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 on doing so. 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 despite being widely tipped to be prime contenders for relegation.
But on the final day of the 2006/7 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. Last season, their pragmatic, result-orientated style of football saw them reach a respectable 12th place finish and they will look to build on the strength of that campaign this season.
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 of 2001/2, 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 do their job very well, the 2012/13 Chievo Verona side can best be described as solid, and they will no doubt be the same in this year’s campaign.
Team captain Sergio Pellissier has been at the club since 2002 and continues to be a key cog in the Chievo machine. He scored a memorable away hat-trick against 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 110 in total for the Gialloblu.
Supporting him in attack is Alberto Paloschi, an extremely promising young striker who is co-owned by Milan and scored a double in the team’s second match of the season against Napoli.
Alessio Sestu, a new arrival from Siena, is at the height of his powers aged 29, and Juventus will need to wary of the capabilities of the Gialloblu’s number 10 on the wing.
Peruvian Marcelo Estigarribia played in Juventus’ Scudetto winning 2011/12 season, in fact making his debut for Antonio Conte’s side against the team he now plays for.
Boukary Dramé is another Gialloblu danger man, a talented Senegalese international since 2005 who plays as a left back and is one of the main sources of Chievo Verona attacks.
Club legend Luciano has left to join Mantova in his advancing years, and having put in 316 appearances for the Gialloblu, the fans will surely be sad to see him go. Isaac Cofie and Marco Andreolli, both important players for the side last season, have also moved on.
An exciting arrival is Dejan Lazarevic, an extraordinary speedster who was an outstanding contributor last season for Modena.
Ivan Radovanovic is another prudent signing, having become a Serbian international while at Atalanta during the last campaign.
Giuseppe Sannino is Chievo Verona’s new man in the dugout this season following the departure of Eugenio Corini.
After a relatively minor career as a player, the Campania-born 56-year-old began his coaching career with the Vogherese, Pavia and then Monza youth sides before securing his first head coach role at Oltrepò.
He took charge of his first professional club, Biellese, in 1998, and after a series of inconsistent seasons in the lower leagues he got his Serie A break when he was named manager of newly-promoted Siena in 2011, replacing a certain Antonio Conte.
He led the Tuscan side to the Coppa Italia semi-finals before signing a contract as head coach of Palermo, the club from which he joined Chievo Verona this year.