Hellas Verona have turned out to be one of the surprises of the season in Serie A. Ivan Juric’s men are vying for the European places months after they achieved promotion from Serie B, becoming the best performing newly-promoted side this season. Despite a lot of predictions from people involved in online betting in Nigeria, Verona have beaten the odds in looking likely to stay up.
Theirs has been a case of Juric bringing together multiple undervalued players under the same umbrella. They like to be flexible in their approach as they have gone about defending deep against the likes of Juventus, Milan, Lazio and Inter. But against lesser sides, they’ve played a good brand of football as well.
In the midst of the emergence of multiple undervalued talents like OuMarash Kumbulla, Amir Rrahmani, Matteo Pessina and Sofyan Amrabat, Miguel Veloso’s contributions have gone almost unseen. Why that has happened is anyone’s guess but the Portuguese veteran’s been the glue that sticks the Gli Scaligeri together.
The 33-year-old found himself without a club after for the second time in nine months this past summer. His second spell at Genoa had ended and this time, Il Grifone weren’t getting him back like they did in October 2018. Verona took the chance, with Mattia Valoti having joined SPAL permanently. As things stand, the period when Veloso was without a club seems quite far away.
Juric has constantly stuck to a 3-4-2-1 system this season. The base of the midfield two sees Veloso and Amrabat play regularly, with Pessina and the talented Mattia Zaccagni playing in front of them. That midfield two is solid and forms the base of their team, as Amrabat is more of a dribbler than Veloso.
But the former Portugal international sits deepest and acts as the anchorman for Verona. He is their chief creator, despite playing deep and has created 2.9 chances per 90 minutes this season. 40 percent of his passes are forward passes- concrete proof to how he likes to help the team ticking.
The club’s second-best creator is the teenager Eddie Salcedo. His tally stands at 1.58- much less than Veloso’s. Out of players who have played regularly, Veloso has played the most number of passes per 90 minutes- 48.5. It shows that his technical ability on the ball sets the tone when the team moves forward.
But this isn’t all that Veloso is about. He is the club’s best ball-winner too. He has completed 8.20 recoveries per 90 minutes, with Marco Silvestri at second with 7.36. Veloso stands a level above anyone else in the tackling regard too. His shielding the back-four when Amrabat is slightly further forward takes a lot of the burden away from the shoulders of Rrahmani, Kumbulla and Koray Gunter.
Veloso’s influence in the side can be justified by how Verona have won just once in the four games he’s missed so far. That win came against a Fiorentina side that was hitting rock-bottom under Vincenzo Montella, who was axed two games later. Veloso wasn’t available against Sampdoria recently and Claudio Ranieri’s men won the game 2-1.
The game against the blucerchiati had seen Pessina play deeper. And he didn’t have the best of games. That, in itself, was a reflection of how Verona miss Veloso when he isn’t playing.
His screamer against Juve was one of the club’s highlights of the season. While they went onto lose 2-1, but that did give Veloso a glint of spotlight. It certainly didn’t last but the former Genoa man enjoyed an impressive game. He completed three dribbles and made three ball recoveries. It was the sort of performance he has been capable of giving on a consistent basis.
The other two goals he has scored have been cracking free-kicks. They were the perfect example of his vision and technical ability. He doesn’t seem to have lost any bit of it from his days at Sporting Lisbon
The summer was seen as the time when Serie A clubs were signing many free agents. Diego Godin and Franck Ribery got a lot of spotlight for their moves to more renowned clubs in Inter and La Viola. One has struggled to gel into a 3-5-2 system and the other has had a big injury issue. Juventus roped in Adrien Rabiot and Aaron Ramsey.
While the Welshman is thriving once again, the Frenchman is struggling to get to grips with Maurizio Sarri’s system and has constant fitness issues.
But when they haven’t made the sort of impact they should have, Veloso has changed Verona. Silently, he has become their most important player. It is time he gets credit for it.