Two wins on the bounce was followed by a horrid performance versus Spal last weekend. Everything went wrong for Bologna in that game, as Andrea Poli went out injured and Giancarlo Gonzalez was sent off, both within the first ten minutes of the game. Bologna have a lot to improve from that game if they are to achieve a positive result against Atalanta.
Going into the match against La Dea, Bologna still find themselves in 12th. With 33 points, they can move past both Udinese and Fiorentina, although those two teams have a game in hand. Atalanta are currently in 8th with 38 points, six points behind Milan in 7th.
Hopefully, the performance against Spal will be seen, in the longer run, as a one-off game, and that Bologna continue their good form against Atalanta. Before the Spal game, they had won two games in a row, with impressive performances both against Sassuolo and Genoa. For then to travel to Ferrara and deliver such a weak performance was very surprising. Improvement is therefore needed against La Dea.
The first ten minutes of the Spal game disrupted a lot for Bologna as two players went off the field. Both of those players will not take part against Atalanta, as Gonzalez is serving his suspension, whilst Poli is out injured. That means that other players will have to step into the team. Against Spal, no players impressed much going forward, and this has to change this weekend. Simone Verdi started that game, his first since going of injured versus Napoli earlier this year. He didn’t look like his true self, not surprising given the amount of time he has spent off the field. Hopefully though, he’ll look more like himself this weekend.
Federico Di Francesco was another player that failed to impress against Spal. However, this cannot all be put on his shoulders, as he was used as a right wing back in that game. That role requires much more from him defensively, and it subsequently makes it more difficult for him to take part in attack. Di Francesco is a very exciting player, but he has not been able to show it in that role, and therefore it might be an idea for Roberto Donadoni to play him higher up the field. Ibrahima M’baye could easily step into the right wing back role versus Atalanta, a player who would bring more defensive security, something which is definitely needed against Alejandro Gomez.
Atalanta surprised everyone with their results last year. They eventually finished in 4th, securing a place in this season’s Europa League. This year, things have been a bit more difficult for them, but they are still having a very good season, and are currently in 8th, six points behind Milan in 7th but with a game in hand. They have therefore got everything to play for, as a place in Europa League next season is still very much up for grabs. Bryan Cristante and Josip Ilicic are their main marksmen this season, both with seven goals in Serie A thus far. Ilicic, who came from Fiorentina last summer, has also got six assists to his name. However, their main man up front is Papu Gomez. He has got four goals and seven assists to his name. The Atalanta captain is definitely the one to stop if Bologna are to get something out of this game.
Overall though, despite the brilliance of several players, the strength of Atalanta is their cohesiveness and togetherness. They never stop fighting, and they almost always play to the best of their abilities, even when the coach rotates the team.
For Bologna, there will be some notable absentees. Rodrigo Palacio has been out for some time now, but he trained partly with the group on Friday, and may be in contention for a place on the bench. Angelo da Costa is still injured. From the last game, Andrea Poli will have to watch this game from the stands, as he went out injured in the early minutes of that game. Additionally, Riccardo Orsolini has injured his right thigh, and will be out for approximately three to four weeks. Last but not least, Simone Romagnoli was training separately earlier this week because of an issue with his foot, and it is therefore uncertain whether he will be available versus Atalanta.
Also, Giancarlo Gonzalez will not take part as he will be serving his one-game suspension as a result of his red card versus Spal.
The biggest question before the game is whether Donadoni opts to keep going with three at the back, or if he’ll return to his regular 4-3-3 formation. Our guess is that, given the injury problems, he’ll return to four at the back. Gonzalez is suspended, whilst Romagnoli has been struggling with an injury. That leaves only two centre backs, which should mean that Donadoni returns to his regular formation.
Bologna (4-3-3): Mirante; M’baye, De Maio, Helander, Masina; Donsah, Pulgar, Dzemaili; Verdi, Destro, Di Francesco
Atalanta (3-4-1-2): Berisha; Caldara, Toloi, Masiello; Hateboer, De Roon, Freuler, Spinazzola; Cristante; Gomez, Ilicic
After a period of games with weaker opponents, Bologna now face their toughest test in a while. Coming from a disappointing result at Spal, Bologna need to redeem themselves with a good performance. If the team fire on all cylinders, that is definitely achievable.
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Photo: Bologna FC