Manchester United Manager Sir Alex Ferguson once referred to it as “squeaky bum time”, and for Chievo Coach Domenico Di Carlo and his counterpart at Bologna, Giuseppe Papadopulo, Sunday afternoon will be exactly that. With the serious threat of an immediate return to Serie B looming over last season’s second tier Champion’s Chievo and runners-up Bologna, a defeat for either team could hasten their fall from the country’s elite league.
It will undoubtedly prove a nervy affair at the Stadio Marc’Antonio Bentegodi with Ceo possessing a dismal record of only three victories at home all season. Yet, the Rossoblu’s equally poor record on the road – also just three wins – could well prove to be Chievo’s saving grace. A draw for Di Carlo’s charges – a result they secured in the sides’ first meeting of the season in January, would ensure their safety for another season with one match still to play. A defeat on the other hand would leave them facing the unenviable task of securing a point under the shadow of the Vesuvius at Napoli’s San Paolo. For Bologna however, the minimum requirement will be to match Torino’s result at home to Genoa, to give themselves any hope going into their final match at home to Catania. Anything less will seal their fate.
Chievo’s creditable 2-2 draw away at Champions League hopefuls Genoa last weekend extended the team’s remarkable record to just three defeats in their last 19 Serie A matches. Stalwart striker Sergio Pellissier’s late header to secure a priceless point will have boosted the confidence of the Flying Donkeys squad. And having already drawn 13 of their 36 top flight matches so far, with seven of those stalemates coming at home, the club’s fans will be more than happy on this occasion to see their team muster a point once more. But with just one point from two games required to save themselves from the drop, Chievo will have to be wary of entering the match over-confident.
Di Carlo will in all likelihood keep faith with the same XI that secured the 2-2 draw at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris last weekend, meaning the experienced Davide Mandelli should retain his place in the defence. The home side will also be looking to the experience of former PSG defender Mario Yepes to marshall a tight rearguard action against the top Serie A goalscorer Marco Di Vaio. Missing from the action with injuries will be defenders Marco Malago and Francesco Scardina, and on-loan midfielders Giuseppe Colucci and Stephen Makinwa respectively.
21 Frey – 2 Mandelli – 33 Yepes – 4 Mantovani
10 Luciano – 16 Rigoni – 7 Marcolini
31 Pellissier – 23 Bogdani
Can Giuseppe Papadopulo’s Rossoblu achieve the unthinkable and avoid demotion in the club’s first season back in the top flight? A victory in this clash is realistically a must. The team certainly cannot afford to rely on Genoa – despite their impressive league position – to travel to Turin and do them a favour by taking points off the Granata. Yet, with only three victories on the road all season, their task is a tough one. A draw could, dependant on other results, see them in with a chance of controlling their own destiny on the final day of the season but Papadopulo will send his team out against Di Carlo’s equally win-shy squad with instructions to attack from the outset. And with Di Vaio in their ranks, they certainly have the man to shoot them to only their fourth victory on their travels.
After all but confirming Lecce’s relegation with a last-gasp 2-1 victory at the Stadio Renato Dall’Ara, Bologna will kick-off the match against Chievo without their goalscoring hero of last Sunday, Sergio Volpi, who will sit out the crunch match after picking up another booking. Expect 28-year-old Davide Marchini to fill in for experienced veteran Volpi, after entering last weekend’s action as an early second-half substitute for Massimo Mutarelli. Elsewhere, Papadopulo should keep faith with the rest of the team which beat Lecce as Bologna go in search of their third victory in their last seven matches.
14 Castellini – 18 Moras – 19 Terzi – 21 Zenoni
2 Marchini – 80 Mutarelli – 8 Mingazzini – 7 Valiani
99 Osvaldo – 9 Di Vaio
Since replacing previous incumbent Sinisa Mihajlovic in mid-April, Bologna Coach Papadopulo has led his new charges to seven points from six matches while Chievo will be looking to end a run of four matches without a victory. With so much riding on the result, both teams should go out seeking the win. If Ceo win or draw, their safety will be secure. For Bologna it is simple – anything less than victory could see them slide through the trap door with a game left to play, depending on the outcome of Torino’s clash with Genoa.
Di Vaio has scored more than half (23) of the Rossoblu’s goals during their troubled campaign and will surely remain in Serie A next season even if his current club do not. The lethal little striker will provide the main cause for optimism amongst the Rossoblu faithful and the main cause for concern in the Chievo ranks. The Flying Donkeys will look to the experience of Yepes, Mandelli and Pellissier to inspire the rest of the team to the point required for survival.