The first competitive game of the 2022/23 season takes place on Sunday as the Gialloblù host Bari in the first round of the Coppa Italia at the Bentegodi.
Here's five things you need to know:
1. It's all change at the Bentegodi
This is the first competitive outing for new coach Gabriele Cioffi, who replaced Igor Tudor during the summer. Cioffi was a decent if unspectacular appointment after steering Udinese to a decent if unspectacular 13th place finish last season.
Proving slightly more controversial is the appointment of Francesco Marroccu as Direttore Sportivo. After he publicly declaring that Gianluca Caprari was untransferable, Caprari was unceremoniously transferred to Monza just a few weeks later! Expect Marroccu and club president Maurizio Setti to be closely scrutinised by the Curva on Sunday.
There are a few new faces on the pitch as well, with the arrival of youngsters Roberto Piccoli and Alessandro Cortinovis, both on loan from Atalanta. They have each represented Italy at youth level and great things are expected of them.
Keep an eye out also for Thomas Henry and Milan Đurić, who have arrived from Venezia and Salernitana respectively and can be expected to add brawn and experience to Verona’s new look frontline.
2. Sent packing
Despite the threat of a mass exodus, the only player of real significance to have left so far is the aforementioned Gianluca Caprari. He was one of Verona’s outstanding players last season, and his boots will be particularly hard to fill.
Two of last season’s most promising prospects, Matteo Cancellieri and Nicolò Casale, have also been released (both to Lazio), but their absence is likely to be less keenly felt than that of Caprari, who contributed twelve goals and seven assists last season.
3. Hanging on to the fuoriclasse
Despite all the speculation surrounding the likes of Barak, Ilic, Simeone, Tameze and Lazović, for the time being they remain on Verona’s books. The market closes on 1 September and it will be a miracle if any of them are still in Verona by then. Simeone in particular has spent much of the preseason on the sidelines, so don’t expect to see him against Bari on Sunday.
4. Connect Four
Despite the gloom surrounding the departure (and anticipated departure) of so many of the stars of the last couple of seasons, a vital core remains of the team that has so consistently surpassed expectations in recent years. Amongst the unsung heroes who have forged Verona’s identity, Miguel Veloso, Davide Faraoni, Koray Günter and Paweł Dawidowicz remain. Thanks to these stalwarts, this will be Verona’s fourth consecutive season in Serie A - a feat not achieved since the heydays of Bagnoli era in the 1980s!
5. The flying Scotsman
Don’t expect to catch a glimpse of Leith's finest, Josh Doig, this weekend. My understanding is that he’s stuck at home waiting for his work permit. Thanks a million Boris!
Finally, don't expect to see a full house at the Bentegodi against Bari either. Despite the presale of over 10,000 season tickets, most sensible Veronese will be sunning themselves on the beach on Sunday afternoon. The real action begins next weekend against Napoli!
The view from Bari
"I think it is fair to say that expectations for the forthcoming season are quite modest (apart from the usual cheerleaders).
Transfer activity has not really set pulses racing.
As usual, Bari's problem has been pruning a bloated squad to make room. Incoming we have Francesco Vicari from SPAL in central defence and a return of Michael Folorunsho on loan from Napoli. Up front (where the real issues are) only Damir Ceter, the young Columbian from Cagliari has arrived and he is clearly not match fit.
Personally I think coach Michele Mignani will approach the season much like last year with a very strong experienced midfield with a system more suited to playing away from home.
Individually much is expected of Argentine Rubén Botta to provide creative spark, though he is made of glass.
Sunday's game will be a much needed workout against a stronger outfit before the difficult Serie B opener at Parma."
Massive thanks to the Bari legends @fcbaribrit and @2ndfcbaribrit for their wisdom and insight!
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As Josh Doig signs for Hellas here are five things he should know (from a fellow Scot in Verona):
1. It's HOT!!!
Temperatures in Verona later this week are expected to exceed 40° - that's double what he'll be used to at this time of year in his native Portobello! Fortunately, he'll be joining the team on its annual summer retreat in the mountain resort of Primiero, high in the Italian Dolomites, where the air is much fresher. Although he can expect some respite from the heat in the mountains, Doig will have to work hard to impress new head coach Gabriele Cioffi.
2. He's not the first Scot to wear Gialloblù
In fact, Josh will be the third Scotsman to wear the famous Gialloblù of Hellas Verona.
First came Joe Jordan, on the back of a two-year spell with AC Milan. After earning promotion with Milan, Jordan switched allegiances to a high-flying and ambitious Hellas Verona side, but things didn't quite work out for the ex Leeds and Manchester United striker and he managed just just two goals in 24 appearances for Hellas. After a single season in Verona, he returned to England, first to Southampton then to Bristol City. "Lo Squallo" / The Shark still enjoys legendary status here in Verona for his combative approach to the game and his habit of removing his front teeth before entering the field of play!
It would be 25 years before another Scot wore Gialloblù. Midfielder Liam Henderson signed for Hellas Verona in 2018 after an impressive season with Bari. World Cup winning coach Fabio Grosso brought Henderson with him from Bari to Verona when he was appointed head coach at the start of the 2018/19 season but, while Henderson was one of the stars of the team that eventually won Hellas promotion back into Serie A, Grosso proved an unpopular choice and was dismissed with just a handful of games to play. The following season, Hendo became the first Scottish player to play in Serie A since Graeme Souness, but struggled to find game time under new coach Ivan Juric and was released on loan in the January transfer window. After an impressive season in Serie B with Lecce, last season Hendo returned to the top flight with Empoli where he was one of their most consistent performers.
If Doig can combine the combativeness and tenacity of Jordan with the technique and professionalism of Henderson, he too could become a Hellas legend!
3. Flying full-backs
Since Juric took over in 2019 and revolutionised their system and approach to the game, Hellas have deployed a 3-4-3 formation with rampaging fullbacks being a particular hallmark of their style of play. Fullbacks Darko Lazovic and Davide Faraoni have been two of Verona's most consistent and outstanding players in recent seasons, deployed in a midfield four, from where they have contributed goals and assists. Faraoni has made 126 appearances, 19 assists and 16 goals in the past four seasons, while Lazovic, who generally plays on the left, isn't far behind with 106 appearances, 21 assists and 8 goals.
Lazovic and Faraoni are dynamic, athletic and attack-minded fullbacks. Doig will have to work hard to earn his place in this crucial position. In fact, the versatile defender might well be asked to fit in to Verona's back three alongside Gunter and Dawidowicz, as a direct replacement for Nicolò Casale, who left recently for rivals Lazio. In any case, Doig's versatility may be his greatest asset if he is to secure a place in Cioffi's starting eleven.
4. Respect the Curva!
The Hellas Verona Curva is notoriously passionate, and that passion can sometimes spill into something uglier. The ultra loyal fans don't expect to win every game, but they do demand effort, loyalty, commitment and, above all, pride in the jersey. Display these qualities and you'll win over Curva. Always salute the fans after the game - if you've given your best you'll have nothing to fear!
5. Speak the lingo!
Learning Italian isn't easy, but here are a few phrases that might help in your first few days on the job!
Per me non esiste mondo fuori dalle mura di Verona! = For me there is no world without Verona walls!
Non contano i moduli, quando ci sono giocatori di qualità puoi giocare in qualsiasi modo = the formation doesn’t matter when there’s players of quality they can play in any position
È importante non prendere gol = it’s important not to concede
Penso solo alla prossima partita = I’m only thinking about the next game
Verticalizzazione = a direct style of play favoured by Hellas that involves playing vertically rather than horizontally
In bocca al lupo, Josh!
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