What can we expect from the second half of the season?

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Well, well, well. It has been a crazy season so far, with Bologna residing in 10th while accumulating 27 points. This Bologna side has accumulated more points than any other Bologna team since the 2002/03 team. That 02/03 Bologna side had a hell of a team, with the Rossoblu lining with Beppe Signori, Julio Cruz, and Carlo Nervo. This year’s Bologna squad has been led by a mix of younger and more experienced players with Marko Arnautovic, Nico Dominguez, Arthur Theate, Musa Barrow, Mattias Svanberg, and Aaron Hickey all playing leading roles. When talking to fellow Bologna junkies, Rossoblu Report and Spazio Bologna, both agree that Nico Dominguez has been our best player during the first half of the season. I’d also have to agree, the team looked incredibly lost when Dominguez was forced to miss the match against Torino. As someone who has been pushing for Dominguez to get more playing time, I am extremely excited that he has been playing so well. Sadly, vultures appear to be circling with Atletico Madrid rumored to be interested in the Argentine.

Even though we’ve only played 19 games to date, the season has been a rollercoaster of emotions. We’ve had spells where we looked incredible and others where the team has looked completely lost. The highlights of the season so far have to be our 3-0 win against Lazio or 1-0 win against Roma at the Dall’Ara. The lowlight of the season will always be our 5-4 loss to Ternana, who in case you were wondering is currently 12th in Serie B. 

The changing point in the season was Mihajlovic’s decision to shift the formation from a 4-2-3-1, to a 3-4-2-1. With the shift to a more pragmatic set-up, we have been able to post 7 clean sheets, which is more than we had all last season. The back three has largely been made up of Adama Soumoaro, Arthur Theate, and Gary Medel. If you told me at the start of the season that Gary Medel would be playing as the central center-back in a back three I would have thought you were lying. I am still confused how a 170cm center back is able to control and lead a back three without getting exploited more regularly. Even though Medel has been rock solid, I still get my heart in my mouth everytime a cross gets thrown into the middle of the box. 

Our midfield four have typically been Aaron Hickey, Mattias Svanberg, Nicolas Dominguez, and Lorenzo Di Silvestri. The first three midfielders have been solid all season, but I still think that we need to find a replacement for Di Silvestri. A majority of our chances have come on the left side thanks to Hickey’s incredible performances to date. We have been linked to multiple right sided players including Hugo Siquet, Bryan Reynolds, Gabriele Zappa, Raoul Bellanova, Lars Ranger, Bartosz Bereszynski, Manuel Lazzari, and Calvin Ramsay. Hugo Siquet is off the market with the player recently being sold to Freiburg. Ramsay has been the player most recently linked to Bologna, with the Scot likely being available for about $4 million.

Our front three has most frequently been occupied by Musa Barrow, Roberto Soriano, and Marko Arnautovic. I think that one of our weakest positions has been our right wing/right attacking midfielder. To date, Soriano has played below the standard he set last season, with the playmaker only being involved in 7% of Bologna’s goals while playing in 85% of the minutes. During matches, Soriano typically drops deep and centrally to get the ball, leaving a massive gap on the right side of the field. Soriano’s desire to get onto the ball and act as a traditional central attacking midfielder, affects our ability to have a balanced attack. Further, We do not have the players that can easily fit into our front three formation. Over the last three years we have invested into Orsolini and Skov Olsen who prefer to play as wingers. With the current formation we aren’t playing with out-and-out wingers, with Orsolini and Skov Olsen playing more frequently as a right wing back this season then as an attacking player. Barrow and Arnautovic have been good so far this season, with Barrow starting off the season relatively slow. The Gambian had to wait until the sixth game of the season to score his first goal of the season. The Gambian is going to be badly missed as he will miss most of January due to the African Cup of Nations. Arnautovic has played well for the Rossoblu with the team playing significantly better when the Austrian is involved.

I think that I am not the only one who is excited and optimistic for the second half of the season. We will try to be more active during the second half of the season. 

As always, Sempre Bologna

PHOTO: Bologna FC

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