Many people's odds-on favourites to go straight back down to Serie B, Hellas Verona provided another feel good story for Italian football fans this season.
A team who came up through the play-offs and with a very modestly assembled squad would be expected to adopt a pragmatic approach in order to stay in the top flight. New manager Ivan Juric had other ideas. A student of Gian Piero Gasperini, the Croatian mimicked Atalanta's high octane style of football. Quick passing and aggressive pressing from the front. It was a brave philosophy but one that not only drew plaudits but proved effective.
Verona started the season in modest but effective fashion, picking up points against expected rivals towards the bottom of the table and losing to most of the top teams. Things really started to click into gear going into the new year when the Gialloblu went on a 9 match unbeaten run in Serie A which including a superb and well deserved victory over champions Juventus.
The Coronavirus pandemic struck at the worst time for Hellas and, with their safety virtually assured, their motivation waned when football returned in June. Just 1 win in their final 9 games saw them drop out of European contention and finish 9th, but the very fact this can be seen as a letdown shows how far the club has come this season.
There were no star names in the Hellas Verona squad but instead a well oiled team of consistent performers. The likes of Marash Kumbulla and Amir Rrahmani were part of a defence that managed to keep 10 clean sheets in the league. Davide Faraoni and Darko Lazovic provided goals and assists from the wing-back positions. Sofyan Amrabat stitched everything together with some colossal performances in the heart of midfield.
Unfortunately for Juric - many of his top names are likely to be poached by bigger clubs. Some already have. The Croatian will hope to follow his mentor Gasperini who has always been able to find solutions despite losing some of his best players.