Hellas Verona ended the 2020/21 season with a draw that prevented Napoli from qualifying for the Champions League, ending what was a successful campaign for Ivan Juric and his men.
An early departure from the Coppa Italia at the fourth round meant that more emphasis would be put on Serie A.
Finishing 10th with 45 points through 11 wins, 15 defeats and 12 draws. Verona weren’t far from how they ended matters with the 2019/20 season, where Gli Scaligeri sat ninth with 49 points.
Player of the Season: Mattia Zaccagni
“He is one of our most talented attacking players from a technical point of view,” is how goalkeeper Marco Silvestri described Mattia Zaccagni. “Then he is always the first to run back and help in defence.”
While there were many contenders for this position, as, throughout all areas of the pitch, major contributors to Juric’s style have prevailed. From Silvestri, wing-backs Federico Dimarco and Davide Faraoni, add to the threat up front in Antonin Barak.
Nevertheless, it seems right to deem Zaccagni the star of a very unique set of players.
The 25-year-old managed to score five goals and create as many, had an impressively consistent first half of the season and ended on a rather bitter note towards the second part of the campaign.
His 10 goal involvements came in the first 19 games, his first came against Juventus at the Allianz Stadium and ever since he would provide or find the net every two matchdays with one exception where he was out for three. After an incredible performance against Napoli, helping his side win 3-1, Zaccagni failed to add to his tally for the rest of the matches.
However, he remained an integral part of the team. Taking part in 36 league games, starting 33 of them all while avoiding any injuries for the whole term.
The No.20 has been linked with moves to Napoli and AC Milan. Not surprisingly as his work ethic is incomparable within the squad.
He is the forward with the most interceptions (27), has the second-highest number of key passes (38), with the exception of the defenders he has won the most aerial duels (50), is the best dribbler of the side with 61 to his name and, finally, he is constantly troubling opposition goalkeepers with 14 shots on target, second to Barak’s 17.
Best signing: Antonin Barak
Barak signed for Hellas Verona on loan from Udinese in September and he could not have picked any better time to flourish.
The 2020/21 season is the first time in three years that the Czech would end the campaign in double digits for goal involvements. After an injury curse in 2019 and poor form last season saw him manage only three goals and creating one. Barak found the net seven times and provided three assists for Verona.
While he might have lacked consistency at times, he did show up in challenging contests. Scoring a header in a draw at the Stadio San Siro against Milan, a goal vs Napoli in their 3-1 victory and another in a 1-1 draw in front of Juventus.
Moreover, all of his three assists were there to always push his teammates to the edge of a win or draw.
Coach: Ivan Juric
Ivan Juric has made a lot of headlines this year. He had been mentioned as a candidate to take the Lazio and Napoli jobs, and his decision to leave the Stadio Marc’Antonio Bentegodi in order to join Torino raised a lot of eyebrows.
Nevertheless, the 45-year-old remained devoted to his work at Verona throughout the season. Continuing to leave a mark on the club, he took over last season after they had just been promoted to Serie A and managed to make a ninth-place finish and ended at the mid-table this time around.
Despite the departure of his important loanees – like Amir Rrahmani, Matteo Pessina and more – Juric put out a solid squad that was very much capable of causing upsets and impressing.
Managing 16 points from their fixtures against the top seven Serie A sides. Juric managed to create a threatening yet reserved 3-4-3 or 3-4-2-1 formation. Making the most out of wing-backs Dimarco and Faraoni, who have contributed to 19 of the team’s 46 league goals. All while installing a hard-working mentality, confidence in his players, and bringing the best out of each one of them.
While the Gialloblu have had a lot of entertaining and iconic moments this season, one surely stands out.
The 3-1 victory over Napoli at the Bentegodi and remaining undefeated against the men from the Partenopei throughout the season is not something to be sniffed at. The win was rather dramatic as the hosts came from behind to earn it at the end of January.
Hirving Lozano opened the scoring after only seven seconds, capitalising on a mistake from Dimarco. The wing-back would atone for it, scoring the equaliser. The second half started with Verona determined as ever as Barak got them ahead and Zaccagni’s header sealed the deal.
Napoli had just lost the Supercoppa Italiana to Juventus a day before and were looking to make amends. It was not that different for Juric as his side had just been defeated away at Bologna and was looking for his third win of the new year.
Verona went on to play their last matchday at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona, collecting a point and stopping Napoli from qualifying from the Champions League.
Verona’s 2020/21 campaign has far from been a perfect fairytale.
They have lacked consistency and it seems like they have let their standards drop too early, thankfully for them the first half of the season has proved to be positive, especially in important and tough games.
While they might have a better defensive record than some clubs in the top half of the table, it could have been better. Just in January, they recorded the second-best defence in Serie A and ended the season as 10th.
Following the win against Napoli, Gli Scaligeri managed a disappointing three wins until the end of the season.
Losses to Parma and Crotone and dropping points against Torino and Cagliari remain confusing as well.
Perhaps also a better run in the Coppa Italia would’ve been appreciated by the Verona supporters, considering the defeat was against relegation survivors Cagliari.