After losing to Juventus on Wednesday evening (no shame in that, right?), Bologna were hoping to come back on short rest and gain another 3 points in the standings. They did just that, and after going down 0-1, scored two unanswered goals and picked up their second win of the season. The last time Bologna faced Udinese, the rossoblù lost 0-1 in the last match of last season. At that time, they looked sluggish and more than ready for the off-season. This time, however, the energy was there – along with a few new faces – and with this win, the team seems a far cry from the one that just a week ago had left their fans wondering if they would ever score a goal this season. Filippo Inzaghi seems to be coming into his own on the sidelines, and his lineup choices and substitutions worked out well.
Bologna did seem a little flat at the opening whistle. Their defence was prone to getting caught a bit forward as Udinese controlled the flow for much of the first half hour. Bologna were not without their chances, however, as Mattiello snuck the ball through the defender’s legs, with the cross eventually finding its way to Santander who just couldn’t get the ball past the Udinese goal keeper.
Bologna couldn’t seem to get things going and in the 32nd minute, Ignacio Pussetto took a pass from downfield and was able to flick it into the goal to give Udinese the lead. Not to take anything away from Pussetto, but the Bologna defence really should not have let this one get through.
The match stayed this way for another ten minutes, when Federico Santander sent an absolute bullet of a shot from the top of the penalty area that ricocheted down from the cross bar and into the goal, evening the score. With only three minutes left until half-time, this sent the fans at Dall’Ara into a frenzy, and really set the tone for the second half of the match. With Santander’s equalizer, the score was tied 1-1 at the half.
The second half saw both teams get more aggressive. Udinese ended up totaling four yellow cards. Mattias Svanberg and Adam Nagy both received yellow cards for Bologna but nothing serious came from this faster pace of play. Svanberg had two nice shots in the half. One in the 55th minute from the left corner of the penalty area was lofted over the goal keeper and sailed just wide of the right post, and one in the 57th minute came off a corner kick that he took at the top of the penalty arc; a hard shot that curved to the left of the goal. From this point on, Bologna really seemed to control the ball. They had opportunities, but couldn’t put anything away.
Things got a little heated in the 72nd minute when Udinese midfielder Valon Behrami was called for a foul on Diego Falcinelli. Behrami was shown a yellow card and took issue with what he seemed to claim was Falcinelli taking a dive. A few words were exchanged but nothing more serious came of it. Falcinelli was substituted out three minutes later for Orji Okwonkwo, and in the 79th minute, despite Svanberg’s good play, Inzaghi substituted him out for the youngster Riccardo Orsolini. This decision would prove to be key.
In the 82nd minute, Mattiello, from outside the penalty area, fired the ball into the Udinese defender. It bounced back to Orsolini who was standing nearby. He quickly passed back to Mattiello and cut into the box where Mattiello fed a nice and accurate pass that the youngster shot past the goal keeper to give Bologna a 2-1 lead. As one would expect, this drove the faithful fans and the home team at Dall’Ara crazy. Orsolini was particularly excited of course, and he and Inzaghi embraced on the sidelines.
There were a few more chances for Bologna to add to the score in the last few minutes – most notably Santander had a chance one on one with the Udinese goal keeper, but Simone Scuffet made a nice save on a hard shot that was unfortunately directly at him. Orsolini also had another opportunity in extra time, but it was blocked as well. In the end, Bologna were the better team, deserved the win and came away with a 2-1 victory.
What We Learned:
Federico Santander and Riccardo Orsolini are good! Bologna’s biggest problem so far this season is scoring goals – plain and simple. Santander’s height helps him win many headers, and his strength is evident when he rears back and fires the ball at the goal. After years of underwhelming performances by Mattia Destro, and the current injury to Rodrigo Palacio (who is 36 years old and won’t be around forever anyway), it is time to give the lion’s share of the opportunities to the younger players. Santander is 27 and in his prime, and Orsolini is just 21 and developing quickly.
Inzaghi seems to be coming into his own as coach. After a rough start, a surprise win against Roma, a respectable showing against Juventus, and now another 3 points against Udinese, the schedule opens up and the opportunity for more wins is there in the coming weeks. Sticking with Mattiello and Santander this week – the two goal scorers against Roma – proved to be a smart decision, as Santander scored the equalizer, and Mattiello gave the assist to Orsolini for the game winner.
Attacking: Multiple goals scored for the second time in three matches. Udinese is not a bad team, and Bologna outplayed them today. Santander is becoming a fan favorite, and if he keeps scoring goals, he may be the powerful, play-making striker that Inzaghi so desperately needs. Palacio eventually coming back will be a positive of course, but in the meantime, players like Mattiello, Orsolini, and Orji Okwonkwo taking up the slack could really be a positive for the depth of the offense.
Coaching: Inzaghi made the right substitutions at the right time. Staying the course with players like Diego Falcinelli has made Inzaghi the target of much social media derision, but starting players like Krejci today, show that he is able to adapt. Putting Orsolini in when he did was a clear attempt to be aggressive and try to get three points, instead of playing for the draw. Moves like this will ingratiate him with the fans and even if he fails from time to time, he will eventually accumulate a lot of goodwill and be able to coach without fear or second-guessing himself.
Defending: In the first 30 minutes, the defence looked flat and Udinese was able to break through a few times, though fortunately nothing really came of it. Against a better team though, Bologna could have been down 0-2 early. This is exactly what happened at Juventus and so this needs to change. Fortunately after that, the defence played better though.
Federico Santander: The Paraguayan striker is quickly becoming a fan favorite. His 1.87 meter (6’2″ to my American friends) and 84 kg (185 lbs.) frame enabled him to overpower a lot of other players out on the field today. He shot the ball hard and accurately and if today is any indication of things to come, he could end up being a very positive signing for Bologna this year.
Away at Cagliari (a must-win) and then home against Torino (a tougher match, but still winnable) are the next two matches on the schedule. If Bologna can come away with at least 4 points from these two matches, then the season will be off to a much stronger start than what we thought we were in store for after the initial 4 goalless games. Things are falling in to place.
Photo: Bologna FC