A 2-0 defeat last weekend to Genoa saw Hellas Verona drop out of the top-five in Serie A after spending the better part of the opening third of the season in the European qualification places.
The loss, just the newly-promoted side’s fourth in 12 games, represented the first time that boss Andrea Mandorlini‘s men have fallen to a less illustrious opponent this term, the previous three having come at the hands of Roma, Juventus, and Inter.
And though not coming away without points away to a club that now sits just one place behind them in the table is certainly not a disaster, it certainly begs the question as to whether the Stadio Bentegodi outfit is primed to come crashing back to earth following a Cinderella start.
The Mastini’s success in the early stages has been undoubtedly centered around excellent production going forward, with their 22 goals scored being the sixth-highest total in the Italian top flight. Indeed, the defeat to Genoa represented only the second time the club was kept off the score sheet since opening day, with league leaders Roma the only other team to hold Mandorlini’s charges at bay, all the way back in week two.
The poor result at Marassi indicates that Verona will struggle should a significant goal drought come about. When paired with the fact that that the side has conceded on 19 occasions, this highlights a heavy reliance on attack to simply outscore the competition in end-to-end contests.
Consistent with this phenomenon, the Mastini boast significant attacking talent and field a quite offensive-minded starting 11 every week, while the back line at times looks ill-equipped to contend with opposition raids.
Evergreen former Italy international Luca Toni has netted five times and provides a wealth of maturity to lead the front three for Verona. Winger Juan Iturbe, once dubbed the ‘New Messi’, has had a breakout campaign in Europe on loan from Portuguese giants Porto.
In midfield, 21-year-old Jorginho has captivated the attention of top clubs from Serie A to the Premier League, most commonly supported by veteran long-ball specialist Emil Hallfredsson and Fiorentina-owned dynamo Romulo.
Yet in the defense, centre-back pairing Vangelis Moras and Domenico Maietta are aging and inexperienced at the top level respectively, while left- back Alessandro Agostini is well past his prime at 34. Right-back Fabrizio Cacciatore has spent the majority of his career in Italy’s lower divisions.
Mandorlini’s attacking tactics, highlighted by his favored 4-3-3 formation, leaves the back four with much to do without a high-caliber player to boot.
Consistency is key to finishing the season in a strong position. With such steadiness for Verona coming via scoring through the opening 11 games but given the its fleeting nature, hard times could be ahead for the Mastini as the side doesn’t look like the type to grind out low-scoring results amidst troubles in front of goal.
Of course, it remains to be seen whether the northern outfit has truly entered into a cycle of offensive stagnancy. But the loss to Genoa has raised a warning flag, and a more measured approach might be necessary for the sake of providing the defense with a more manageable workload week to week.
And following such a scintillating start to the season, the realities of the top flight may now be setting in; should the goals continue to dry up, a change of emphasis may in turn be needed to not make waste of the good work done thus far.