Both beaten on the opening day, Bologna and Hellas Verona aim to get off the mark in Serie A this season, as they meet at Stadio Renato Dall’Ara on Sunday.
While the hosts threw away a goal and a man advantage to lose against Lazio, their visitors were thumped 5-2 by rampant Napoli on home soil.
Given their past record in season openers outside of the Dall’Ara, it was perhaps no surprise that Bologna began with a defeat last weekend, as they lost 2-1 in Rome.
On the last seven occasions when starting a Serie A season away from home the Rossoblu have now lost six times, but it was tale of what might have been for them at Stadio Olimpico.
Leading by a goal, with Lazio down to 10 men following their goalkeeper’s dismissal after six minutes, Bologna contrived to miss out on even a point, as Adama Soumaoro got himself sent off in first-half stoppage time before they conceded twice after the break.
That setback piles on the frustration for Lazio legend and current Rossoblu boss Sinisa Mihajlovic, who in recent weeks has seen Aaron Hickey being followed out of the Dall’Ara door by Mattias Svanberg and Belgian defender Arthur Theate, though attacking talisman Marko Arnautovic remains in Emilia-Romagna for now.
Bologna’s starting lineup for their first league fixture had the oldest average age across Serie A (29 years, 280 days), and a side which also lost their final two friendlies – but progressed past Cosenza in the Coppa Italia – could surely use some fresh blood before the transfer window slides shut.
Having finished 13th last term, undermined by inconsistency, Mihajlovic will have his hands full to avoid mid-table mediocrity again this year.
While Hellas Verona have won only 11 of their previous 46 Serie A matches against Bologna, the clubs’ last meeting resulted in a 2-1 home win for the Gialloblu in January.
However, they have not recorded successive top-flight victories against this week’s hosts since 1978, and prepare for their Sunday evening encounter on the back of a morale-crushing defeat on the opening day.
After a season of upheaval last term, it was all change again at Verona this summer, with Gabriele Cioffi being drafted in to replace Igor Tudor, who had inspired some spectacular displays since his appointment early in the 2021-22 campaign.
The Croatian coach’s move to Marseille left the Scaligeri in the lurch, and Cioffi’s debut in the dugout was to be an embarrassing 4-1 defeat in the Coppa Italia, at home to Serie B side Bari.
Despite taking the lead at Napoli in their league opener on Monday, Verona went on to lose 5-2 to their loathed southern rivals, and consecutive three-goal defeats have certainly left a sour taste among the club’s fans.
Hellas have now conceded 17 goals in their last eight Serie A matches, at an average of over two per game, and have not kept a clean sheet in the league since the start of April; boding ill for their trip to Bologna.
Though Adama Soumaoro must sit out Sunday’s game through suspension, Bologna signed a potential replacement this week, as left-sided centre-back Jhon Lucumi joined from Genk. However, as the Colombian’s clearance has not been agreed on time, Kevin Bonifazi should start.
Summer signing Lewis Ferguson still awaits his debut due to a ban which follows him from former club Aberdeen, and while Sinisa Mihajlovic has no major injury concerns, Riccardo Orsolini was benched for being late to a pre-match meeting last week and Mitchell Dijks remains out in the cold while seeking a new club.
Since April, star striker Marko Arnautovic has scored six of Bologna’s 13 Serie A goals – only Lautaro Martinez and Ciro Immobile (seven each) have scored more in the top flight during that period.
Meanwhile, Verona’s Thomas Henry has found the net in his last three league games following his strike on Monday, with one coming against Bologna for Venezia in May.
The French forward leads the line for the visitors up front, supported by Kevin Lasagna, who also scored in their opening game.
While Federico Ceccherini remains a doubt due to injury, Gabriele Cioffi has an almost full squad at his disposal, and is unlikely to make too many changes despite Verona’s capitulation against Napoli.
Bologna possible starting lineup:
Skorupski; Lykogiannis, Medel, Bonifazi; De Silvestri, Dominguez, Schouten, Soriano, Cambiaso; Sansone; Arnautovic
Hellas Verona possible starting lineup:
Montipo; Dawidowicz, Gunter, Coppola; Faraoni, Tameze, Ilic, Lazovic; Barak; Lasagna, Henry