MARK O’HAIRE (@MarkOHaire) runs the rule over Monday night’s Serie A match-up between Bologna and Verona.
Bologna v Hellas Verona | Monday 19.45 | BT Sport Europe
Having taken just six points from a possible 30 following promotion back into the top-flight, Bologna parted ways with head coach Delio Rossi. The Rossoblu were just a point off the bottom of the table and floundering.
Club officials moved quick to appoint ex-Italy national team boss Roberto Donadoni, giving the three-times Champions League winner just one mission – survival.
Donadoni’s first initiative was to channel Al Pacino’s “Inches” speech from the movie Any Given Sunday, to keep Bologna’s season alive and the players inspired. And it worked a treat.
The Rossoblu routed Atalanta 3-0 and Verona 2-0 in Donadoni’s first two fixtures and the man who kept coaxing out gritty performances from a Parma side that hadn’t been paid in months last season, lead Bologna into the top-half by the end of January thanks to a W8-D2-L4 return from 14 fixtures.
From saving their skin, thoughts in the Greyhounds’ camp soon turned to a potential push for European qualification. However, Bologna’s performance levels have been slipping.
For the first time since October, the Emilia-Romagna outfit have fallen to back-to-back league defeats, scoring just three goals in eight outings since February. And to make matters even more concerning, top goalscorer and main attacking threat Mattia Destro is crocked.
The Rossoblu have tumbled back down the standings to 14th having W1-D4-L3 since February and although Donadoni’s men are still eight points above the drop zone, the club are well aware they’ve yet to secure their survival status.
The Greyhounds are understandably odds-on favourites to see off basement boys Verona on Monday night but Bologna haven’t been at their best when entertaining Serie A opposition at their Stadio Renato Dall’Ara base this season.
Only four of the Rossoblu’s 10 league successes have been achieved at home and more recently, Bologna’s form as hosts reads W1-D4-L2 as they’ve fired blanks in each of their last three encounters, all of which ended goalless.
Verona head to Bologna nine points from survival with eight matches to play; Hellas have churned out just two league wins all season and it’s hard to imagine Serie A’s last-placed team saving themselves now after recent defeats to relegation rivals Udinese, Sampdoria and Carpi.
But for all the negativity surrounding the Gialloblu, they’ve not often been embarrassed and 13 of their 30 fixtures have finished all square. On their travels, Verona are winless but again, they’ve picked up points in exactly half of their 14 road trips, including 1-1 draws at Roma and Fiorentina recently.
There’s a suggestion Hellas may have thrown the towel in but after eight days off to stew over their disappointing 2-1 defeat to Carpi, head coach Luigi Delneri believes he’s a squad ready to give the great escape one last push, starting on Monday.
Delneri’s been working on a 4-2-3-1 system in recent weeks with Luca Toni operating as a lone frontman so the likelihood of the Gialloblu frustrating a shot-shy Bologna side missing their star man in attack isn’t beyond the realms of realism.
So I’m happy to dismiss Bologna here as there’s no major urge to get involved at any of the pre-match prices in the Match Odds or Asian Handicap markets. Instead, I’m keen to go low on goals and in particular, a half-time stalemate.
Bet365 have quoted a 0-0 half-time correct score at 13/8 and that’s an appealing price when you consider 14/20 (70%) of Bologna’s battles since Donadoni arrived have been level at the break, 13 of which were goalless. At the Renato Dall’Ara, 5/10 (50%) have followed suit including each of the most recent three.
Since Donadoni pitched up in Bologna, 13/20 (65%) of the Rossoblu’s games have fallen below the 2.5 goals line with eight matches featuring fewer than two goals. More recently, 10 of the hosts’ 13 Serie A encounters produced profit from Under 2.5 Goals selections with seven failing to overcome the 1.5 goals hurdle.
Verona’s half-time stats aren’t quite so strong but it’s worth noting that Delneri’s also tightened Hellas up since arriving at the club; 9/16 (56%) of the Gialloblu’s league encounters have produced fewer than three goals, including 5/7 (71%) games as guests despite travelling to Juventus, Roma, Fiorentina, Lazio, Torino, Udinese and Milan in that sample.
With the aforementioned trends in our favour, I’ll also have a wager on Under 2.5 Goals at the best-priced 3/4 that’s on offer at BetVictor.
Bologna v Hellas Verona – 0-0 half-time correct score (13/8 Bet365)
Bologna v Hellas Verona – Under 2.5 Goals (3/4 BetVictor)
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