Bologna vs. Siena – Time for heroes in crunch relegation clash

This Sunday will see the Stadio Renato Dall’Ara host a contest between two teams languishing at the wrong end of the Serie A table. With only seven games remaining on the Serie A calendar both of these teams know that they can ill afford anymore slip-ups from now on in. The Rossoblu almost certainly cannot afford to drop anymore points as they now find themselves right in the thick of the relegation scrap and an immediate return to Serie B is looming over the Emilian outfit if they don’t start picking up points on a more consistent basis. The Robur meanwhile will look a more relaxed side when they travel north to Bologna knowing full well that last Sunday’s impressive 2-0 win over an inconsistent Lazio side might well have ensured safety in the top-flight for another year, although they would like a victory here to be absolutely sure of survival.

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At present the Rossoblu’s table position doesn’t make good reading for its tifosi. With only 26 points on the board this season Mihajlovic’s side are sitting uncomfortably in 17th place – just two points clear of Torino and Lecce, and six points clear of Reggina. Last Sunday’s 2-1 defeat at the hands of Roma brought the Rossoblu’s winless streak to three games meaning they have only won twice since the turn of the year and haven’t recorded a single victory since the 3-0 triumph against Sampdoria at home back in Week 27 – a game in which talismanic striker Marco Di Vaio netted a hat-trick bringing his seasonal tally to 19 goals and in the process tying him with Inter’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic for the Capocannoniere crown. But the ex-Juve man has yet to score a goal since then and needs to find his scoring boots as this Bologna side is very much dependent on the bald-headed striker and his goals to keep them up. Without Di Vaio’s 19 goals this Bologna side would without doubt be closer to the foot of the table and most probably destined for a quick return to Serie B. Di Vaio has carried this team on his shoulders for long enough and Mihaljovic has ordered other players to step up to the plate and show they are worthy of playing Serie A football next season. The fact that after Di Vaio no one has scored more than four goals in the entire team shows the importance of the 32-year-old to this goal-starving squad.

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The Serbian Tactician will probably stick with a similar formation he did last weekend against the Giallorossi, opting with the traditionally favoured 4-3-1-2 system. Massimo Marazzina will almost certainly start up-front alongside top-scorer Di Vaio in a partnership that looked particularly strong at the Olimpico last weekend. Marazzina in particular had a good game coming off the bench for the injured Luigi Lavecchia 15 minutes into the game, which turned out to be an inspired substitution for the away side as the ex-Torino man equalised soon after coming on with a glancing header from a Sergio Volpi corner kick. Davide Bombardini will retain his position playing just behind the two forwards in a trequartista role – Gaby Mudingayi will play in a deeper midfield playmaking role, where he will be flanked by Nicola Mingazzini and Christian Amoroso on the wings – both of whom will be looking to exploit the width of the pitch against a narrow looking Siena side that often play through the middle of the park and are usually exposed on the wings.

We all know scoring goals has been a consistent problem for Mihajlovic’s men throughout the year, but when you consider the 49 goals they have conceded is equal to that of celler-dwellers Reggina and one less than Lecce for most goals conceded in the league you find another department struggling to do its job. The fact that the Felsinei backline is reshuffled game to game doesn’t help the defensive unit to find cohesion and chemistry that is so vital for any defence to have at any level of football. Francesco Antoniolli in the Bologna goal will almost definitely be seeing a different set of defenders in front of him again as the Emilian outfit defence looks to be re-shuffled again with Miguel Britos replacing Marcelo Castellini (responsible for the clumsy tackle on Julio Baptista which gave the Romans a second penalty of the afternoon) looking to be the most definite change. Both Vangelis Moras and Cristian Zenoni are likely to be rewarded for their impressive displays in Rome with another first-team start, while the right full-back position is up for grabs and will be given to either Salvatore Lanna or Manuel Belleri.

The Bianconeri meanwhile are practically safe after they beat Lazio on Sunday, leaving Marco Giampaolo’s side is 10 points clear of the relegation places. The Robur have never finished higher than 13th in their Serie A history and this season is looking to be no different either, nonetheless, the Bianconeri often display some breathtaking and scintillating football, especially at home as seen by the fact that they absolutely dominated a Lazio side that still possess enough quality to give any team in Serie A a run for their money. Furthermore, they put Inter and Milan in great difficulty earlier this season only narrowly being defeated 2-1 on both occasions.

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Although not considered a fortress of any sorts the Bianconeri are certainly making the Stadio Artemio Franchi a very difficult place for teams to come too and manufacture a positive result – winning seven of their nine games in Tuscany. Where the problem does lie though is Siena’s lack of scoring, especially on their travels. At the start of each season you will look through the Bianconeri’s roster and ponder where the goals will come from to keep the side up, a centre-forward must be the top priority this summer as the likes of Massimo Maccarone and Abdelkader Ghezzal do not pose enough attacking threat to trouble most Serie A defences.

One major bright spot for the Tuscan outfit is their defence. The quartet of Juan Zuniga, Daniele Portanova, Jardim Brandao and Cristiano Del Grosso have played consistently together all season providing a solid foundation and a defence that has only conceded a respectable 32 goals this season and are surely favourites to start their fourth consecutive game together. Giancarlo Curci is solidifying himself as one of the most talented young Italian shot-stoppers around and at 23-years of age he has already made Siena history by being the first to earn a call-up to the senior national team – replacing the then injured Marco Amelia. With the types of performance he is exhibiting in recent times except Roma to recall him from his loan spell.

There will be no surprises as to what formation Bianconeri Tactician Marco Giampaolo will be using for this encounter, likely sticking to the 4-3-1-2 system he’s used throughout the course of the season. Influential Captain Simone Vergassola will lead the midfield alongside Paul Codrea, Daniele Galloppa and Houssaine Kharja, while ex-Middlesbrough man Massimo Maccarone will partner alongside Algerian Abdelkader Ghezal as the two front men.

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With the title race all but dead and buried, the quest for survival is still very much alive. A repeat 1-1 performance earlier on in the season between these two will not do too much harm for either side with one being practically safe and the other knowing their last fives games come against each of their relegation rivals – Reggina, Torino, Lecce, Chievo and Catania respectively, But with Bologna not being the most free-scoring side in Serie A and Siena struggling to score on their travels you get the sense that both teams will share the spoils this Sunday afternoon.

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