It’s truly been a terrible first half of the season for Bologna. Filippo Inzaghi’s men have won just two out of their 19 games, scoring 15 goals and rarely convincing anyone that they deserve to be part of Serie A next year.
Bologna’s poor displays could be justified with the departure of some of the team’s best players during the summer with Simone Verdi, Federico Di Francesco, Antonio Mirante and Adam Masina all leaving the Stadio Dall’Ara. Despite that, some of the Rossoblu’s showings have been so poor that Inzaghi’s presence at the bench at this point of the season could be labelled as a miracle.
A miracle is exactly what Bologna need in order to avoid relegation, as I Veltri are currently 18th, three points behind Empoli, who occupy the last place above the relegation zone. However, the Azzurri's ability to produce some neat attacking football has resulted in them scoring seven goals more than Bologna and double the Rossoblu’s league victory tally with four.
It was evident that January reinforcements were needed, if the Dall’Ara outfit is about to avoid relegation and if the club failed to find a proper replacement for Verdi in the summer, it really seems that they’ve hit the jackpot mid-season. Christmas is already over, but it could be said that Inzaghi’s biggest present arrived shortly after 2019 started, with both Roberto Soriano and Nicola Sansone arriving on loan from Villarreal.
The double swoop seems to be exactly what Bologna need in terms of technical abilities, as the lack of creativity and quality in the attacking third has arguably been their biggest issue since the start of the campaign. This is hardly a surprise, as Verdi’s tally of 10 goals and as many assists last term means that the ex-Bologna captain was responsible for half of the team’s goals in 2017-18. And while it is highly unlikely that either Soriano or Sansone could match that tally, both of them could fill huge gaps in Inzaghi’s tactical set-up.
Despite failing to earn a regular place in Walter Mazzarri’s starting XI at Torino, Soriano already has two assists for the Granata during the first half of the season - a tally that has not been bettered by anyone at Bologna. Despite Soriano’s shortcomings under Mazzarri, when fit, Soriano has the precious ability to link the midfield and the attack, without unbalancing the team, due to his more than decent physical presence.
This would be extremely important for Inzaghi, as similarly to Mazzarri, the Bologna Coach often fancies physicality over technique, which is one of the main reasons for his team’s lack of creativity. Rodrigo Palacio’s injury problems haven’t helped Super Pippo’s cause either, but at 36 years of age, the Argentinian was never going to feature week in and week out.
Palacio’s health concerns have forced Inzaghi to rotate Federico Santander’s partner upfront with Orji Okwonkwo, Diego Falcinelli, Riccardo Orsolini and Mattia Destro having their chances, but failing to impress. In fact, putting Santander’s tally of five goals aside, from all forwards in Bologna’s rooster, only Orsolini and Palacio have found the back of the net for a total of just three goals.
This further highlights the inability of each of the aforementioned players to constantly perform alongside the outstanding physical presence of the Paraguayan and this is where Sansone could help. The former Sassuolo man combines speed with good dribbling abilities and although he is not the most prolific striker, his ability to attack and exploit spaces could perfectly complement Santander’s physical prowess and aerial ability.
Sansone’s pace could add variety in Bologna’s dull attacking game and probably take some burden off the backline, as on many occasions this term, opponents were not scared to attack in numbers, because of the lack of speed and counter-attacking threat in Bologna’s gameplay.
Just like Soriano, the former Sassuolo man has somehow drifted off the radar of Calcio followers in recent years after moving to Villarreal in 2016. The Italian duo enjoyed a decent 2016-17 campaign at the Estadio de la Ceramica, but their decreasing playing minutes in each of the following seasons have resulted in their return to Serie A.
Although Soriano’s first attempt of reviving his career at Torino did not go as planned, it really looks like that Bologna could be the place where both him and Sansone find their feet again. With an almost certain place in the starting XI, a dire need of technically gifted players and avoiding relegation at stake, the marriage between the Italian duo and I Rossoblu could prove to be the perfect fit for all parties.