Ballardini is no stranger to struggling sides. Last season he guided Genoa safely out of relegation trouble. Now he must do the same with Bologna, who come into the weekend a solitary point and just one place above the drop zone.
Stefano Pioli was given his marching orders on Tuesday in the aftermath of Monday's 2-0 defeat at Catania. The Rossoblu clearly struggled without the services of Alessandro Diamanti, as they suffered a ninth defeat of the season. Ballardini faces a baptism of fire in his first game in charge, taking on the side he managed for seven months between 2009-10.
Bologna can draw parallels with Lazio, who also made a coaching change over the festive break. Edy Reja begun his second stint in charge of the Biancocelesti with a 1-0 victory over Inter Milan on Monday evening, thanks to Miroslav Klose's fifth goal of the season. However, the 68-year-old has demanded more from his side after not being satisfied with the team's performance. Lazio are still looking for a first away win of the season, having picked up just four draws away from the Stadio Olimpico all season.
Reja addressed the travel sickness plaguing the side during his pre-match press conference.
"I told the boys that we have to change gear, we won some matches on the road when I was here last, we struck fear into all of the other teams.
"We have to rediscover that conviction, I hope it can happen at Bologna."
Bologna are boosted by the return of Diamanti from suspension. The playmaker currently has four goals for the season along with Panagiotis Kone. However, Andrea Mantovani and Francesco Della Rocca sit out bans, while Frederik Sorensen remains on the treatment table. Nicolo Cherubin and Diego Perez have recovered from injury and are both named in the squad.
Abdoulay Konko was stretchered off during the Inter victory and isn't ready to return. With Federico Marchetti still injured, Etrit Berisha will continue to deputise between the Lazio sticks. Stefan Radu is suspended, so the visitors will need to reshuffle defensively.
This fixture finished 0-0 last season. Prior to that, both teams have claimed three victories apiece in meetings at the Dall'Ara. Bologna will still have memories of the 6-0 drubbing Lazio handed out in Rome back in May.
Bologna injuries and suspensions
Out: Frederik Sorensen (injured) Andrea Mantovani, Francesco Della Rocca (suspended)
Lazio injuries and suspensions
Bologna: (4-3-3) Curci; Garics, Natali, Antonsson, Morleo; Kone, Perez, Laxalt; Diamanti, Cristaldo, Acquafresca
Lazio: (4-5-1) Berisha; Cavanda, Andre Dias, Biava, Lulic; Hernanes, Ledesma, Onazi, Gonzalez, Candreva; Klose
Match Date/Time: Saturday 11th January 2014, 7:45 p.m. local, 1:45 p.m. ET
Venue: Stadio Renato Dall'Ara, Bologna, Italy
TV: Sky Sport 1 HD Italia, Sky Calcio 1, Sky Supercalcio HD (Italy) beIN Sport Play, RAI Internazionale (U.S) BT Sport 2 (UK)