Chievo Verona finally got their season back on track on Sunday, with a last minute goal to seal a 2-1 home win over newly promoted Cesena at the Stadio Bentegodi. The opening goal after half an hour, scored by centre back Bostjan Cesar, was significant for two reasons. Firstly, it was the first time the Flying Donkey’s had gone in front at home since the opening game of the season, and secondly it was the first goal scored by the Gialloblu at the Bentegodi since August 29th, that same opening day win over Catania.
Coach Stefano Pioli continued with the attacking intent that his side showed in the second half of the previous week’s 3-1 defeat at the hands of Milan in the San Siro. French striker Cyril Thereau was preferred up front to Pablo Granoche, the Uruguayan he replaced in the second half in Milan. Thereau was signed in late August from Belgian club Charleroi and at 6’2 and a half inches, is considered as something different and a bit of a handful by Pioli.
The Flying Donkey’s were without the injured trio of Brazilian midfielder Luciano, defender Gennaro Sardo and midfield enforcer Luca Rigoni. In their places, Nicolas Frey continued to deputise at right back, transfer deadline day signing Gelson Fernandes was brought in to shore up the midfield and there was a first start for August loan signing Roberto Guana who is on a season long loan deal from Palermo. Guinea international midfielder Kevin Constant continued in the engine room of the team and Napoli loanee Mariano Bogliacino was brought back into the starting line up. The Uruguayan ball player was preferred to Simone Bentivoglio who dropped to the bench and would later replace him in the second half. The back four remained the same and Captain Sergio Pellissier continued to lead the line with his third different strike partner of the season so far.
The win has catapulted the Gialloblu back up to fourth spot in Serie A and reignited their great start to the season after a run of three games without a win. It was the first meeting in Serie A between Chievo and Cesena. They had previously met in the lower leagues with Chievo having won four of the team’s six encounters at the Stadio Bentegodi and the other two games ending all square. This record meant that a win for the Seahorses never really looked on the cards. Despite having some stellar names such as former Inter, Lazio, West Ham and Parma winger Luis Jimenez and on loan Palermo striker Igor Budan, the bookies had Cesena at long odds to create a piece of Verona magic.
The result also sets the Gialloblu up nicely for this week’s Coppa Italia third round clash at Stadio Bentegodi against Serie B side Sassuolo. This clash is interesting for two reasons; firstly it means that Coach Pioli can rest some of his bigger names ahead of Sunday’s trip to Parma, safe in the knowledge that he has got a big enough squad to seemingly cope with players being rested ahead of cup games, and secondly, Sassuolo is Pioli’s former club where he made his name last season, leading them to play-off defeat at the hands of Torino. Sassuolo have struggled since reluctantly allowing Stefano Pioli to leave for the Stadio Bentegodi. Following last season’s remarkable achievement in finishing 4th in Serie B, they currently lie 21st out of a possible 22 clubs having taken just nine points from their opening eleven games, which has included six defeats so far.
Saturdays 1-1 draw away to mid-table Modena the latest instalment of a dismal run of six league games without a win. Pioli has been replaced at the helm by former Livorno, Bologna and Cagliari Coach Daniele Arrigoni. Arrigoni’s credentials are decent however, having led Frosinone to the Serie C2 title, he then led Cagliari to a 12th place finish in Serie A before going on to lead Bologna back into Serie A courtesy of a second placed finish. This should make for an interesting clash at the Stadio Bentegodi on Thursday afternoon. Pioli is sure to get a good welcome from the travelling supporters.
The Coppa Italia remains the Gialloblu’s only realistic hope of any silverware despite their decent start to the league campaign. The city of Verona is only too aware that it was 25 years ago this year since the cities two major footballing forces produced a major piece of silverware; on that occasion it was intercity rivals Hellas who claimed their one and only Scudetto triumph. As every Flying Donkey’s fan is ready to remind them, it counts for nothing when you find yourself mid-table in the Lega-Pro third tier of Italian football.