As 2019 began, Bologna were sliding down the Serie A table with little cause for optimism, and little hope for salvation. Their big name players were not performing, and nobody was stepping up to shine from the pack. Their troubles were not single spies, but battalions.
By the end of the year, with just two defeats in three months, the Rossoblu were sitting pretty under the stewardship of Sinisa Mihaljovic, safe from any fears and with a bright looking squad taking them into the summer. What a difference six months makes.
Player of the Season: Riccardo Orsolini
In a team of few stars but many standouts, Riccardo Orsolini has been so important during the second part of the season that is difficult to ignore him. With eight goals and five assists to his name, nobody has created more for the Rossoblu, despite 16 of his 35 appearances coming from the bench.
Best signing: Lukasz Skorupski
Lukasz Skorupski has emerged from his time in Rome to be a dependable, solid goalkeeper capable of some astonishing stops. His arrival may not have been the most heralded, but the Pole has kept 10 clean sheets this campaign, and the decision to bring him to the Stadio Renato Dall’Ara looks a masterstroke.
The Coach: Filippo Inzaghi/Sinisa Mihajlovic
Mihajlovic replaced the disappointing Filippo Inzaghi at the end of January, and has been able to effect an increase in Bologna’s points per game from 0.83 to an astonishing 1.76. The Rossoblu were woeful under the ex-Venezia boss and the turnaround facilitated by Mihajlovic shines a light on Inzaghi’s shortcomings. Mihajlovic’s team play 4-2-3-1 and he has been able to rotate successfully enough that since he took over, only Napoli have scored more goals (35) than the Felsinei’s 32.
With Bologna 2-1 up at Torino, a quick break saw Rodrigo Palacio roll the ball into the path of Orsolini, who steadied himself and clipped it past Salvatore Sirigu to seal the three points. That combination, and that goal, demonstrated the new Bologna – suddenly they were no longer that same relegation threatened side.
Despite the emergence of Orsolini, the Rossoblu attack is not the best equipped going forward. Federico Santander can operate as a battering ram, but Mattia Destro is too brittle, and 37-year-old Rodrigo Palacio will surely run out of steam eventually. A new face is required.