Preview: Bologna vs. Cagliari

Preview: Bologna vs. Cagliari

After running the Serie A leaders close at the weekend, Bologna turn their attention to the Coppa Italia, as they meet second-tier Cagliari on Thursday evening.

The two sides convene at Stadio Renato Dall’Ara to contest a place in the competition’s last 16, where Lazio already await.

Though stand-in striker Joshua Zirkzee gave the visitors a shock lead at Stadio Maradona on Sunday, Bologna became the latest team beaten by relentless Napoli, as they conceded three times in a 25-minute spell either side of the break.

Following on from last week’s 1-1 draw with winless Sampdoria, the Rossoblu lost points from a leading situation yet again: so far this season, they have effectively squandered a total of 14 after going ahead.

An inability to keep defensive discipline for a full 90 minutes has proved a major problem, as they have conceded the most goals of any Serie A side in the second half of games this term.

Having recently sacked Sinisa Mihajlovic to install Thiago Motta as coach, Bologna have seen little of the ‘new manager bounce’ since the latter’s arrival, and they sit just above the relegation zone as a result.

Motta’s men now return to home soil for a double-header at Dall’Ara, as after their cup commitments in midweek, a crucial clash with fellow strugglers Lecce lies ahead on Sunday.

Bologna have lifted the Coppa Italia only twice before, and not since the 1970s; while their chances of doing so this season are slim, they will not want to crash out in the second round after only scraping past Cosenza in August.

In their first competitive match following demotion back to Serie B, Cagliari prevailed against Perugia in the Coppa’s first round – coming from behind to win 3-2, with two goals in the final 10 minutes.

Since then, though, the Sardinian side have largely laboured in Italy’s second tier, and they occupy eighth place in the standings after nine rounds, having managed only a goal-per-game average.

When Walter Mazzarri’s reign turned sour towards the end of last season, Alessandro Agostini was appointed as caretaker coach but could not steer Cagliari clear of the trapdoor, so former Parma boss Fabio Liverani was then hired in the summer.

Liverani has so far led the Isolani to four league wins, including a 2-1 victory at Unipol Domus on Saturday, when his side overcame Brescia to taste success for the first time in three matches.

Zito Luvumbo scored in the ninth minute, before captain Alessandro Deiola extended the hosts’ lead just after the half-hour mark, and they ultimately held on to secure maximum points after having lost their previous two home games.

Only five points adrift of early leaders Ternana – with their next Serie B fixture scheduled for Monday, against Ascoli – they can now shift focus to the cup, and the prospect of meeting Lazio in Rome will be the prize for Thursday night’s winners.

Bologna Coppa Italia form:
Bologna form (all competitions):
Cagliari Coppa Italia form:
Cagliari form (all competitions):

We say: Bologna 1-0 Cagliari (after extra time)
Neither team have scored freely this term, and it could be a close-run contest at Dall’Ara. The hosts may start favourites against Serie B opposition, but Cagliari’s recent top-flight experience means they can push Bologna all the way.

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