Pavignani, Malesani and Di Vaio battle on to rebuild Bologna

The snow, threatening Sunday’s game at the Stadio Renato Dall’Ara, provided an apt metaphor for Bologna. As recently as December the club was in dire financial straits. Wages had gone unpaid for almost six months and bankruptcy loomed, the sixth most successful club in Italian football history was on its knees. Having been through Presidents at a rate of more than one per season since 2005, the Rossoblu were pulled back from the brink by a consortium led by Massimo Zanetti and Giovanni Consorte, only for Zanetti to resign as President within a month of taking over.
With Marco Pavignani now in charge, the club are slowly finding their feet again financially but are still paying the price for the irresponsibility of previous regimes. In December Bologna were deducted a point as punishment for wages going unpaid earlier that year and two further points were deducted on the 13th January for the same reason.
On the pitch however, the Rossoblu have found themselves in a much less precarious position. They currently sit five points clear of the relegation zone in 14th and boast a game in hand on every side below them. Had they not been docked three points, they would have broken into the top half of the table by now.
A major reason for the strong league position has been the form of captain and talismanic striker Marco Di Vaio. The veteran has scored goals wherever he has played, and his time at Bologna has been no different. So far this season he leads the club scoring charts with 13 goals in 21 starts, a tally that makes up more than half of the 23 goals Bologna have scored in the league so far. Di Vaio has proved a real leader on the pitch, helping to keep the side united in spite of the off-field problems off. The memorable comeback he inspired against Roma, at the Stadio Olimpico earlier in the season, demonstrates perfectly his importance to the team and the spirit with which he leads them.
Among the Bologna squad, the names Gaston Ramirez, Miguel Britos and Diego Perez stand out as key players. In his first season in Serie A, 20-year-old Ramirez has attracted high praise, contributing a goal and two assists in his nine starts. Britos has been virtually ever present this season and, alongside Daniele Portanova and Matteo Rubin, has proved more than a match for many a forward. Perez, a stand-out performer for Uruguay at the World Cup last summer, has carried his form into the season and remains a menacing figure in the centre of the park, as his eight bookings would suggest.
Coach Alberto Malesani must also take a great deal of credit for his side’s excellent league performances. He has turned the Stadio Dall’Ara into a fortress where his side have only been beaten once all season, a 0-3 reverse to league leaders Milan, and has inspired his side to a number of impressive results.
So while the game against Roma may not have made it to half time thanks to the snow, Bologna are already past the half-way mark of the season and, despite the finances being stacked against them, they appear on course to survive another year in the top flight.

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