Things near the foot of the table could get considerably tougher for Bologna as the winter evenings begin to draw in and we near the Christmas break. The 2-1 reverse at the hands of Roma on Sunday cast aside a lot of the good work done by the Rossoblu to overcome Siena the week before and condemned them to their sixth defeat of the season.
With Inter, Lazio and local rivals Parma on the agenda for Bologna between now and putting their feet up for the extended time off, Sunday’s game is already nearing the ‘must-win’ category in Coach Franco Colomba’s mind. A failure to make the Renato Dall’Ara a fortress has seen Bologna shed useful points to lowly opposition this season and the Rossoblu will need to put in a fine defensive performance or face being punished again.
Palermo Coach Walter Zenga will also look to improve on the Rosanero’s most recent showings despite a very good start to the season. A 0-0 draw with a Genoa side struggling in the post Diego Milito-aftermath on Sunday and shipping four first half goals in a 5-3 defeat to Inter in midweek are not exactly things to write home about. However, Palermo find themselves in the comfortable middle ground of 10th and with a bevy of beatable teams in the coming weeks, the Sicilians can only hope to improve on their standings by putting together a win starting Sunday at the Stadio Renato Dall’Ara.
Bologna – Unfortunately for Colomba, the much vaunted Ghanaian midfielder Stephen Appiah looks likely to miss out on Sunday’s clash after his arrival in Northern Italy from footballing limbo. Appiah, who had been held in contract hell by his previous employer Fenerbache, trained with the Rossoblu during the week but is unlikely to feature against Palermo. In one change, Colomba looks likely to welcome back Roberto Guana to the fold following the midfielder’s suspension, with Guana likely to replace Giacomo Tedesco in the three-strong centre midfield. Henry Giménez trained fully after shaking off the flu but also looks unlikely to start.
Elsewhere, the Bologna tifosi will be hopeful that Marco Di Vaio can rediscover the form that made him the striker to fear in Serie A last season. Thus far in the 2009/10 campaign, the much travelled former Azzurri forward has bagged just two goals, which is not the best basis for replicating the 24 he managed in the previous season, and he has hardly been helped by his team-mates in the goal stakes.
84 Raggi – 18 Moras – 13 Portanova – 23 Lanna
8 Mingazzini – 26 Mudingayi – 14 Guana
85 Adaílton – 7 Valiani
9 Di Vaio
Walter Zenga has no new problems to face up to as he assembles his staff to make the long trip up the peninsula to Bologna. Fabio Liverani remains on the sidelines after knee surgery but intends to be fit in time for the Sicilian derby with Catania at the end of the month. In addition, Federico Balzaretti remains in the stands, although Georgian youngster Levan Mchedlidze has returned to more strenuous training after a month out with a thigh injury.
Zenga may look to alter his line-up with Antonio Nocerino making way for Nicolás Bertolo on the left-side of midfield but other than that, it looks like the famed Italian shot stopper will keep the core of the side from Sunday’s 0-0 against the Grifone. Zenga will just be hoping that the team can summon the dogged defiance that restored some sense of pride to the 5-3 defeat to Inter, and he may be ruing the fact that they did not take more than a point off of Genoa despite controlling the game.
24 Kjaer – 8 Migliaccio – 5 Bovo
16 Cassani – 23 Bresciano – 30 Fabio Simplicio – 14 Bertolo
7 Cavani – 10 Miccoli
Bologna are not much of a different proposition to last season when they took a long time to ensure another year of Serie A football. Even with the change of Coach, the team does not look hugely well equipped for life beyond the bottom half of the division and will need to start winning games against the like of Palermo, especially if they are going to drop points to teams such as Chievo at home.
Palermo, meanwhile, are not a million miles away from pushing into some serious European qualification places and will go into Sunday’s clash aware that Bologna should be the sort of team that they can turn over with enough effort. Balzaretti’s absence is not being felt as much as was once feared and Zenga seems to have imparted a real sense of confidence in his charges since taking the helm in Sicily.
The teams butted heads at around this time last season in Bologna and it took a fantastically scrappy bundled effort from Davide Succi to cancel out that man Di Vaio and earn the teams a share of the spoils.