Bologna Club Focus: Celebrate Good Times
Bologna continued their run of two steps forward, one step back, against Juventus on Saturday evening. The Rossoblú displayed a defensive resilience which has often been absent from their game for much of this season, whilst their attack was stifled by Juventus’ defensive wall.
Coach, Stefano Pioli, fielded a familiar 4-2-3-1 formation, aimed at pressuring the midfield and restricting Juventus’s opportunity for counter-attacks. Frederik Sorensen missed the chance to face his former employers, so Mikael Antonsson returned at centre-back. Whilst Lazaros Christodoulopoulos sat on the bench in place of Panagiotis Kone. The attacking triad of Manolo Gabbiadini, Alessandro Diamanti and Alberto Gilardino was tasked with finding a chink in Juventus’ armour.
Pioli’s tactics appeared to be working well, with Bologna pressing Juventus’ midfield and restricting the supply to Mirko Vucinic and Sebastian Giovinco. The effect was clear to see as both forwards struggled to link with their midfield counterparts and grew frustrated. Juventus racked up a total of 16 shots throughout the match, but only managed five on target; indicative of Bologna’s effective tactics.
Bologna looked to hit Juventus with quick transitional play, finding Gabbiadini or Kone on the wings and cutting in. Diamanti was allowed to drift across the pitch, finding gaps to float into. However, Juventus cleverly marked Gilardino out of the fixture. The Italian striker was unable to hold up play and his failure to do so restricted Diamanti’s influence. Gilardino’s total of 14 touches conveys his struggle.
Unfortunately for Bologna, they were undone by some masterful play from Claudio Marchisio. The Italian was able to break from deep, supply Mirko Vucinic with a sublime pass, which the Montenegrin converted with a fine finish putting the Bianconeri ahead on 61 minutes.
Marchisio struck again on 71 minutes, making another run from deep, he exchanged a neat one-two pass with Vucinic, before calmly firing past a hapless Gianluca Curci. It’s arguable that Bologna’s tired legs restricted their ability to prevent Marchisio’s run, but they really should have reacted better.
Bologna will feel hard done by, but ultimately Juventus had too much for the home side and they remain 11th in the Serie A table.
Pioli criticized Antonio Conte for over-celebrating Juventus’ second goal, stating, “You need respect even in victory. Certain things shouldn’t be done.”
This provoked a fierce reaction from Conte, whom whilst upset with Pioli’s comments, was irked by the fierce reception Bologna fans greeted Juventus’ team bus upon arrival at the stadium. Conte went so far as to suggest he may look to leave Italy, “If I have to expect a welcome like this in Bologna, then I say that it really makes me want to leave Italy and go abroad. It must be a simpler life elsewhere.”
Before the match Bologna fans had gathered to greet the Juventus’ team bus to town, armed with rocks and sticks. Gruesome scenes erupted as fans pelted the bus with the rocks and proceeded to attempt to smash the windows with sticks. Some individuals went as far as to spit on the bus too.
But this was not all. A group of fans had prepared a banner, hung in the stadium, appearing to ‘praise’ the Heysel stadium disaster; in which 39 Juventini tragically perished. Although the banner was swiftly removed by club staff, it marks the darker side of Serie A.
There is no need for any football fans to produce such a banner and it only highlights the ongoing cultural problems Italy experiences. It is yet to be seen if the authorities will take action against the club for this.
Moving forward, Bologna face an away trip to Udine to take on the Zebrette. With his side all but guaranteed their status in Serie A next season, Pioli is likely to field his four-man attack once more and has stated his ambition to finish the season on a high.
Fans of Bologna will hope Diamanti and co. deliver on this promise. They can also relish the potential return of Marco Di Vaio who left the club last summer to head to the MLS. The Italian striker appears keen to ply his trade on the Peninsula once more and a return to Bologna isn’t out of the question.