Sinisa Mihajlovic is coaching Bologna from his hospital bed, assured assistant manager Emilio De Leo. “We have to make the extraordinary become ordinary.”
Their Serie A season opener with Hellas Verona kicks off on Sunday at 19.45 UK time (18.45 GMT), click here for a match preview.
Mihajlovic has been undergoing chemotherapy after his leukaemia diagnosis and it’s not clear when he’ll be able to sit on the bench, but the club and players reiterated many times that he remains the Coach.
He has been watching training sessions via live streaming and giving team talks on the phone.
“Initially, we told ourselves that we have to make the extraordinary become ordinary during this season. It won’t be easy, but we are working on it,” said De Leo in his Press conference.
“It’s now a Serie A match, but the protocol is no different to what we’ve been doing since the news. We feel more responsibility now, but are trying to each focus on our tasks and objectives.
“Mihajlovic is ever-present, he follows every game and training session. He insists on the importance of the right attitude and approach to the game, he cares a great deal about that, which was visible in our Coppa Italia victory over Pisa. We are a responsible group and want to make our Coach proud.”
Hellas Verona are newly-promoted from Serie B via the play-offs, but changed Coach to bring in ex-Genoa boss Ivan Juric.
“We studied them and are aware of their strengths and weaknesses. Juric has a very precise identity with his teams, they play with 3-4-1-2 or 3-4-2-1 systems.
“We’ve got a few options for the attack and they all have their characteristics. Rodrigo Palacio is mobile and difficult to mark, Mattia Destro is a complete player and Federico Santander is always impactful.
“Blerim Dzemaili has recovered and the only player certainly out this weekend is Jerdy Schouten, who needs a few more training sessions. We’ll evaluate everyone in the morning. The versatility to change system and shape during a game is something we should not underestimate.”
Bologna squad for Verona: Skorupski; Da Costa, Sarr; Bani, Corbo, Denswil, Dijks, Krejci, Danilo, Mbaye, Tomiyasu; Dzemaili, Kingsley, Poli, Schouten, Soriano, Svanberg; Destro, Orsolini, Palacio, Sansone, Santander, Skov Olsen
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