Preview: Bologna vs. Empoli

Preview: Bologna vs. Empoli

Starting a new era, having made a bold change in the dugout, Bologna welcome Empoli to Stadio Renato Dall’Ara on Saturday afternoon.

Having earned their first victory of the Serie A season last weekend, just days after Sinisa Mihajlovic’s departure, the hosts will target three more points against winless opponents.

Having made the difficult decision to part ways with their long-serving manager so early in the season, Bologna went in search of their first league win of the 2022-23 campaign against Fiorentina last Sunday, but seemed set to miss out once more when they fell behind early in the second half.

A quickfire response from forward pair Musa Barrow and Marko Arnautovic – the former becoming the first Rossoblu player other than Arnautovic to score this term – soon turned the game on its head, and caretaker coach Luca Vigiani steered the hosts to an overdue success.

By then, it was already an open secret that former Spezia boss Thiago Motta would take over from Sinisa Mihajlovic, who departed Dall’Ara for a second time last week.

The ex-Italy international cites Carlo Ancelotti, Jose Mourinho and Gian Piero Gasperini as major influences on his coaching style, and his first chance to implement change comes this weekend, against struggling opponents.

Occupying 12th place in the table approaching Serie A’s seventh round, Bologna have only been beaten by Milan and Lazio so far, and having lost just one of eight home games against Empoli in the past, precedent is certainly on Motta’s side.

A switch in the dugout has yet to pay dividends for Empoli, in their second season back among the Italian elite, as Paolo Zanetti still awaits his first victory after seven competitive games.

For the only time since the 2003-04 campaign – when they were ultimately relegated – the Tuscan club have failed to win any of their first six matches in a Serie A season, and continuing an awful calendar year to date, they have won just one of their last 14 away fixtures before heading to Emilia-Romagna this weekend.

They did, though, put up a brave fight against Roma on Monday night, and were able to haul themselves level before the break after going a goal down early on. However, opening scorer Paulo Dybala later laid on Tammy Abraham’s close-range winner for the visitors at Stadio Carlo Castellani.

That denied the Azzurri a fifth straight draw, and the cause of their malaise remains acutely apparent – they have scored only five times so far in Serie A.

Sitting in the bottom six, and having already exited the Coppa Italia, Zanetti’s return to the club he once represented as a player has been underwhelming to this point. If he is to avoid being fired for the second time in a matter of months, then, Empoli must find a first win before long.

Bologna Serie A form:
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Empoli Serie A form:
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We say: Bologna 1-1 Empoli
After securing maximum points for the first time and installing fresh management, Bologna should have the edge over an ailing Empoli side – however, they are notoriously leaky at the back and their visitors remain competitive despite a winless start. Therefore, a score draw could be on the cards at Dall’Ara.

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