You may not be aware of Chievo Verona, but you've probably heard someone refer to the Flying Donkeys in soccer terms and thought, that's a great nickname. Now you know who the Flying Donkeys are. Chievo had a solid mid-table finish in last year's Serie A campaign that included two excellent draws against the scudetto winner Juventus. That's what they've done since returning to the top flight in 2008 and they'll be looking to do it again this year.
This will be the Flying Donkey's fifth straight season in the top flight of Italian soccer and there's reason to believe that getting a sixth straight season could be tricky. Head coach Dominico Di Carlo will likely continue to set-up his team to be defensively organized and efficient, but the loss of Michael Bradley to Roma and Francesco Acerbi to AC Milan won't help matters. In addition, the loss of Alberto Paloschi, who is slated to to miss three months after an ankle injury, will put more pressure on the likes of Sergio Pellissier and Cyril Thereau.
Mimmo Di Carlo's wizardry, if you will, has played a big part in Chievo's Serie A success and durability. He led the Flying Donkey's to quality midtable finishes in 2009 and 2010 before leaving to take over Sampdoria in 2010. Chievo didn't fall far during his absence, but his return to the head coaching job at beginning on the 2011 season boosted spirits for a club that consistently has one of the smallest budgets in Serie A.
The question really is if Chievo has done enough in the transfer market to bolster their squad. Despite being linked with Fiorentina midfielder Andrea Lazzari, the club itself has stayed quiet on the subject. That's not to say that Chievo has been completely silent in the summer. Experienced central midfielder Marco Rigoni was signed on loan from Novara and young Ghanaian midfielder Isaac Cofie was signed from Genoa after impressing on loan with Sassuolo last year. The club also dropped a reported €1.5 million to €2.5 million for Romanian central defender Paul Papp who's expected to replaced the departed Francesco Acerbi, who headed off to AC Milan.
Assuming Chievo makes no more moves before the transfer window closes, their Serie A fates will likely be determined by how much Di Carlo can get out of his roster. Another respectable mid-table finish isn't out of the question, it just might be a little tougher road this season.
Last Season: 10th
Who's Gone?: Michael Bradley (Roma), Francesco Acerbi (AC Milan), Davide Mandelli (AC Lumezzane)
Who's In?: Marco Rigoni, Paul Papp, Issac Cofie
Keep An Eye On: Sergio Pellissier and Cyril Thereau. With Paloschi injured the goal scoring load will fall again on these two.
Predicted Finish: Midtable