Bologna beat Genoa Saturday evening. The first half was one of the most boring halves this season, but after the break Bologna did not look back. With a goal and an assist from Mattia Destro, and astute defending with three at the back, Bologna moved past two teams in the table.

Roberto Donadoni opted for three at the back against Genoa. Giancarlo Gonzalez, Simone Romagnoli and Filip Helander formed the central defence, with Adam Masina and Federico Di Francesco as wing backs. The central midfield was composed of Andrea Poli, Erick Pulgar, and a rare cameo for Adam Nagy. The front two were Destro and Blerim Dzemaili.

What we learned:

It was a game of two halves. Donadoni’s choice to opt for three at the back made Bologna very compact, and difficult for Genoa to break through. However, in the first half it also made it difficult for Bologna to create anything going forward, as Genoa seemed happy to sit with all eleven players behind the ball. Bologna did the same thing when Genoa had the ball, which resulted in neither team managing to create anything of importance. However, in the second half, thanks to Destro’s early goal, Genoa had to move further ahead on the field to try to get back into the game, and this gave Bologna more space to attack. This eventually led to Falletti’s goal, and game over.

Donadoni’s choice to play with three at the back was very interesting. As the coach has clearly seen the defensive issues Bologna have had lately, he opted for a more defensive approach with three central defenders. This denied Genoa any real chances in the first half, but Genoa also struggled going forward after the break. Given the result, Donadoni will probably be considering to keep going with this formation, and no wonder why. Today’s performance was one of the best defensive performances of the season.

Mattia Destro made a claim for a place in the team. It’s no secret that Destro has been struggling this season, but he has looked promising of late. Today, especially in the second half, Destro was the best player on the field. He won headers, drew fouls, scored a goal, and gave a beautiful assist. If he keeps going like this, he will be one of the obvious starters for Donadoni. With Simone Verdi back from injury, the rest of the season is looking bright, even with Rodrigo Palacio out injured.

If Donadoni continues to play three at the back, improvement is needed going forward. The first half was one of the dullest halves of football this season. The two teams cancelled each other out with both playing three at the back. Destro’s (lucky) goal early on in the second half forced Genoa to commit more players going forward, and this meant more space for Bologna. If project three-at-the-back continues, Donadoni needs to find a way to penetrate defences. The team today lacked players that could dribble past an opponent and cause imbalance for Genoa. The passing was too slow, there was lack of any real movement, which made it easy for Genoa. The midfield was too congested at times, but this can be changed by including different players in the line-up. Four central midfielders were utilized from the first minute today, but a player like César Falletti or Riccardo Orsolini could possibly have caused more havoc for Genoa’s defence, instead of Dzemaili being the one to play behind Destro.

Best Rossoblù:

Mattia Destro: While the whole team played brilliantly throughout the game, especially in defence, Destro is our pick for man of the match. In particular in the second half, Destro was everywhere. He was crucial for Bologna by winning headers, closing down opponent players, in addition to the goal and the assist. Let’s hope he can keep it going!

What’s next?

Bologna’s next game is against Spal next Saturday. An Emilia-Romagna derby where Bologna should get the three points, if they play to their best. If they  replicate the defensive performance from the Genoa game, as well as improve the attack, a win is definitely achievable, especially as Verdi may be involved again after his injury.

What did you think of the match? Who was your man of the match? Let us know in the comments below!


Photo: Bologna FC

Posted by Fredrik Bakke

Founder of Sempre Bologna. Football writer at CalcioNorge. Student of English language & literature.


  1. I think Donadoni trusts Dzemaili a lot, this is why he risked him as the player behind Destro.

    I agree with your review. What I saw in this match is a definite growth of confidence in the second half, which is what we need to capitalize on to fill the gaps that are still present, especially in defense and when playing the ball to attack.



    1. My comment was not meant as a dig at Dzemaili, more that he probably should have been part of the midfield three at the expense of Nagy (although the Hungarian is a player I’m quite fond of). A player like Falletti behind Destro could have created more space, but I understand why Donadoni opted for Dzemaili, as he is a very good player who rarely makes mistakes.



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