Another month has gone by, and Sempre Bologna will as always provide you with our monthly review. Here, we summarise each game, pick out any stand-out performances, and look at trends in how Bologna have 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 falling down the table in December. After a month with two losses and one win, Bologna remain in 12th, five points behind Atalanta in 8th. Here is a breakdown of each match the past month:
Torino 3-0 Bologna
De Silvestri (38′), Niang (53′), Falqué (85′)
Torino, under new coach Mazzarri, started the game off with a bang as they clearly wanted to impress their new coach. Torino dominated the first half possession wise, but they struggled to get the all-important 1-0 goal. Right when you were thinking that Bologna could be able to go into half-time at 0-0, Torino managed to take the lead through De Silvestri’s headed goal. That goal gave Torino confidence, but just after the break, Bologna got a penalty through Verdi. Pulgar stepped up and missed the spot-kick, and only a minute after, Torino doubled their lead. Falqué made it 3-0 five minutes from full-time, and an embarrassing game, from Bologna’s point of view, was over. This game, as so many others this season, was full of mistakes by Bologna players. No one was there to pick up De Silvestri’s run at the near post for the first goal, Pulgar misplaced his pass that led to the second, while Falqué got too much time on the ball for the third. This had been a recurring theme for Bologna before this game, and it continued during it.
Best Rossoblù: Rodrigo Palacio
Bologna 3-0 Benevento
Destro (35′), De Maio (73′), Dzemaili (88′)
After a rough period with just one win in six games, Bologna got back to winning ways versus Benevento. The away-side seemed like the strongest team from the first whistle, not too surprising given their recent upswing in form. Despite this, it was Bologna that eventually took the lead in the 35th minute. Verdi put in an inch-perfect free kick from the right hand side, which Destro subsequently met with enough power and precision to send Bologna into the lead. Bologna, who were captained by Verdi on the day as a tribute to him declining Napoli’s offer, started the second half in much stronger fashion than the first, but it wasn’t until the 73rd minute that the lead was doubled. In a goal quite similar to Destro’s in the first half, Verdi put in a free kick from the left hand side, which De Maio easily put past the goalkeeper. After some confusion related to a potential offside, the goal was eventually confirmed, and the French defender’s first goal for the club was a fact. That goal took the sting out of the game, but Verdi and Bologna were not satisfied with the result. With just two minutes left before full-time, Bologna went on a break which eventually led to Verdi passing to Dzemaili. The Swiss midfielder advanced with the ball towards Benevento’s box, and fired his shot past the goalkeeper from just outside the edge of the area, and Dzemaili had therefore picked up right where he left off last season, by scoring goals.
Best Rossoblù: Simone Verdi
Napoli 3-1 Bologna
M’baye (5′ OG), Mertens (37′, 59′)/Palacio (1′)
Bologna started the game in a brilliant fashion with Palacio opening the scoring after a mere 25 seconds on the clock. Napoli kicked off the game, but lost it almost immediately which led to Bologna countering. Di Francesco found Palacio at the far post with an exquisite cross which Palacio only had to put his head through to put Bologna in front. A great start for Bologna, but things turned around quickly. Not long after, Verdi was substituted with an injury, and in the subsequent attack, Napoli won a corner. They took it short, before the ball was swung into the box. The ball deflected off Palacio at the near post, and curled above everyone towards the far post. There, M’baye stood waiting to clear the ball, but his right-footed clearance bounced off his left foot, and into the goal. Napoli dominated the game from that point, but weren’t able to get their second goal. With just minutes remaining of the half, Napoli were awarded a penalty, when the referee deemed Callejon to have been pushed by Masina. VAR was used to review the incident, and Mertens scored. The decision to award the penalty was wrong though, as Masina barely graced the winger who saw the opportunity to fall to the ground. Mertens then scored his second of the day around the hour-mark, and from that point the game was over as Bologna never managed to trouble Napoli, while the home-side looked pleased with the result.
Best Rossoblù: Rodrigo Palacio
Rodrigo Palacio continued to impress me this month. In the game against Torino where basically no player put in a decent performance, Palacio worked hard, and was involved in the few instances where Bologna actually managed to cause problems for Torino. The veteran also put in a solid performance versus Benevento as he linked up well with Verdi, and overall contributed in causing problems for Benevento’s defenders. Last but not least, Palacio was Bologna’s best player versus Napoli, with a hard-working display where he got one goal, and really should have had at least one more.
Verdi’s display against Benevento is perhaps the best performance by any Bologna player this season. He was involved in everything Bologna did going forward, got three assists, and was unlucky not to score. Being that Benevento was the first game for Bologna after Verdi rejecting Napoli, the importance of Verdi to Bologna could not have been proved better by anything other than that kind of performance. Unfortunately for both Verdi and Bologna, the attacker went off injured a few minutes into the game against Napoli, and he is expected to miss quite a few games.
WHO DID WE EXPECT MORE FROM?
Bologna’s full-backs struggled throughout January. This was most evident against Napoli, where M’baye scored an own-goal, while Masina conceded a penalty (albeit a very soft penalty). The Senegalese was perhaps a bit unlucky, but Masina should have known better than to put his arm on Callejon inside the box. There now seems to be an emerging full-back problem at Bologna. Neither Krafth nor Torosidis have impressed this year, with the Swede having been linked with a move away, while Masina has struggled to live up to the promise he showed a couple of seasons ago. Bologna should be scouting new full-backs for the summer, as this is very clearly an area where strengthening is required.
HOW DID THE TEAM PLAY?
The month started with perhaps the worst game of the season. 3-0 loss against Torino, a side which had just changed manager, should not have been able to completely dominate Bologna in the way that they did. No player impressed in that game, as the team lacked any conviction going forward, as well as aggressiveness in defence.
Improvement came in the next game, versus Benevento, where the team fired on all cylinders. Verdi was the pick of the bunch in that game with three assists, but what was most positive in that game was the cohesion in the team. The attacking trio was fluid, which caused Benevento all sorts of trouble, while the defence, with De Maio and Maietta in the centre of it, completely shut out Benevento.
Then came the game against Napoli, where Bologna overall put forward a good performance. Despite Napoli dominating possession, Bologna could well have managed a positive result from the game, but Napoli’s second goal was quite damaging for Bologna. The penalty should not have been given, and the referee has got a lot to answer for making such a horrendous decision.
Overall, Bologna’s play improved from Torino to Napoli, which is not a big surprise given the abysmal performance versus Torino.
WHATS NEXT? LOOKING AHEAD TO FEBRUARY
February consists of four games, beginning with a derby at home against Fiorentina. Bologna then travel to play Inter, before the month is finished off with two home games against Sassuolo and Genoa. The latter two games should be won, but the game against Fiorentina is also winnable. Inter is undoubtedly the toughest opponent of the month, but Bologna did play very well against them earlier in the season, being the only at that point in the season to not lose against them. Given than Inter have struggled for quite some time now, Bologna can definitely managed a good result against them. The loss of Verdi will undoubtedly be noticed though, as he is rumoured be out for the entire month. This means that other players will get the opportunity to impress. A front three of Palacio, Di Francesco and Destro seems the most likely, but Krejci is also a player who could be given a chance to prove his worth.
Photo: Bologna FC