Bologna face off against Hellas Verona who find themselves right in the thick of the relegation battle. The rossoblù are in their worst run of games of the season, five games without a win, a run that stretches all the way back to February. Facing a opponent that on paper is weaker, Bologna must get back to winnings ways this weekend.
Bologna’s league position of 11th hasn’t changed for some time now. But, the teams behind them have crept closer in recent weeks, while those in front have pulled away. It’s fair to say that Bologna have disappointed quite considerably after Christmas, or after November for that matter. The injury to Simone Verdi played some part in that, but overall it has been the entire team and in extension the coach that have performed under the required level. Facing the last seven games of the season, it is imperative to turn the bad form around, starting against Verona.
The game against Crotone was a game where it was expected that Bologna could finally turn their bad form around. Coming from two difficult games versus the two sides from the capital, Bologna could be somewhat encouraged by the performance against those two teams. To then perform as bad as they did against Crotone, a side who has been struggling throughout the season, was very surprising.
It was not easy to single out any stand-out performers from Bologna in that game. The passing lacked precision, there was no evident conviction or plan going forward, and the front three all had a bad day at the office. Rodrigo Palacio, a player who terrorized the defence of both Lazio and Roma, struggled, while Federico Di Francesco and Simone Verdi never got into the game. Almost no chances from open play was very disappointing, and the only times Bologna were close to creating anything was through Verdi’s free kicks.
Roberto Donadoni stuck with his tried and tested 4-3-3 formation versus Crotone after having returned to it against Roma the game before. What was evident in both those games was the fact that the shift away from three at the back did not weaken the defence. It seems as the though the stint with 3-5-2 has improved the defence drastically, but the attack struggled against Crotone. This has to change if Verona are to be beaten on Sunday.
The last time Bologna faced Hellas Verona, the rossoblù won 3-2. Verona were in the lead two times during the game, but Bologna won thanks to goals by Mattia Destro, Orji Okwonkwo and Godfred Donsah.
Overall, Bologna should win this game, both given the respective league standing of both teams, and the difference in quality between the two sides. Verona have struggled throughout the season, but they do come with lifted spirits given that they won against Cagliari last weekend. That was an essential game for them given that both teams are down there in the gutter.
Godfred Donsah was injured versus Crotone, and that means that Blerim Dzemaili will likely step back into the team. Giancarlo Gonzalez has still not returned to full training, which means that Filip Helander and Sebastien De Maio most likely will continue to form the central defence.
Vasilis Torosidis has been injured since the last game, and the Greece international will be out for approximately three weeks. That means that Ibrahima M’baye will probably step into the team to replace the veteran.
Formation-wise, it would be very surprising if Donadoni does not continue to deploy the 4-3-3. The coaching team have been putting the players through tactical and technical exercises, something which was very much needed given the attacking display in Calabria.
Otherwise, no huge changes will be made, which means that the team will be very similar to those who faced Crotone.
Bologna (4-3-3): Mirante; M’baye, De Maio, Helander, Masina; Poli, Pulgar, Dzemaili; Verdi, Palacio, Di Francesco
It is imperative that Bologna return to winning ways this weekend. We wrote this last weekend before the game against Crotone as well, and given how that game ended it is even important that Bologna win against Verona.
What are your expectations of the match? Let us know in the comments below!