Bologna face off against Sassuolo on Sunday afternoon. With only three points to shove from the last six games, Bologna are in desperate need for points. The visitors have also struggled of late, and are winless in six. Everything is set for a tight affair, as both teams will want to return to winning ways in the Emilia-Romagna derby.
The loss against Inter last weekend saw Bologna drop from 12th to 13th, with Genoa surpassing them in the table. The first half against Inter was quite positive, but the team failed to build on that going into the second half, as Inter won deservedly. Bologna are now six points behind Udinese in 10th and the upper half of the table, as it looks as this season as well be a disappointment. Cagliari in 14th are only two points behind, while Sassuolo behind them are four points behind Bologna. A loss this weekend would therefore put Bologna firmly in the lower echelons of the table.
The biggest problem against Inter was the attacking display. No player besides Rodrigo
Palacio managed to create anything of importance, and Inter subsequently got it all too easy. Still without Simone Verdi, as well as the suspended Palacio, Bologna need improvement against Sassuolo if they are to return to winning ways. Big onus will be put on the shoulders of Mattia Destro, who is expected to return to the starting line-up. He will have a lot to prove given recent comments by Roberto Donadoni about his level of determination. With Bologna’s top marksmen missing against Sassuolo, Destro will be leading the line, and the pressure will definitely be on him to perform.
However, all pressure can not be put on the former Roma player. Federico Di Francesco will also start the game, bar any unforseen circumstances, and he, too, must take responsibility. He has been in and out of the team this season, and with new boy Riccardo Orsolini having already impressed the coach, Di Francesco must perform to keep his place in the team. Verdi (when healthy) and Palacio are given in Bologna’s starting line-up at the moment, and that means that Destro, Orsolini and Di Francesco will have to fight it out for the last spot in attack.
Sassuolo’s season have been a rollercoaster. They started the season quite terribly, with new coach Cristian Bucchi having taken over for Eusebio Di Francesco. Bucchi was fired in November, and in came Giuseppe Iachini. After he took over, the club has steadily climbed up the table, with the highlight of the season being their 1-0 win over Inter. They are now in 15th, six points above relegation. Matteo Politano has been there best player thus far, with three goals and three assists to his name. Alessandro Matri as well has three goals to his name, while the former brilliant Domenico Berardi has struggled this season.
It will be quite the different side that starts against Sassuolo to what was the case against Inter. As mentioned above, Verdi is still out injured, although he has returned to training. Palacio got his fifth yellow card of the season at Inter, and is suspended for one game. Adam Masina and Ibrahima M’baye both got injured at Inter, and will therefore have to serve their suspensions versus Sassuolo. Angelo Da Costa has also been struggling with an injury lately, but he wouldn’t have started the game if healthy.
The aforementioned injuries and suspensions bring up quite a few talking points. With the two first-choice full backs suspended, the likely one’s to start the game is Emil Krafth on the right side, and Vasilis Torosidis on the left. Central defence will most likely be Giancarlo Gonzalez and Sebastien De Maio, while the regular trio is expected to start in central midfield. Destro will most likely lead the line, with Di Francesco and Orsolini on either side of him.
Bologna (4-3-3): Mirante; Krafth, Gonzalez, De Maio, Torosidis; Poli, Pulgar, Dzemaili; Orsolini, Destro, Di Francesco
Sassuolo (4-3-3): Consigli; Lirola, Goldaniga, Acerbi, Peluso; Missirola, Magnanelli, Duncan; Berardi, Babacar, Politano
The pressure will be huge for Bologna to return to winning ways, but it will be no easy task as Sassuolo too are in desperate need for a win. Several fringe players will be given the opportunity to prove their worth to the team. Neither Krafth nor Torosidis have impressed this season, and they can with a good performance win back their place in the team, especially given the performances of Masina and M’baye lately. Destro and Di Francesco also have to perform in this game if they are to be regular starters for Bologna. Improvement is needed if Bologna are to return to winning ways, fingers crossed the team put in a good performance.
Photo: Bologna FC