A convincing away victory as Hellas begin the year with a bang
#1. Pazzini delivers. Remarkably, this was the veteran strikers first start in Serie A this season! Despite being a proven goalscorer (113 goals in Serie A), as well as club captain and firm favourite with the fans, Pazzini has been shunned by three consecutive Hellas coaches. On the rare occasions when he is called upon, Pazzini invariably delivers - and that was certainly the case against SPAL on Sunday. He scored the opening goal and led Verona's frontline with purpose.
#2. Lazovic assists. Serbian wing-back Darko Lazović also made an impressive contribution. It was his inch-perfect delivery that picked out Pazzini at the back post for Verona's first goal on 13 minutes and in the second half his rampaging run and shot was deflected into the path of the oncoming Stepinski for Verona's second. Verona's offensive wingbacks have been a notable characteristic of Verona's game this season, with Lazovic and Faraoni adding a potent dimension to Verona's attacking options.
#3. Badu returns. Emmanuel Badu, who signed on loan from Udinese in the summer, had been sidelined for 5 months with a series illness. Thankfully his recovery is now complete, and with 10 minutes remaining, he made his first Serie A appearance for Hellas. A player of genuine quality, we can expect to see more of him in the weeks and months ahead. His rehabilitation gives Juric yet further options in an already crowded midfield, with Amrabat set to return from suspension and young Atalanta loanee Mateo Pessina, who deputised for him against SPAL, also making a good case for a regular starting berth. Meanwhile the likes of Liam Henderson, Andrea Danzi and Daniel Bessa watch on from the sidelines.
#4. On the road again. Hellas have now won three matches on the road this season (they also took three points at Lecce and Parma) - a feat they haven't managed since the championship winning 1984/85 season! With 22 points on the board, Hellas sit one place above Milan on goal difference in 11th place.
#5. A crucial run. With forthcoming fixtures against Genoa (h), Bologna (a) and Lecce (h), if Hellas are to secure their objective this season and remain in Serie A, they will wish to take maximum points from these games, for beyond them lie the altogether sterner challenges of Milan (a), Lazio (a) and Juventus (h).
Next up Hellas Verona host a struggling Genoa on Sunday 12 January.