Match Preview: Spal

Another Emilia-Romagna derby for Bologna. With two wins on the bounce, Bologna hope to make it three in Ferrara. Here is our preview:

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Two victories on the bounce mean that Bologna travel to Ferrara full of confidence. The newly promoted side are a team that Bologna, on paper, should beat. However, the last time the two sides met witnessed a resilient Spal who fought until the end. To get the third consecutive victory, Bologna need to play to their best of abilities.

Bologna have been stranded in 12th for some time now. A period of six games stretching from December to February saw Bologna win only one game, and the teams in front of Bologna pulled away, while those behind creeped closer. However, the two wins against Sassuolo and Genoa have put Bologna in touching distance with the three teams in front of them, with only three points separating Bologna from Torino in 9th. Spal, on the other hand, have throughout the season been fighting against relegation. They find themselves in 18th at the moment,  but only one single point from safety.

The game against Genoa was one of the best defensive performances of the season, and one of the factors that contributed to this was Roberto Donadoni’s decision to play a back three. His 3-5-1-1 formation made the team very compact in midfield, which made it difficult for Genoa to break through. However, the two sides nullified each other in the first half as no real chances came for either side. The lucky goal by Mattia Destro forced Genoa’s hand as they needed to put more players forward to chase the equalizer. This made the game much easier for Bologna. To avoid a repetition of the stale-mate from the first half versus Genoa, Donadoni will have to change parts of his line-up, but three at the back should continue.

Mattia Destro was Bologna’s best player against Genoa. He played like he had something to prove, not surprising given the recent speculation surrounding him. He’ll probably start against Spal as well, regardless of which formation Donadoni opts for. César Falletti was another player that impressed against Genoa. He came on in a period of the game where Bologna had more space to attack, and he contributed heavily with a goal, and an overall good performance. He should be under consideration to start versus Spal, but his inclusion depends on the fitness of Simone Verdi, who is rumoured to be ready for the game.

Spal’s season has been as anticipated for a newly promoted side. They have got four victories thus far, with all of them against other teams in the lower echelons of the table. They won a very important game last round away at Crotone, which was crucial for them in their search for another season in Serie A. Having scored 26 goals this season, they are the best attacking side of the bottom eight. Mirco Antenucci has been their best player by far, as has got seven goals and six assists to his name. Alberto Paloschi is also a player who has done well, and he has got six goals and one assist. Their coach Leonardo Semplici is renown for his desire to play attractive football, and you wont see any side of his just sit back to defend.


The biggest question pre-game is whether Donadoni will go for his regular 4-3-3 formation, or if he’ll continue to deploy the successful 3-5-1-1 formation he used against Genoa. Our guess is that he’ll continue with three at the back, but that he’ll make some alterations from the last game. The struggles of the first half against Genoa must not be replicated against Spal, but this can be avoided if the coach opts for a more creative player behind Destro.

Bologna does not have many injuries at the moment. Rodrigo Palacio is definitely out, and Angelo da Costa will also be unavailable for selection because of injury. This does not affect the line-up in any way, but it does mean that young prodigy Federico Ravaglia will make the bench. Andrea Poli went out injured against Genoa, and his fitness will have to be monitored up until the game. Verdi has shown promising signs in training of late, and he can return to the line-up this weekend.

Expected line-ups:

Spal (3-5-2): Meret; Simic, Vicari, Cionek; Lazzari, Kurtic, Viviani, Grassi, Mattiello; Antenucci, Paloschi

Bologna (3-5-1-1): Mirante; Gonzalez, Romagnoli, Helander; Di Francesco, Poli, Pulgar, Dzemaili, Masina; Verdi, Destro

Another Emilia-Romagna derby for the team, and hopefully another three points. A win here could take Bologna into the upper half of the table, and it would be very important to come from a good result when going into a more difficult period, with games against Atalanta, Lazio and Roma.

What are your thoughts about the game? Let us know in the comments below!

Photo: Bologna FC

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