AC Milan will look to continue their point streak on Saturday against an up-and-down Bologna side. The Rossoblù are a typical mid-table team, capable of pulling an upset on any given match day, but a club of Milan’s caliber should be able to handle this match with ease.
Of course, the Rossoneri are in fine form, winning four of their last six, while their last loss took place before the season was suspended. Bologna have not won in their last three matches, but they have managed two hard-fought draws to Parma and Napoli, while losing to the red-hot Sassuolo. The Bolognese club tends to play close matches, similar to Milan’s most recent opponent, and has drawn the fourth-most times in Serie A play this season.
Usually running a 4-2-3-1, Bologna’s defense should be the club’s calling card, but its backline has been lackluster, allowing 52 goals in 33 matches. Despite having a decent crop of defenders (like Mattia Boni, Danilo and Takehiro Tomiyasu), the side has failed to shut out an opponent since 25 August against Genoa.
To Bologna’s credit, their two defensive midfielders, usually Andrea Poli and Gary Medel, have done their job of forcing opponents’ attacks to the wings. Bologna has the third-lowest rate in Serie A of shots against from the middle of the pitch (60%), which, in theory, should lead to fewer goals against. Using the pair of CDMs disrupts the middle of the pitch, meaning that Milan will need to focus its offense out wide. However, centre back Boni is expected to be out with an injury for this match, which could leave the Bologna backline vulnerable. Expected goals statistics suggest that Milan’s opponent has been unlucky defensively this season, as their xGA mark of 44.2 is well below their actual 52 goals allowed.
Offensively, Bologna is very average, though recently 21-year-old Musa Barrow has become a saving grace. The young Gambian, on loan from Atalanta, has scored 5 in his last 6 and has shown real flashes playing for both his club and country. Barrow lines up on the left wing and brings skill, pace and goalscoring ability to a club that utilizes an otherwise outdated and somewhat boring attack.
Barrow will be complimented on the right wing by Riccardo Orsolini, another young player who has scored 8 and assisted 5 times in his 33 appearances for the club. Another key offensive player is attacking midfielder Roberto Soriano, who provides a steady veteran presence.The CAM has been in good form of late, registering a goal and an assist in his last two matches.
Despite Bologna’s decent amount of talent, this is the sort of match that AC Milan must win late in the season. It will be a close, hard-fought affair, but in the end the Rossoneri’s defense should prove to be too strong for Bologna’s inconsistent attack. It is the beginning of the end to the season, and Milan must take advantage of their remaining mid-table opponents to finish as strongly as possible.