Human oriented press
In the 3-4-2-1 of Juric the phase of non-possession of the Venetian formation stands out. With just 9 goals conceded, Hellas has the best defense in the league along with that of Juventus. However, the only 9 goals scored must not give the false impression of a sparagnina team, withdrawn and with a badly organized way of attacking. The Verona offensive production is in fact sufficient, as confirmed by the Expected Goals ranking. The constant high presence of the Lazovic and Faraoni externals in the possession phase allows to cover the offensive front well, and the team manages to make the ball run well from one band to the other of the field, serving the externals in isolation on the weak side. The Scaligeri, however, lack poor precision under the goal. Salcedo's goal against Brescia is the first goal scored so far by a first striker.
However, there is no doubt that the defensive phase is the key to the tactical efficiency of Hellas Verona. As we know, Juric grew up at the Gasperini school, and this is still visible in the man-like and intensity-free ball markings that represent a pivotal concept in his football. It is therefore a team with a particularly aggressive pressure phase and tries to recover the ball in advanced areas of the field. The central density created by the medians and the midfielders is particularly effective, and it makes it very difficult for the opponents to construct clean streets in the middle, with the external streets being the only way out. An aspect that was clearly seen at the Allianz Stadium, a game in which Juventus encountered great difficulties in advancing the maneuver. Verre was in charge of shielding Bentancur (the Uruguayan ended up making just 28 successful passes in the 51 ’games), while Amrabat and Miguel Veloso followed Matuidi and Ramsey with attention and generosity.
Verona's pressing on the 3 Juventus midfielders. At the top right, Faraoni follows Ronaldo's movement to meet.
In short, it is a constant to see Hellas Verona putting the teams that set up from below in difficulty. Juric's grip in the group should be emphasized, given that it is not obvious to convince his players to play with such an intense and courageous attitude. If this tactical style seems perfectly tailored to the characteristics of an aggressive footballer like Amrabat (3.6 tackle for 90 ’), today among the best midfielders of the championship, on other profiles there were more doubts. For example, Miguel Veloso seemed to be a more median of position, yet even the Portuguese is exalting himself in a team that asks midfielders to defend forward. If Amrabat stands out more for the tackles, the former Genoa works better on covering the passing lines, as he is the second Verona player for interceptions (1.4 for 90 ’).
Kumbulla, a young 2000 class defender, leads the center of the rearguard and is showing courage in interpreting the tactical dictates of the coach, with deep exits to follow his opponent even in the opposing half of the field (3 attempted tackles and 1.5 interceptions for 90 ') . On the other hand, if you choose to defend a man, it is essential to have defenders able to follow your opponents even away from your area of competence. Also Gunter and Rrahmani are distinguished by a great resourcefulness in the outputs. Juric thus has a rearguard that has taken little to assimilate the tactical principles of its technician.
Example of pressing strongly focused on the man from Hellas Verona. Note the height of the defenders, with Gunter and Kumbulla following Insigne and Callejon in the Naples midfield.
To want to find a defect, the excessive aggressiveness of Hellas Verona is likely to prove compromising within the 90 '. That of Juric is the fourth team in the league for fouls (166) and expulsions, already 3. Although the data on the yellow cards is in the average of Serie A (27, in tenth place), often it happens that Hellas approaches the game with an excessive intensity too, with many players being warned in the first part of the race. For example, against Juve there were 3 yellow cards in the first 35 ’, while against Sassuolo even 5 in the first 40’. Obviously, this then conditions the rest of the match, since it takes just an impetuous intervention to leave the team outnumbered.
Despite the many similarities with his mentor Gasperini, there are actually some differences between him and Juric on how the non-possession phase is interpreted. As shown by the last matches of Atalanta (both those in the Champions League as well as the draw against Lazio), it is very difficult to adopt a defensive phase focused on individual duels across the board, which therefore does not aim to maintain a specific form in not possession. An effective dribbling opponent can create big problems, given that every time a player is skipped, imbalances are created that can mess up the general defensive structure. Furthermore, it is a style that cannot be separated from the physical domination of the game: when there is a decrease in intensity and Atalanta misses the timing of the pressing, the opponent encounters several spaces (we saw it in the second half of Rome ).
Hellas, on the other hand, does not exaggerate the numerical parity in each game when the rival team builds from below and is known to adapt according to the situation. It often happens that an adversary defender is left free against teams that set a 3 back, just as it is rare to see the outsiders (Lazovic and Faraoni) constantly coming out on opponents full-backs. Gasperini holds the high sides in the non-possession phase to retrieve the ball forward, while Juric aims more at maintaining the defensive line, which is available at 5 when the opponents manage to advance with the ball.
In the first slide, all the Brescia midfielders are marked while Mateju, the left defender, is left free. In the second, we see the Hellas 5 line despite the only Piatek in the center of the attack. Lazovic and Faraoni therefore remain lower and do not go into aggression on full-backs, to better deal with Suso and Calhanoglu, protecting the defenders. The two medians, on the other hand, are dealing with the Rossoneri midtones.
Lazovic and Faraoni are therefore on average more prudent than the externals of Atalanta and Torino (other teams in the league that adopt a strongly non-human-oriented phase of non-possession), are indeed more midfielders or midfielders who slip away when the opponent widens the game on fullbacks. This allows the defenders to be better protected, avoiding their open battle against rival attackers. Against Parma, for example, Lazovic and Faraoni were constantly low to cover the rearguard from the dangers of Gervinho and Karamoh. As a result, it was often Amrabat who moved to go and counter the Parmesan fullback.
Hellas Verona is density in between, with low side opponents left free. When Parma widens the game on Pezzella, it is Amrabat that goes under pressure, with Faraoni remaining more cautious to deal with Gervinho.
Depending on the context, Hellas Verona agrees to defend itself positionally, especially in the second part of the race. When fatigue increases, it is difficult for those who defend a man to maintain attention in the markings: on the contrary, a team that also knows how to wait for the opponent is able to protect its trocar well even in the final. The Hellas manages to be compact and precise until the end, given that even in the last few minutes it is difficult to find spaces against the Scala players. The Juric forwards show a commendable generosity in defensive folds, keeping the team very tight.
The final match of Parma shows how Hellas Verona knows how to defend itself well even in its own half. Note the positioning of Stepinski.
It must be said that Verona is just twelfth in the list of defensive Expected Goals and that for certain parameters it is therefore expected to suffer more goals in the future. For now, however, we must also underline the excellent season of Marco Silvestri, goalkeeper arrived in Serie A with lights off but statistically turning out to be among the best goalkeepers of the championships.
In these years the courage of the Italians in the pressing is growing a lot, also as regards the small ones. There are increasingly intense and organized systems of aggression, in which there is a strong desire to recover the ball forward without passively waiting for the opponent in his own half. The strength of Hellicas Verona of Juric is to combine strong intensity in offensive pressing with excellent attention when the Scaligeri close behind to defend their trocar. Despite being a pupil of Gasperini, his game falls to more compromises and certainly his teams are less exciting to see play. In Italy, however, we know: pragmatism pays off, and today Verona is the least beaten defense in the league. Excellent foundation on which to build a difficult salvation.