2016-17 preview

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After weathering the storm last season, Bologna hope to thrive under Roberto Donadoni, writes Michelle Bonsu.

Bologna can now build

At one point during the 2015-2016 season, Bologna were sitting in the drop zone. In fact, the Rossoblu found themselves dead last in the standings, and fan morale was in the gutter. Not much was expected when Roberto Donadoni was appointed following Delio Rossi’s sacking in late October, but at the end of it all, Bologna had pulled off a great escape to salvage a 14th-place finish and a spot in the top flight for the second consecutive term.

And now they get to do it all over again. This time, however, the aim is not just survival, but rather to thrive. Naturally, it will be easier said than done, but the club have made a couple of promising young signings – including one that shone at this summer’s Euro tournament. Key for the Rossoblu, of course, will be how they start this upcoming campaign, and first up for them will be a clash with Serie A debutants Crotone.

The drama surrounding Amadou Diawara has also been an unwelcome distraction for the team and the fans, who will be hoping that his future is sorted out quickly. Meanwhile, the Rossoblu only won two out of five pre-season friendlies, and having lost their past two consecutive matches, will hope that this insipid form does not translate into what’s to come when it counts.

In short, Bologna supporters can be divided into two camps. The more realistic and practical fans will be hoping the team can manage to stay afloat for yet another campaign, whilst the most idealistic ones will be dreaming of ending 2016-2017 term inside the top 10.

Coach - Roberto Donadoni

Wildly successful as a player with Milan during the 80’s and 90’s, Donadoni took over Bologna when the Rossoblu were drowning. After successfully righting the ship and guiding them through some turbulent times, the former midfielder will be looking for a better start – and finish – this year.

Star player – Mattia Destro

The 25-year-old centre-forward can deliver the goods, but remains woefully inconsistent. If a second consecutive term at the Dall’Ara and work with Donadoni pays off, the former Roma and Milan striker might finally live up to the initial hype. He got eight goals last season and was a Euro 2016 contender until breaking his toe in March.

Best buy - Adam Nagy

Midfielder Nagy was linked with moves to Southampton, Leicester City, Marseille, and Benfica thanks to his impressive performances with Hungarian champions Ferencvaros and the national side at Euro 2016. The Rossoblu, despite not even finishing in the top 10, managed to beat them all to his signature. A solid presence, he’s not one for goals.

Azzurri prospect - Federico Di Francesco

With Emanuele Giaccherini off to Napoli, Bologna have lost their link to the Azzurri. One potential interesting prospect for the future could be Di Francesco, son of Sassuolo boss Eusebio. Having spent time at five clubs in just four seasons, he will be keen on establishing some roots – and himself – after receiving a call-up to the Under-21 side in March.

One who got away - Ramadan Sobhi

Bologna were linked with the promising Egyptian international at various points during this summer transfer market. And no wonder – Sobhi, despite being still a teenager, played a vital role in Al Ahly clinching the Egyptian Premier League title in the past two seasons. However, the 19-year-old has chosen England’s Stoke City as his first club outside his homeland.

Probable line-up

Mirante; Rossetini, Gastaldello, Maietta, Masina; NAGY, Diawara, Taider; DI FRANCESCO, Destro, Mounier

Prediction - Lower mid-table