Update from Bentegodi

The latest news about Hellas before the game against Spezia

Richard Hough

The column of the week from Richard Hough for all the Verona-lovers speaking english.

It’s been a tough couple of weeks to be a Hellas fan, but at least we haven’t had to worry about our team selling its soul to the Super League!

For fans of Verona, football is about supporting your local team, celebrating local rivalries, and enduring nerve-shredding playoffs and soul-destroying relegation dog fights. Buying your way into an ‘elite’ WWF-style super-league is of no interest to us!

Of more immediate concern, however, is Verona’s alarming collapse of form in recent weeks.

Following defeats last week against Fiorentina and Inter, Hellas have now lost seven of their last eight matches. With defeats against Sampdoria, Lazio, Atalanta, Sassuolo and Milan, the only points Hellas have taken since the beginning of March was against Cagliari at the beginning of April.

In truth, it was a much-improved performance against Inter last weekend at the San Siro. Hellas edged possession (51 per cent), completed more passes (459) and had more shots on goal (12) than Inter. Once again, Hellas failed to convert. Faraoni was unlucky to have his goal disallowed for an alleged foul on Handanović, when replays showed minimal, if any, contact with the Inter keeper.

Aside from the stats, there were several other positives to come out of the Inter game. Hellas finished the match with four youngsters on the pitch, players born in the 2000s, Ebrima Colley (2000), Eddie Salcedo (2001), Ivan Ilić (2001) and Destiny Udogie (2002).

Meanwhile, there are also clear indications that the club will attempt to invoke right-to-buy clauses for some of its hottest on-loan property, including the likes of Ilić and DiMarco. The club may also invoke similar clauses for Barak, Magnani and Ceccherini.

Last summer the Hellas squad numbered just 14 contracted players, by this summer that number should have risen to 23 – a clear sign of the club’s current direction of travel. Adding the likes of Ilić, DiMarco and Barak to the roster will be taken as a further statement of the club’s ambition and might even persuade Juric to extend his stay in the city.

Looking further afield, it is perversely gratifying to observe former Hellas players thriving in their new surroundings (though of course we wish they had stayed here!).

Sofyan Amrabat, currently fasting for the Muslim festival of Ramadan, seems to have finally rediscovered the kind of form and energy that made him an instant favourite at the Bentegodi last season. The Moroccan made 34 appearances for Hellas last season but seemed to struggle with the transition to his new club Fiorentina. Hopefully his return to form will be enough to ensure that our Tuscan ‘twins’ can avoid relegation this season. The battle at the foot of the table is going to be particularly fierce this season, but for once Hellas fans can simply sit back and watch as others suffer!

Another ex-gialloblù making an impact at the moment is Scot Liam Henderson. Hendo made 27 appearances and scored three goals in two season for Hellas and is currently playing with great confidence with Serie B side Lecce, who have won four of their last five in Serie B. This kind of form has propelled them to second place in the league table, with Salertnitana just one point behind them in the chase for the automatic promotion spot. In Lecce’s last outing against Vicenza, Hendo even bagged the winner. Having won promotion with Hellas in 2019, Henderson is hoping he can repeat the trick with Lecce this season.

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