Bologna were finally able to end their terrible run of four defeats in a row with a victory against Verona on Monday. Now they face off against Sampdoria, who come from an impressive victory against Juventus.
The victory against Verona has taken a load of the entire organization. The three points sent Bologna up to tenth in the standings, only two points behind AC Milan in seventh. Even though Bologna had four losses on the bounce before Verona, the team is now in a very good position going into the final game of November. Sampdoria will be a completely different test in contrast to Verona though, as they are a team in great form with three victories in a row. Last round came their perhaps best performance so far, when they won 3-2 against Juventus. They have been brilliant at home, where they’ve won every single match thus far, however, away from home they have not been as dominant. Bologna need a very good performance to beat them, but Udinese beat them 4-0 earlier in the season, and proved that Sampdoria does have weaknesses. Speaking before the game, Roberto Donadoni had this to say:
They know how to score in a lot of different ways. We’ll have to be very careful. We’re coming in from an important result, Sampdoria are very well-equipped but we want to find consistency.
Sampdoria has all season been proving that they are a team of great attacking force. Their 4-3-1-2 formation gives them a lot of players in the middle of the field, which makes it really difficult for their opponents to gain control of the match. Their fullbacks provide width going forward, and their crossing is something which Bologna must stop if they are to get something out of the game. The two goals Bologna conceded against Verona came after crosses from the left, so hopefully the team has been working on that aspect during the week. Donadoni also talked about the game against Verona, saying:
We made a lot of technical errors in Verona. Quality was lacking in the build-up, we were too hasty when the opponent wasn’t putting pressure on.
This was very evident during the game. It seems as though Donadoni wants the team to be possession-based , and then to give the ball away in such a fashion as they did against Verona is quite worrying. Verona did not maintain a high press during the game, and Bologna should therefore have avoided giving the ball away in such a manner. Sampdoria will without a doubt press way more than Verona, and Bologna will therefore be put to the test.
There is not expected to be a lot of changes to the team from those who started against Verona. Adam Masina was substituted around the half-hour mark against Verona, rumoured to be because of his performance (which wasn’t that bad, not worse than several others), and there has been some talk about him being benched against Sampdoria. The most likely player to come in for him would be M’baye, who has played well as left-back before. However, Cheick Keita is fit, so it could be an opportunity for him to claim his place in the team. The club reported on Friday that Krafth has a minor issue, and if he is not fit for the game, then M’baye will most likely occupy the right-back position. Torosidis is another option for both full-back positions, and thus Bologna has a lot of options. Up front the most likely trio will be the same as against Verona, Donadoni had some things to say about his attacking options before the game:
Destro and Palacio together? That’s my intention but it will depend on what they show in training. Okwonkwo is developing a lot. He’s more aware and he wants to test himself in Serie A. If he doesn’t lose this conviction, he’ll become an important player.
Destro delivered an overall good performance against Verona, and he’ll be hoping to keep his place against Sampdoria. He was replaced ten minutes into the second half, whether that was because of fitness or because Donadoni thought that Okwonkwo could do better is not clear. The young Nigerian made a good claim for a place in the line-up against Sampdoria with a good cameo and an excellent goal versus Verona. It would be interesting to see Orji in the line-up, but Destro is the most likely to be included.
Bologna (4-3-3): Mirante; M’baye, Gonzalez, Helander, Masina; Poli, Pulgar, Donsah; Verdi, Destro, Palacio
Sampdoria (4-3-1-2): Viviano; Bereszynski, Ferrari, Silvestre, Strinic; Barreto, Torreira, Linetty; Ramirez; Quagliarella, Zapata
A very tough challenge for Bologna, but a good result is definitely achievable. Bologna need to defend better than they have done in the last couple of games though, but a positive is that Bologna thus far this season have performed well against the supposedly better teams. The results have not been good against those teams though, so hopefully we’ll see both a good performance, and a good result today.
Photo: Bologna FC