Serie A 2011-2012 Preview: Bologna, Aiming Higher After Relegation Battle

After finishing 17th and only six points above the drop-zone last season, Bologna will be aiming to move higher up the table in this upcoming campaign. Over the past few years the Rossoblu have gone through countless sets of owners, and stability has always been a huge concern. Towards the end of last season they were relying on a few individuals to carry the team. There were huge gaps, especially in midfield, and some players had no backup. Alberto Malesani's squad was not deep enough to realistically go any further. Serious investment was necessary in the off-season to really sustain a push up the table.  

Now journeyman manager Pierpaolo Bisoli was brought in. He looks likely to play a 4-3-2-1 that at times can be punished down the wings, but other than that it's an attacking side.

Key Players:

Marco Di Vaio is by far Bologna's biggest player and goal scorer, ending last season with 19 in 38 appearances. Many clubs around Italy have tried to draw him away from the Renato Dall'Ara, but he has always refused, insisting he is happy in Bologna. Di Vaio normally plays alone up top, so it's to his credit he manages so many goals. As long as he's around the Rossoblu have a chance.

Gaston Ramirez plays in the two just behind club captain Di Vaio, and provides the fulcrum that gets the ball from midfield and into the main man upfront. Ramirez has also been linked with a move to a bigger club, but unlike Di Vaio he has been considering it. The Captain has told him through the media: ‘please stay, we've have a lot of enthusiasm'. It remains to be seen whether Bologna can hold on to such a talent.

Summer Signings:

In:

Roberto Acquafresca has been brought in on loan from Genoa, who just love sending out the forward. Last season he scored 8 goals with Cagliari, having earned himself a starting role after Alessandro Matri left for Juventus. Acquafresca is a player still seeking the right fit, and the Rossoblu are hopeful he'll finally fulfill the potential he's meant to have.

Bologna just love bringing in players from relegated sides. Alessandro Diamanti is in after a co-ownership deal with Brescia was agreed. The attacking midfielder will play alongside Ramirez, assuming, of course, that Ramirez sticks around. Jean François Gillet, who spent 11 years with Bari replaces Emiliano Viviano. He deserves to be in Serie A and arguably at an even bigger club then Bologna, so they did very well to get him in.

Mikael Antonsson and Josè Angel Crespo have both been brought in to shore up the defence, from Copenhagen and Padova respectively.   

Out:

The biggest loss so far is the previously mentioned Viviano to 2009/10 Champions Inter. Julio Cesar is the number one goalkeeper there, but backup is needed. Unless he is loaned out I feel like that's a bad move for Viviano more than Bologna. Gillet has been brought in to replace him, and he is a very solid keeper.

Miguel Britos left for Napoli, who are intent on doubling their squad size before Champions League play begins. Britos is a quality defender who will certainly be missed. 

Potential Breakout Star

I personally think Ramirez will be the main man in the midfield and he could really prosper and live up to the potential he has always had. He's playing alongside Diamanti and behind Di Vaio meaning he won't be replied on to consistently score. While Ramirez is still very young, he scares defences all over Italy with his pace. Watch out for the young Uruguayan.

What to expect

For the size of the club, they have had a great transfer window so far, although there are still three weeks to go. Holding on to all their key players and perhaps making a few reinforcements in midfield and they could make a huge leap up the table. With the players brought in expect them to attack more than last season (not that this is saying much) but remain solid at the back. Injuries to key players could be an issue as they don't have a huge squad.

Prediction

I want to say middle of the table because I like the team and their mentality, but taking into consideration potential injuries I'm going to say fifteenth. There are much worse teams in Serie A and I have no doubt that they will not be relegated, but they might be part of a relegation battle.

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