Serie A Previews: Can Bologna's Youngsters Replicate Last Season's Achievements?

BOLOGNA ITALY - JANUARY 23: Players of Bologna celebrates with Marco Di Vaio captain of Bologna after scored a goasl during the Serie A match between Bologna and Lazio at Stadio Renato Dall'Ara on January 23 2011 in Bologna Italy. (Photo by Roberto Serra/Getty Images)

Our Bologna preview comes from new contributor Shaun Best, an England-based Lazio supporter who has previously contributed at worldfootballcolumns.com. You can find him on Twitter at Shaun_Best.

Bologna achieved their highest Serie A finish in a decade, but can they repeat that feat without prolific striker and team captain Marco Di Vaio?

Last Season

Coach Stefano Pioli took over the club while they were propping up the table with a solitary point. Using a trusted 3-4-2-1 formation, he guided the Rossoblu to an impressive 9th position.

Who's Gone

Marco Di Vaio - The Stoat has left Serie A behind to finish his playing days in the MLS. Having already made an immediate impact at Montreal, the Rossoblu will miss Di Vaio's predatory instincts in front of goal.

Gaby Mudingayi - The Belgian international midfielder has waved bye bye to the Dall'Ara outfit for now, having joined Inter on a season-long loan deal.

Who's In

Manolo Gabbiadini - A regular at Under-21 level, the Atalanta striker is widely expected to join Juventus in a co-ownership deal, who will then loan him to Bologna for the season. Gabbiadini has already started training with the Rossblu and earned his first full national cap in the recent friendly defeat to England.

Marco Motta - Another loanee, and another helping hand arrives from Juventus, this time in central defence. Despite being out of favour with the Bianconeri, Motta has a wealth of Serie A experience at Atalanta, Udinese, Torino and Roma. He spent the latter part of last season on loan at Catania.

Marti Riverola - A graduate of the Barcelona youth system, Riverola started out with the Catalans when he was just six-years-old. A three year stint with the B team was interrupted by a short loan spell at Vitesse Arnhem. Riverola made one substitute appearance for the main Barcelona side in last year's Champions League. He has agreed a four year contract with Bologna and has been converted from a natural forward into a solid midfielder. Bologna have a real gem on their hands.

Keep An Eye On

Alessandro Diamanti - Cesare Prandelli is an admirer of the attacking midfielder, tipped to become the national side's new trequarista. Bologna beat Brescia in a blind auction to buy the remaining 50% of Diamanti's contract and he has committed to the Rossoblu for five years. Diamanti rippled the net on seven occasions last season, with spectacular long range efforts against both Lazio and Cagliari. A real crowd pleaser, his signing will give the fans encouragement as the club begin life after Di Vaio.

Gaston Ramirez - The Uruguayan put himself on the map with several impressive showings at the Olympics, including a peach of a free-kick against the UAE. Speculated moves to Liverpool and Southampton have thus far failed to materialise, with Ramirez's agent expecting his client to stay at Bologna.

Predicted Finish

Mid Table

Coach Pioli has replaced experience with youth. While the club has retained the majority of last season's squad, it will be hard to replicate the feats from the last campaign. Quite simply, it's difficult to see where the goals will come from. During his four years at the club, Di Vaio contributed 65 goals in 143 games. It remains to be seen whether Robert Acquafresca and Henry Gimenez can replicate those figures. However, with a familiar back line in front of Federico Agliardi, the rest of the squad looks to have enough quality to ensure that the club doesn't get sucked into a relegation battle.

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