Bologna vs. Juventus: The Bianconeri aim to widen the gap

Italy Soccer Serie A
AP Photo/Paolo Giovannini

Bologna will become the latest side to try to stop Juventus when they welcome the Turin giants to the Stadio Renato Dall’Ara on Friday.

After a terrible start that saw them sitting in the relegation zone, in arrived Roberto Donadoni, and as the saying goes, the rest is history. With eight wins out of their last 15 matches, the Rossoblu have clawed their way out of the bottom three into a solid tenth place, and given how congested things are in the middle of the table, a win against the Bianconeri could see them find themselves – albeit temporarily – in as high as seventh place until the other sides play later this weekend.

By contrast, this same congestion means that any of the mid-table teams could find themselves tumbling down the table with a loss, and as such, Bologna will be hoping that their opponents will already be thinking of their titanic Champions League match against Bayern Munich next week. Fortunately for Donadoni, he has pretty much a full-strength squad available for selection, with only Luca Rossettini on the treatment table, and first-choice goalkeeper Antonio Mirante,who missed out on the game versus Udinese due to injury, should resume his position between the sticks for this match.

Meanwhile, Juventus completed their amazing comeback when they downed Napoli 1-0 to finally claim top spot in Serie A for the first time all season. With 15 straight wins, it appears that the sky is the limit for Massimiliano Allegri’s men, who are seeking a fifth straight Scudetto title. It was not too long ago that some writers were already ruling the Bianconeri out of the title race, and they surely must be eating a nice serving of crow as it’s not over until La Vecchia Signora sings.

However, the upcoming game versus die Roten, coupled with some injuries to key players, will have Allegri concerns. Giorgio Chiellini was unable to feature against Napoli but some reports claim that he could be available for the Bayern Munich match, and anyone who has watched Juventus over the past few seasons will know the Italian international’s importance to his side. Other absentees include striker Mario Mandzukic, who has struggled for form and fitness all season and his absence leaves the team without another attacking option up front; however, he like Chiellini could play some role in their Champions League game next week. Ghanaian international Kwadwo Asamoah, however, is still out indefinitely due to another unfortunate injury, with no new news as to when he could be expected back on the pitch.

Thankfully, Leonardo Bonucci – who departed the game against the Partenopei – has shaken off a knock to be back in action, and Mario Lemina, who has been out since their October loss to Sassuolo has finally made his long-awaited return from injury. Sami Khedira, however, will remain in Turin as his coach would like to keep him fresh for the Bayern game, but Juan Cuadrado appears to have recovered from his own fitness problems to be included in the traveling party for Friday’s match.

With Allegri likely rotating his squad and Bologna’s improved form of late, the Rossoblu will be hoping to become the first team since Sassuolo back on October 28th to steal a point from the Bianconeri. However, although it took them till very late in the game to down Napoli, Juventus have shown that time and time again, they can grind out a win, and Donadoni will want to be wary of a side that have scored at least two goals in their past eight away matches, have kept a clean sheets in their last six games, and have beaten them in their last five meetings across all competitions.

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Michelle Bonsu

Freelance football journalist based in New York. Primarily support AC Milan as well as the Ghanaian and Italian NT’s, but you’ll find me watching the Bundesliga and Premier League as well–enjoy a good game, regardless of where it’s being played. Zlatan Ibrahimovic is one of my favourite players.