38 games of Serie A-football are in front of us. Ups and downs, highs and lows, goals and sliding tackles, thrills and disappointments. As Serie A returns today, and with Bologna opening their league season tomorrow, here is what to expect.
The mercato thus far
The summer transfer window started with kind of a bang, when Bologna appointed Giovanni Sartori from Atalanta as the new technical director. He has been a part of La Dea’s epic rise in Italian football of recent years. He therefore came with a lot of expectations of shrewd signings. And as Bologna have sold three important players this summer, Sartori will be even more essential as the club are trying to strengthen the team.
Going into the summer, the mantra was that Bologna had to sell before buying new players. And as said as done, Aaron Hickey, Mattias Svanberg and Arthur Theate all left for greener pastures in other leagues. The Scot was replaced quite quickly by a loan move for Andrea Cambiasso and free transfer Charalampos Lykogiannis, whilst in midfield a new Scot has arrived in Lewis Ferguson.
In defence, the team does look very short of quality options as we are just hours away from the opening game. As of today, the only senior options in central defence are Adama Soumaoro and Kevin Bonifazi, although Gary Medel was moved into defence last season and he will most likey play there this season as well.
That is just three players for a position were Sinisa Mihajlovic plays with three players each game, and we should expect at least one, but likely two new players here come the end of the Mercato.
This summer we have also been witnessing the saga of the new (backup) striker. It became evident quite early that Bologna were on the lookout for an option up front to Marko Arnautovic, and as thus, Bologna have been linked with lots of names.
At one point, Lorenzo Lucca at Pisa seemed to be a done deal, but then Ajax hijacked that move. Norwegian striker Jørgen Strand Larsen has probably been the player mentioned the most, but his club Groningen has priced him out of a move.
Even though the season starts this weekend, one has to expect that Bologna will be active in the mercato in the coming days.
Even though the league season starts tomorrow for Bologna, the club has already commenced the season with a 1-0- win in the Coppa Italia versus Cosenza, with Nicola Sansone scoring the only goal of the match.
I did not watch the match my self, but I did find it interesting that we seem to be moving from a 3-4-3 to a 3-5-2. That could provide more defensive stability, but hamper our attacking power. As per the statistics, Bologna dominated the game, but failed to score more than the once.
Since last time, a situation developed around Marko Arnautovic.
He came to Bologna last summer and having impressed in Serie A, several clubs have been linked with him during the summer.
The latest in the line of suitors was Manchester United, and the striker was, apparently, interested in the move to England. According to the papers, Bologna refused a bid for him, and as the United supporters went online protesting the possible transfer, it seems as it all have died out. A most peculiar situation, but hopefully Marko will have his head in the right place now that the season is about to start. Time will indeed tell.
What to expect
And tomorrow it all begins, when Bologna go to Rome to face off against Lazio. A very tough opening match, especially given the lack of options in central defence. With the players available and the line-up versus Cosenza, I would expect a line-up like this:
De Silvestri-Schouten, Soriano, Dominugez, Lykogiannis
It is very difficult to predict what will come off this season. We have lost three important players, and are yet to replace them going into the season. I find it very hard seeing Bologna brake into the upper half of the table, an ambition that has been put forward more than once by the owner, Joey Saputo.
The season will also be hampered by a disgraceful world cup in November/December, and that will take its toll on the clubs that have to send the most players there. I am therefore not fairly optimistic for this season, but still, it feels so good that a new season is upon us.
The summer break truly is far too long, and I, for one, can’t wait for tomorrow. Forza Bologna!
PHOTO: Bologna FC