As a wise man once said about the Flying Donkeys, "Brutta squadra, il campo più brutto." English translation? Chievo are the Stoke City of Italian football. You can view these as words from biased Napoli and Juventus supporters, bitter their squads failed to beat Chievo Verona. Or you can watch the club and realize it's the truth: Chievo play negative football, and while defensive tactics in and of themselves shouldn't be viewed as negative, using brutish means to actually get the ball forward certainly is a reason to slap the donkeys with this label.
Chievo in 2010-2011
Let's face it - Chievo still aren't supposed to be in Serie A. Yes, they have been hanging around Italy's top division for almost eleven seasons, just one spent in Serie B. But the team of Verona remains Hellas, with the real gialloblu commanding much more support.
That being said, the Flying Donkeys did manage a respectable 11th place finish, despite scoring only 15 goals at home, second only to relegated Bari - certainly no 12th man advantage here. Still, they were even on points with Parma and Catania, and weren't absolutely assured of safety until about Matchday 35. Stefano Pioli held charge of the club last season, but he's on to Palermo, so Chievo have brought back Domenico Di Carlo, who was sacked in March by relegated Sampdoria.
He may not be officially out yet, but it's anticipated that goalkeeper Stefano Sorrentino will re-join former coach Pioli at Palermo, replacing Salvatore Sirigu, which will leave Chievo scrambling for a replacement. The Flying Donkeys have been shedding players like a cat on clean black pants, losing Kevin Constant to Genoa, Andrea Mantovani to Palermo, and Gelson Fernandes back to Saint-Étienne (who promptly loaned him out to Leicester City).
After enticing Chievo with his performances at the Copa America, the club has signed Peruvian Rinaldo Cruzado, who, unsurprisingly, is a defensive midfielder. They've also signed young AC Milan striker Alberto Paloschi on loan, with most of their other moves involving picking up players from Serie B.
What to Expect from 2011-2012
Davide Moscardelli. It's hard not to be "key" when you're over six feet and built like a truck. The forward may have had only six goals last season, but because his mere presence on the field is utterly terrifying, he gets a mention.
Moscardelli is partnered up front with captain Sergio Pellissier, a tinier and so less "key" player, despite scoring nearly double the amount of goals as Moscardelli last season.
Bostjan Cesar, who constantly confuses in his stubborn insistence on being Slovenian, remains essential to Chievo, if only for his ability to pick up cards (10 yellows and 2 reds last season! Well done, sir!)
Potential Breakout Star
It would bring me no greater joy than to see Chievo relegated to Serie B, except perhaps if Hellas were promoted to Serie A this season as well.*
*This is a lie. Napoli winning the scudetto would bring me much more joy.