s second tier, barring nine seasons spent in Serie C in two separate spells and eight stints in Serie A, beginning with their promotion as champions in 1957, only to be relegated the following campaign.

    Following one of the quieter decades in the club’s rollercoaster ride of a history, Verona reached the top-flight again in 1968 and they made a much better fist of things, with a number of mid-table finishes before their demotion to Serie B six years later.

    After the next eight years spent yo-yoing between the top two tiers and losing the 1976 Coppa Italia final to Napoli, the club enjoyed its most fruitful period of all in the 80s, when Osvaldo Bagnoli led the Gialloblu to an impressive fourth place in 1983, another cup final in 1984 (won by Roma) and an historic Scudetto title in 1985.

    This last achievement triggered a series of memorable European nights for Bagnoli’s men, including their reaching the Champions League last 16 in 1986 after a brace from legendary Danish striker Preben Elkjaer in each leg of their tie against PAOK Salonicco. In 1988, the Gialloblu went as far as they have ever gone in continental competition – the UEFA Cup quarter-finals, where they were eliminated by Werder Bremen.

    Cesare Prandelli steered Verona to promotion as Serie B champions in 1999 and a ninth-place finish in the top-flight the following season.

    Domestically, meanwhile, the club was unable to prolong its golden years beyond what had been a quite staggering decade, as financial problems and plenty of player turnover accompanied their fall to Serie B in 1990.

    After going bankrupt the following campaign, Verona twice experienced promotions to and immediate relegations from the top-flight before Cesare Prandelli oversaw a more distinguished couple of seasons, in which they finished ninth in Serie A in 2000. However, the biggest decline in the club’s history was yet to come, culminating in their drop down to the third tier in 2007 and a near-escape from plummeting to the fourth rung of Italian football, when they edged a nervy play-off against Pro Patria in May 2008.

    Having survived that scare, the Gialloblu endured a couple of close promotion-misses, before Andrea Mandorlini stepped in halfway through the 2010/11 campaign and led the club to Serie B at the first time of asking, beating Salernitana in a play-off.

    The team’s positive run in these end-of-season double-legged affairs was eventually broken after losing out to Varese in the 2012 promotion decider, but their second-place finish in 2013 earned them a return to the Promised Land after an 11-year absence.

    Verona made light work of their first two campaigns back in the big time, which they ended 10th and 13th respectively, talismanic forward Luca Toni breaking the club’s record with 22 goals in a single season last year.

    2015/16, however, has been a very different story, with the bottom-placed side still looking for its maiden league win this term.

    Manager

    Luigi Del Neri is no stranger to the Bianconeri, having managed the club during the 2010/11 season. After hanging up his boots as a midfielder (playing most notably for Foggia, Udinese, Sampdoria and Vicenza), Del Neri embarked on a coaching career now spanning 31 years.

    The 65-year-old, who hails from the north-east Italian town of Aquileia, initially plied his trade in the lower leagues, helping the likes of Ravenna, Nocerina and Ternana to promotion from Italy’s fourth division in the 90s before taking the reins at Chievo in 2000.

    Upon guiding the Flying Donkeys to the top-flight in his first season at the club, Del Neri established them as a force to be reckoned with in Serie A and even led them to UEFA Cup qualification after finishing fifth in 2002.

    Consistently high performances in the league until 2004 attracted the attentions of then-reigning European champions Porto, who appointed him as Jose Mourinho’s replacement, but his experience abroad ended before the season had even begun.

    His return to Italy did not immediately result in an upturn in fortunes, with spells at Roma and Palermo short-lived, before returning to Chievo, who he was unable to prevent from being relegated to Serie B in 2007.

    Luigi Del Neri has gained two points from his opening three league matches as Verona coach, drawing with both Milan and Sassuolo in December.

    His two years at Atalanta brought about credible mid-table finishes (9th and 11th) before achieving arguably his greatest feat since his initial period at Chievo, that of steering Sampdoria to a fourth place and Champions League berth in 2010.

    Del Neri spent the following season in the Juventus dugout before heading back to Genoa, this time to manage the Rossoblu. After a three-year-long break from the game, his considerable managerial experience has now been called upon by a Verona side fighting for Serie A survival.

    Season’s summary

    Verona’s first victory of the season still eludes them as they enter Wednesday’s match at Juventus Stadium. Never before in their entire existence have they gone the first 17 matches without winning a game. In addition, their current points total of eight represents their lowest ever at this stage of a top-flight campaign.

    No team has ever beaten the drop with the above tally, but if the Gialloblu are to rewrite the history books this year, one man crucial to their efforts will surely be Luca Toni.

    The former Italy international forward holds the club record for the most amount of goals in a season, his 22 last term, and he’ll be looking to add to his two strikes in as many matches against Milan and Sassuolo respectively.

    In what has been a very difficult year so far for Verona, there have been bright displays from 23-year-old midfielder Federico Viviani, who has chipped in with three assists, winger Leandro Greco, who has 37 dribbles and tackles to his name, and right-back Jacopo Sala, who has completed 72 crosses and intercepted 29 opposition balls forward. All of the above statistics are team-highs for 2015/16.

    The Bianconeri will also need to be wary of the danger that the visitors pose from set pieces. They have scored ten of their season’s total of 12 strikes from dead ball situations, four of which from indirect free-kicks – the greatest in Serie A. Another area of strength worth noting is their aerial threat, as only Palermo (seven) have found the target more often with headers than the Gialloblu and Juventus (six each).

    However, the bottom line remains that Del Neri’s charges have netted the fewest and conceded the third-highest number of goals in the division, while they have drawn the most amount of games from winning positions (four).

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