Bologna v Juventus
Club News, Match Preview Serie A, Serie A

Bologna v Juventus Match Preview and Scouting

December 17, 2021 - 3:47 pm

The usual issues reared their ugly heads in a fixture where the opponents did not stand down like in the previous ones. It would obviously be ideal, but the defense can not be asked to keep a clean sheet every time. There were some justifications, but the attack needs to be better, and there does not appear to be a readymade fix.

Bringing in a better no.9 would surely help, but that is not the only problem. There is a glaring lack of collective play on offense, and the players too often have to take it upon themselves to create anything. The scoring opportunities mostly come from set-pieces or when two of them, more by chance than by design, combine successfully.

The center of gravity of the team is so low that the attackers already have a lot of ground to cover and a few opponents to get by before arriving to the box. It is further proof that it is not just a matter of scheme, because the latest one has been fine. But pace and mentality make a big difference, and that mostly has to come from the coach, which instead is stuck in his ancient ways.

Juventus were arguably lucky to even come away with a point against Venezia, which is ghastly. The squad completely lost the plot once Paulo Dybala subbed off and the Lagunari started challenging them. Given the extra focus on the passive phase, it is stunning to see how shaky the Bianconeri become when the adversaries raise the intensity and take it to them. The confidence and command evaporate quickly in the face of adversities. That is why any sign of hope or positive streak always seems fickle and just a product of favorable circumstances.

The injury problems continue, as Dybala will miss this one. It is a major blow because he is the one that makes things move up front even when he is having an off-day. The squad looked directionless when he bowed out last week. Dejan Kulusevski is available but not 100 percent, and so he will not be the guy to replace La Joya, although that would be his proper role. Weston McKennie is back and is even rumored to be in the running to start supplanting Mattia De Sciglio, with Juan Cuadrado heading back to the defense.

Hopefully, the coach will simply insert another pure striker, either Moise Kean or Kaio Jorge, rather than opt for a more crowded midfield. Giorgio Chiellini is unlikely to be available due to minor problems. Manuel Locatelli and Alex Sandro are slightly in the doubt, the former due to an illness, but they might soldier through it. A midfield without the former would be a scary proposition. Luca Pellegrini is the frontrunner to play at right-back.

Expected Lineup

Juventus (4-4-2): Szczesny; De Sciglio, De Ligt, Bonucci, Pellegrini; Cuadrado, Locatelli, Rabiot, Bernardeschi; Kean, Morata.

Injuries: Dybala (muscle fatigue), Chiesa, Danilo (thigh strains), Ramsey (thigh injury).

 

 

 

Thanks to a pair of key additions and a tactical switch, Bologna have been significantly better than in the past campaign. Yet, they are not the most consistent side, and sometimes they have underwhelming matches where they struggle to create up front and look shoddy in the back. They have taken a step in the right direction and are no longer relegation strugglers, but they are not real contenders for a European berth either.

They had been lacking a true no.9 for years, and they addressed that by bringing in Marko Arnautovic, who has been fairly strong, also a leader. They lost some unpredictability while no longer having a mobile forward, and the output of Roberto Soriano has taken a huge hit, but the Austrian international has been a complete positive. However, their most valuable acquisition was arguably Arthur Theate, who has been nearly spotless in the back and permitted the schematic change that lifted them.

They opened the season with the same 4-2-3-1 they had been using last season. Since they were giving up too many goals, Sinisa Mihajlovic switched to a three-man defense. The Belgian newcomer has been vital in giving them stability and muscularity in the back. While not totally reliable, Adama Soumaoro has been a little better in this design, which has also completely revitalized Gary Medel as the anchor of the defense. Despite his size, he is a bulldog and guards tenaciously even significantly bigger strikers. Still, lapses continue to plague them, but having more manpower helps. Goalie Lukas Skorupski is rather feast-or-famine too.

The coach had to renounce a winger with this tactic, so Riccardo Orsolini and Andreas Skov Olsen have been relegated to bench roles. It is unfortunate for them, but the offense has not noticeably been hurt by their absence. On the contrary, Musa Barrow has benefitted greatly, both from playing more centrally and also to having a physical guy next to him. He still has plenty of freedom and is always capable of busting out terrific plays and shots on his day. Instead, the scoring opportunities have dried up for Soriano, with Arnautovic now as the primary recipient of those. However, he is still a master of sneaky cuts and a very cunning player overall, so he makes his presence felt in other areas too.

They basically have not had their best midfielder Jerdy Schouten for the entire season due to thigh problems, but Nicolas Dominguez and Mattias Svanberg have grown exponentially in the passive phase, and so they have not really paid the price for it. The latter is also a weapon on offense, especially with attempts from distance. The Argentinian international is seemingly ubiquitous with his energy and stamina.

Wingbacks have a pretty large role, and they have two good ones. Aaron Hickey has massively rounded out his game compared to his first year in Italy and has become an excellent contributor in both ends. Lorenzo De Silvestri is less flashy but very solid overall and also effective when it comes to finishing, either with headers on set pieces or when actions develop on the other flank.

They can measure up with most sides when they are feeling it. One of their best assets is that they are never truly out of a contest because they have multiple players capable of creating something out of the blue. However, they remain aggressively up-and-down, which is more mental than anything. They will be eager to bounce back after the losses against Fiorentina and Torino, where the scores were close, but they were thoroughly outplayed. There has not been an evident difference between their outings at home and on the road. It will be apparent in the first few minutes whether they are on one of their good or bad days. But they can still produce dangerous late-game surges even in the second case.

Expected Lineup

Bologna (3-4-2-1): Skorupski; Soumaoro, Medel, Theate; De Silvestri, Dominguez, Svanberg, Hickey; Soriano, Barrow; Arnautovic.

Injuries: Schouten, Mbaye (thigh injuries), Kingsley (fibula fracture).

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