Bologna travel to face off against the league-leaders Sunday afternoon. The home-side have had a remarkable season thus far, and it looks like another team than Juventus can win the Scudetto this year. Despite this, all hopes for the game are not gone. In the reverse fixture earlier in the season, Bologna were the best side for 60 minutes, but failed to take advantage of this before Napoli scored three goals the last half hour of the game. With that performance in mind, and Simone Verdi eager to show Napoli what they missed when he rejected them, a positive result is definitely achievable.
Bologna finally got back to winning ways versus Benevento last weekend. After a period of abysmal performances it was essential for Bologna to regain some confidence and prove the potential of the team. Verdi put in yet another scintillating performance with three assists, whilst Blerim Dzemaili scored in his first game after his return to the club. With Mattia Destro also among the goalscorers, Bologna have got a lot of people in form at the moment, and this will be essential going forward if the team are going to gather some momentum in their pursuit of a higher position in the standings.
Bologna now face a period of very tough games. After Napoli, Bologna will face Fiorentina followed by Inter. The corresponding games earlier in the season saw Bologna winning only one point, and this tally needs to be improved. The toughest of the three games is Napoli though, and the team will need to be playing their best game if they are to trouble Napoli.
It will be interesting to see how Roberto Donadoni decides to compose his defence. Domenico Maietta and Sebastien De Maio were both excellent versus Benevento, and generally they’ve been very good in the five games they’ve played together this season. However, Donadoni tends to favour Filip Helander and Giancarlo Gonzalez, so we’ll see which pair he decides is best for this game. We published a piece on Bologna’s defence earlier in the week, be sure to check that one out here.
One of the biggest talking points before this game is definitely Verdi going to San Paolo to
play against Napoli. After he rejecting a move there a couple of weeks ago, several Napoli players have been talking about it with the media, and some Napoli fans have been trash talking Verdi because of his rejection. He’ll definitely be given a hostile treatment during the game by the home-fans, which is even more of a reason for him to dominate the game. Donadoni talked about the possibility of a hostile scene awaiting Verdi, saying:
Their fans don’t like it when one of their favourite players goes to play elsewhere. Therefore they should understand that one of our players might want to stay here. That’s fair.
Imagine Verdi deciding the game late-on in the game. The scenes.
Given Napoli’s attacking power, Bologna’s defence will need to be switched on at all times during the game. The tendency to give away cheap goals will have to be gotten rid of, if a positive result is to be achieved. The team was good against Benevento, but Napoli are of an entire different calibre.
No major changes are expected from the win against Benevento. The only concerns are in defence. Will Donadoni continue with De Maio and Maietta? The latter has struggled with an injury during the week, but he has returned to full training and should be available for selection.
Another question mark is around the regista. Last game saw Donadoni utilising Andrea Poli in the centre of the midfield-three, with Godfred Donsah and Dzemaili on either side. Erick Pulgar was sick, but he is now back and ready to be selected. Will Donadoni continue with midfield that functioned quite well, or will the Chilean step right back into it at the expense of Donsah? The coach has seemed to prefer Pulgar over the course of the season, and I don’t think neither Dzemaili nor Poli will be benched.
Yesterday in his press conference, Donadoni said that Pulgar is fit, and ready for selection. The same is Donsah, but there are some doubts about Gonzalez, whilst Avenatti is in contention for a place in the squad that travel to Naples.
Given the performance of the team last weekend, Donadoni is expected to continue with the 4-3-3 formation. That means that one of either Rodrigo Palacio or Federico Di Francesco will have to be on the bench, and given Palacio’s performance against Benevento the most likely to do that is Di Francesco.
Napoli (4-3-3): Reina; Hysaj, Koulibaly, Albiol, Maggio; Allan, Jorginho, Hamsik; Callejon, Mertens, Insigne
Bologna (4-3-3): Mirante; M’baye, De Maio, Maietta, Masina; Poli, Pulgar, Dzemaili; Verdi, Destro, Palacio
Definitely one of the toughest games of the season, but Bologna should give Napoli a good fight. If Bologna have got a little bit of luck throughout the game, as well an ability to take their chances, a good result might happen, especially if Verdi continues where he left off against Benevento.
What are your hopes for the game? Let us know in the comments below!
Photo: Bologna FC