This is the second installment in a monthly series where Sempre Bologna looks back at the month gone by. Here, we’ll summarise each game, pick out any stand-out performances, and look at trends in how Bologna has performed. We’ll also look at any players that may have performed worse than what’s expected of them.
Going into the month, Bologna were sitting in 12th after descending dow the table in October. Now that the month has gone by, Bologna are all the way up in 8th. Here is a breakdown of each match the past month:
Bologna 2-3 Crotone
Simone Verdi (38′, 45′)/Budimir (42′, 70′), Trotta (68′)
After a terrible October, this was supposed to be the game where Bologna got back to winning ways, and it all looked very bright at halftime after two free-kick goals, one with each foot, by Simone Verdi. Crotone managed to turn the game around in the second half though, and Bologna were really not up for the challenge. Crotone did not create many chances during the match, but those they did create, they also managed to put in the net. Going into the second half with a 2-1 lead, Bologna seemed comfortable with defending, letting Crotone take control of the game. This strategy proved wrong, as Crotone eventually turned it around. What was really bad about this game was Bologna’s defending the times that Crotone managed to create something. All three goals should have been avoided, but at times it looked as though the Bologna defence was composed of youth players.
Best Rossoblù: Simone Verdi
Hellas Verona 2-3 Bologna
Cerci (12′), Caceres (33′)/Destro (21′), Okwonkwo (74′), Donsah (76′)
After the loss against Crotone in the first match of November, Bologna knew that this was an absolute must-win game. Bologna went behind after not being able to stop Verona’s cross from the left, but Destro scored his first goal of the season to make it 1-1. However, Bologna did not learn from the first goal, as Verona scored another goal after a cross from their left hand side. With twenty minutes to go, Bologna finally managed to get back on level terms, as the substitute Okwonkwo got on the end of a great cross from Verdi, and headed the ball into the corner. Just two minutes after the equalizer, Donsah pulled of a great shot from distance, with the ball going into the corner. Nothing more of importance happened in the game, and Bologna had finally stopped their abysmal run of four losses in a row. Palacio, Verdi and Destro all started up front for Bologna in this game, something which had only happened once before. This trio proved effective for Bologna, as they created a lot of trouble for the opposition. They were all involved in Destro’s goal, which should give the striker some confidence going forward. The defending against Verona was horrible though, as Donadoni’s side did not manage to nullify Verona’s crossing, their only threat going forward.
Best Rossoblù: Simone Verdi
Bologna 3-0 Sampdoria
Verdi (3′), M’baye (23), Okwonkwo (73′)
The last match of the month saw Bologna deliver their best performance so far this season. Bologna started the game in brilliant fashion, with Simone Verdi scoring after just three minutes into the game. Sampdoria had most of the ball after the goal, but it was Ibrahima M’baye who scored the second with a thumping header on a corner from Verdi. Vasilis Torosidis got two yellow cards in a matter of minutes right on the cusp of half-time, although the second of the cards was quite harsh. Bologna then had to play the entire second half one man down, and Sampdoria capitalized on this and had even more possession in this half. The pressure was enormous on Bologna the first half hour of the second half, but Sampdoria did not create a lot of clear-cut chances. Instead, it was Bologna who got the next goal, with Godfred Donsah’s brilliant run from his own half on the counter, and eventually the substitute Okwonkwo scoring. Sampdoria gave up after this goal, and Bologna cruised to a 3-0 win. Bologna delivered an almost perfect match, with astute defending, as they did not allow Sampdoria any space in the final third. They were also ruthless going forward, something which they have lacked earlier in the season. The pressure that mounted on Bologna in the second half was inevitable given the red card, but the team didn’t succumb to it, and that is a sign of great togetherness.
Best Rossoblù: Ibrahima M’baye
Simone Verdi continued his fine development, as he was the biggest reason for why Bologna managed to beat both Verona and Sampdoria, as well as scoring two brilliant free-kicks versus Crotone. He is now contributing both goals and assists in almost every match, but he is also contributing in defence. His work-rate versus Sampdoria was exceptional, and his ability to get out of the tightest positions under pressure is quite remarkable.
Another player who impressed this month was Mattia Destro. He finally got his first goal of the season versus Verona, and he delivered a hard-working display against Sampdoria. He was the unlucky one to be substituted after Torosidis’ red card, but he can be very happy about how he performed in November.
Orji Okwonkwo’s displays in November should see him given a chance to start in
December. Coming on against both Verona and Sampdoria to score, he is starting to prove how big of a talent he really is. His pace, close control, anticipation and work rate should put him in contention for the game against Cagliari. The rumour is that sporting director Ricardo Bigon is currently working on a contract extension for the young striker, something which he deserves given his recent performances. It would also send a message to any clubs that are interested in him.
A shout-out also has to be made to Roberto Donadoni. After four losses in a row, he has managed to turn the team’s form around, and the victory against Sampdoria was very impressive. His decision to bench Helander, who has played well this season, for De Maio proved decisive, as the French defender’s aerial abilities nullified the threat of Zapata. Kudos to Donadoni who is starting to prove that he can outsmart the best tacticians.
WHO DID WE EXPECT MORE FROM?
The Crotone game was a disappointment from the whole team, in particular the defense. So was the defending against Verona, as Emil Kraft struggled to cope with Daniele Verde. Krafth has now lost his place to M’baye. However, the Swede did not get a lot of help against Verona, and therefore all the blame should not be put on him.
Adam Masina is another player that seems to have lost his place. He was substituted ten minutes from half-time against Verona, and subsequently benched versus Sampdoria. The sending-off of Torosidis forced Donadoni to give Masina the second half, but it seems as though the coach has lost faith in him. He did well in the second half against Sampdoria though, and it will therefore be interesting to see if he will be included in the next game. Masina is still young, and he has a lot of quality. Now is the time for him to prove his quality to the coaching team, and fight for his place in the team.
HOW DID THE TEAM PLAY?
There has been an evident progression in how the team has played this month. Despite the loss, Bologna played with composure, and they were good at keeping the ball against Crotone. However, despite having over 60% of the possession in this game, Bologna still struggled to create a lot of chances, and they two goals they did score were free-kicks by Verdi. Bologna also made sure that Crotone did not get the opportunity to create a lot of chances, however, the one’s they did create they also scored. The defending on the three goals were terrible, and something that Donadoni has worked on to improve in the aftermath of that game.
The Verona game also saw Bologna have around 60% of the possession, but in contrary
to the Crotone game, Bologna managed to create several chances from open play. Destro scored his first goal of the season after Palacio and Verdi combined nicely, while the two other goal also came from open play. The defending against Verona was not good enough though, as Bologna struggled to stop Verona’s only threat, crossing the ball. A slight improvement came in the second half of the game, but overall not good enough.
Then came the Sampdoria game, where Bologna delivered a nearly perfect performance both in defence and attack. Here, Bologna did not have a lot of the possession, but they took their chances, while they defended with gusto. Donadoni set his players up to press Sampdoria so that they would not get any space in the last third. Despite Sampdoria having 60% of the possession, they did not create a lot of clear-cut chances, and this was mostly because of Bologna’s high press.
The progression from Crotone to Sampdoria is very clear, and something which Bologna should build on going into December. However, the context was quite different versus Sampdoria, with them having most of the ball. Despite this, Bologna should continue with the high pressure that was witnessed against Sampdoria, as this can be done against all teams. If Bologna keep pressing high, pass the ball well, and take their chances as they did in the last game, then they will be a handful for most teams.
WHATS NEXT? LOOKING AHEAD TO DECEMBER
December will be a tough month with a lot of games. First comes a game against Cagliari at home, before a trip to AC Milan. That game is followed by a visit by Juventus, before Bologna go to Chievo. The month’s last game is at home against Udinese.
Cagliari is a game Bologna should win, as is the game against Udinese. Chievo are always a difficult side to play, but still a team that can be beaten. The Milan game will be quite interesting, as they have struggled thus far. However, with new coach Gennaro Gattuso, one does not know what kind of team Bologna will face off against. The Juventus game is the most difficult, but Bologna has done well against the better teams this season, and they are not unbeatable. The month should at least result in seven points, but nine should be possible.
Photo: Bologna FC