After the loss against Atlanta on Sunday, a response from the team was needed to get something out of this game. Lazio scored in their first attack of the game, making it very difficult for Bologna. The second half was positive though, something which we should take with us going to Roma on Saturday.
A lot of changes to the team were expected, and Roberto Donadoni changed five players from the Atalanta game. No one were surprised with Emil Krafth in at right back, Sebastien De Maio in for the suspended Giancarlo Gonzalez, and Mattia Destro in for the injured Rodrigo Palacio. In addition to this, Donadoni opted to bring in Ladislav Krejci for Federico Di Francesco, and Lorenzo Crisetig for Andrea Poli. Quite understandable changes given how little time the team had between Atalanta and Lazio, and with a new game on Saturday.
How it went down:
Bologna started the game well, pressing Lazio, and most importantly, keeping hold of the ball. However, Lazio launched their first attack of the game after four minutes, with Milinkovic-Savic curling the ball into the corner from right outside the box. No pressure on the Serbian there, one of the central midfielders really should have been there to pick up his run. Goals change games, and Lazio started to control the game after taking the lead. It seemed like the goal took all of Bologna’s confidence away, with them returning to play as they did against Atalanta, giving the ball away with bad passes. We were lucky not to be more down than 1-0 after twenty minutes, with Mirante making some great saves and interceptions, and Lazio missing a penalty. However, just when Bologna started to play a bit better, Lazio scored again. Like many other times during the game, Lazio played a long ball into the space on the flanks. Mirante came forward to the edge of the area, but before he had time to clear the ball, Lulic headed the ball over Mirante and into the net. Really questionable goalkeeping, but 2-0 nevertheless. The only other thing of importance that happened before half-time was Donsah being substituted after 42 minutes. He wa apparently struggling with an injury, but it seemed strange to not wait with the change until the break.
As Lazio did in the first half, Bologna scored after just five minutes of the second. A cross by Krejci was slid into the net by Lulic. Credit to Pulgar for his slide in front of Lulic, making it difficult for the Lazio player to see the ball. It was really apparent what the goal did to Bologna’s confidence, suddenly we were controlling the game, pressing high, and our movement was great. We changed Crisetig for Falletti, his first game for the club. Falletti played quite well the twenty minutes he was on, causing a Lazio yellow card after being elbowed in the face, and he also took a yellow card for the team with a tactical foul to stop a Lazio counter. With ten minutes left, Donadoni opted for bringing on Okwonkwo for Krejci, and he too played well, with some great dribbling on the flank. There were three minutes of additional time where Bologna had a massive pressure on the Lazio goal, but it did not amount to anything.
What we learned:
The first half is something to forget, as Lazio played the ball into the space on the flanks continuously, creating trouble for our defense time and time again.. 2-0 down at half-time, but it could have been worse, with Lazio missing a penalty, and hitting the post. However, the second half was way better with us controlling the ball way better, scoring after just five minutes of the second half. We played very well the last 45, keeping hold of the ball, we were creative in the final third, causing Lazio a lot of trouble. The goal gave us a lot of confidence, but we were unfortunate to not get the equalizer.
Overall, we were much better against Lazio than against Atalanta, which is something that we should take with us going into the Roma game on Saturday. If we keep passing the ball like in the second half, stop the opposition passing into space on the flanks, we can achieve positive results against any team, something which Donadoni touched upon after the game:
This second half performance is an example that we need to follow. It was what we also shown against Inter and in 70 minutes against Napoli. This 45 minute spell today proves once again that we can go head-to-head with the top teams.
That’s the key right there, we have to start playing well for the 90 minutes. We did it against Inter, where we got the point, but when we only play well in one half it’s very difficult to get the result, especially against the stronger opponents.
A lot of fringe players stepped in and performed quite well. Nagy, Krejci and Falletti all played quite well. We have a lot of depth in the squad, something which bodes well for a long season. It was also interesting to see Okwonkwo coming on and performing well. He works hard on the pitch and he’s got good technique, hopefully he’ll get more chances during the season despite our big squad.
Conceding that early makes the game that much harder, this is something we cannot do in these big games. We also need to stop the opponent having that much space on the flanks, and we were lucky that Lazio didn’t take more advantage of it. Last but not least, hopefully Donsah is alright. He did not look to be injured when he went of, but it had to be something of that sorts. Fingers crossed!
Ladislav Krejci: Not an easy task to choose one player that really stood out against Lazio. Krejci had some good crosses, and he did create the goal. He worked hard right up to being substituted, and hopefully this match will do him some good, getting back into form after his injury.
Now we have two days off before travelling to Roma on Saturday for a late night kick-off. That will be another tough match for the team, but if we play like in the second half against Lazio, we can, as Donadoni said, compete against anyone.
Bonus: How Lulic reacted to being substituted, telling of Inzaghi, constantly waving his fingers on the way to the bench. Check it out, not an example to follow, but hilarious nonetheless!
That is all for today, I’ll be back tomorrow! See you in the comments!
Photo credit: Bologna FC