After four straight defeats this was a game that Bologna had to win. Verona led twice during the game, but Bologna managed to turn in around and get the important win.
Roberto Donadoni made three changes from the match against Crotone, with Antonio Mirante reentering after his injury, Mattia Destro replacing the injured Federico Di Francesco, and Erick Pulgar replaced Lorenzo Crisetig after serving his one-game suspension. This meant that Bologna started with their best players on the field, and Destro was once again given a chance to redeem himself after a period on the sidelines.
Bologna pressed high from the get-go as they did not allow Verona to keep hold of the ball. Helander was strong in the air and won a couple of headers early in the game. Verona were very sloppy on the ball the first five minutes as they several times missed easy passes. Verde with several good crosses the first ten minutes, but no Verona players managed to get on the end of them. Fares with a great cross after 12 minutes, and Cerci managed to get on the end of it, and he headed the ball into the goal. Bologna defended the cross badly, and duly paid for it. Krafth went down with a head injury before the cross, and the referee should have stopped the game because of it. The goal gave Verona more confidence, as they continued to press Bologna after taking the lead. After 21 minutes, Donsah won the ball after a bad Verona clearance, Bologna then played some intricate one-touch passes, which eventually lead to Palacio playing through Destro on goal. He had no problems alone with the Verona keeper, and scored his first goal of the season. In the preview I wrote about how Verdi and Palacio could get the best out of Destro, and they were both involved in the build-up to that goal. As Verona did after their goal, Bologna too got much better after scoring. After 33 minutes, however, Verona once again were in the lead. As with the first goal, the second too came from a cross from the left. Caceres managed to get on the end of it, but Mirante saved his header. The keeper gave a rebound though, and Caceres was there to pounce on it. Neither side managed to create much the last ten minutes of the game, before Destro got through on goal after a perfectly weighted ball. His finish was not up to the quality of the pass though, as his shot too high.
No team was able to take control of the game in the first ten minutes of the game. Not a particularly fluid start to the half, as there was a lot of stops in play. Okwonkwo came on for Destro after 55 minutes. Good game by the striker, as he got his first goal of the season, and had an overall hard-working display. As in the first half, Bologna still had most of the ball, but they were unable to play their way through the Verona defence. Verona on the other hand looked dangerous every time they went forward, as the played very directly with long passes out wide to their wingers, who then crossed the ball into the box. Verona defending very well the first twenty minutes of the second half, not allowing Bologna any space in Verona’s half. But, after 73 minutes, Bologna got their first big chance of the half. Verdi with an excellent cross from the right, and sub Okwonkwo with a stunning header into the corner. 2-2 and game on. Then, 76 minutes played, Donsah with an incredible shot from just outside the box right into the bottom corner. Two goals in 3 minutes for Bologna, and the match was turned around. Verona with a huge chance to equalize after 85 minutes on a corner, but Mirante tipped the ball over the bar. Verona had most of the ball the last ten minutes as they pressed for an equalizer. Falletti came on for the last five minutes as Okwonkwo got hurt. However, they did not manage to create anything, and the game ended with a Bologna win.
What we learned:
This was Bologna’s best attacking display this season. They managed to score three beautiful goals, and the front three of Verdi, Destro and Palacio worked very well. This bodes well going forward, and they should continue to play together as their level of understanding will only get better. However, even though the attacking was good, the defending was not. Donadoni and his team should have known before the game how Verona like to attack, with direct passes out wide to their wingers, and the wingers trying to cross the ball into the box. Bologna had a lot of problems with this Verona strategy, in particularly in the first half, and both goals came from a cross from the left. Daniel Verde was very good for Verona, but Bologna should have defended better as a team to stop them. Before the game, Donadoni talked about how he wanted the wingers to not contribute as much in defence, and that it would put a greater responsibility on the midfield to defend. It was very clear yesterday that Bologna’s fullbacks did not get enough help when defending against Verona’s wingers, and two goals were conceded because of it. In modern football, wingers have to contribute in defence, as one cannot allow three players to just stay in attack all the time. Things got a little better in the second half though, but Bologna still have a lot to work on before the Sampdoria game. After the game, Donadoni had this to say:
It is an important result, however I am less pleased with what we shown out on the field. If we played like we know how then we would not have struggled.
The quality in the team is very good, but all season long they’ve struggled to get it out, especially in the games against teams in the lower half. This has to be worked on, and even though Bologna had almost 60% of the possession last night, it was still a pretty close game. Donadoni also talked about the team’s mentality, saying:
A dose of reality is needed because we must be more determined and start showing the right mentality. We cannot just cling to our qualities.
Hopefully we will see a strong performance against Sampdoria next weekend, but I do think that the team showed the right mentality last night, as Verona led twice, but Bologna still managed to turn it around. Some teams would just crumble, but Bologna fought their way back into the game. I also have to mention Godfred Donsah. He irritated me in the first half as he misplaced some passes, and generally did not play well. However, his second half was excellent, and the goal was the cherry on top. More displays like that from him please. After the game, he had this to say:
My teammates always tell me to shoot from distance during training because I have a dangerous shot. Today we did well to respond after conceding. We now need to continue like this and improve quickly. The second half was undoubtedly an improvement.
Kudos to him for shooting more, and the shot for the goal was very good. Donsah is the type of player that should contribute more goals and assists, and maybe this goal will do him some good, and we’ll see more goals from him this season.
– Team morales: Going behind twice in the game, Bologna never gave up, but instead fought their way back into the game.
– The attacking trio of Palacio, Destro and Verdi worked very well together, and Di Francesco may be worried about his place in the team.
– Mattia Destro did very well as he once again got a chance to redeem himself. A hard-working display from the striker, and he capped it of with a beautifully taken goal.
– Okwonkwo once again subbed on and scores a goal. He is proving his talent this season, and it would not surprise me if he were to start a game sooner rather than later.
– Defending, once again. Bologna need to defend better against teams’ greatest strengths.
– Mirante looked a bit off yesterday, he gave a rebound on one goal, and came out on the cross for another without grabbing the ball. He has been on the sidelines for some time now, so hopefully it is just a lack of game time that did it.
Simone Verdi: What a player. He got a “pre-assist” on the first goal, and real assists on the last two. Game after game now he is contributing with goals or assists. Currently he is, without a doubt, Bologna’s best players, and it is no wonder why the likes of Napoli and Inter are rumoured to be interested in him. He just signed a new contract though, and for now he is a Rossoblù.
The next game is against at home against Sampdoria on Saturday. They have a perfect record at home, but they’ve been struggling on the road, so it is quite possible to get something out of that one. The win yesterday will have given the team a much-needed confidence boost, and that should be evident in the game against Sampdoria.
M’baye telling Romulo what’s what. Romulo was down on the ground a couple of times early on in the second half, and M’baye did not like it. After 50 minutes one could see M’baye yelling at Romulo who was on the ground. Very good by the young fullback, as Romulo went down all to easy.
Photo: Bologna FC