Published On: Wed, Nov 6th, 2013

Bologna Club Focus: A Flat End To A ‘Very Good’ Week

Bologna LogoFollowing two victories that got the blood flowing in Bologna, Monday’s match with bottom club Chievo Verona offered the opportunity to enjoy a 9-point week.

Life imitated weather, though, as neither side could light up the tempestuous night with their skills with the pitch, and the match ended in something of a damp squib.

Another clean sheet for the Rossoblu, though, as they kept their unbeaten run going and kept Chievo fairly quiet throughout – having conceded an average of 2.75 goals per game over the first eight games, that marks a significant improvement.

The coverage offered in the 3-5-1-1 formation doing its business adequately though – as I hinted at last week – not providing quite enough of an attacking threat to create any chances good enough to bring a victory.

Progress, though.

Progress off the field, too, as agreements between club, fans and media have come into force. The fans will be able to attend training at Casteldebole once a week (most likely Thursday) and coach Stefano Pioli will do his pre-match briefing two days before Bologna’s games.

Following the irritation and disharmony that ran through the club earlier in the campaign, things seem to be brightening a little.

Pioli’s hand is strengthening using the new system. Although it came about out of necessity rather than design, the improvement in Bologna over the four games he’s operated a 3-5-1-1 is evident, the three clean sheets not just pleasing to Gianluca Curci but a base for the rest of the team, which is now looking more settled.

Following experiments with both Rolando Bianchi and David Moscardelli up front, Jonathan Cristaldo has made the advanced ‘1’ of the formation his own, though both the veteran Italians were thrown on in yesterday’s game as the Felsinei tried to snatch a winner – something their coach sounded rueful of after the match.

“Players have to take over and try to improve our attack,” he said. “We do not always become dangerous with multiple attackers, even though both of them had the chances to score”. The two have one goal between them in the first eleven games, with Bianchi yet to break his duck.

For Bologna to move forward, to progress up the table; something that is being regularly repeated amongst their players as an aim (and understandably so), that will need to improve. The forwards are getting chances (both Diamanti and Panagiotis Kone are amongst the top twenty crossers in Serie A, providing an average five between them per game) but seem unable to take them.

With the side visiting Bergamo to face Atalanta at the weekend, the Rossoblu should be able to go into that game with little fear; before heading into the international break with perhaps the possibility for a tweak of the unusual formation.

Certainly, Pioli suggested he might was aware of his side’s current limitations after Monday’s match.

Bologna FC v AC Chievo Verona - Serie A“We tried [to be more attacking],” he admitted. “We did not lose the balance. For us at this time, it is important to try to be compact and careful in defence”

The compactness has certainly brought about an improvement in performance, but in games such as Monday’s, where teams are happy to sit back, and in the coach’s words ‘do not allow rapid circulation’, being set up purely defensively will see points go begging in the same way.

Its an interesting quandary he finds himself in. If he sits on his hands, Bologna will remain hard to beat (which is good) but may end up drawing games they might otherwise win. If he changes anything, he risks losing the stability that has been found and seeing the side return to their form of early in the season.

It is true to say the formation doesn’t really make the most of the Rossoblu’s prime asset Alessandro Diamanti, too. His imagination and vision is playing something of a secondary role to the drive of Kone, and though Monday’s game didn’t allow either to showcase their considerable talents,  it will be interesting to see if Pioli is happy to keep both players at limited effectiveness or if he tries to allow them a little more freedom.

Diamanti seems happy enough with his more withdrawn role, approaching it with visible enthusiasm, but not apparently not as happy as he was after the victory at Cagliari for which he was suspended. Revealing that he watched the match on TV rather than travelling to Sardinia, he admitted he was grinning ‘like a fool’ at the end of what was Bologna’s performance of the season so far.

Following three points in eight games, Bologna have seven in three. Monday night was disappointing, but the fact that getting one point felt that way is progress in itself.

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