Inter v bologna

Bologna v Inter Match Preview, scouting and predictions


The two most in-form Serie A sides collide in this one. Bologna has staked a serious claim on a Champions League berth, while Inter will need to avoid looking ahead too much to the return leg against Atletico Madrid.

  Serie A Week 28– Saturday 7 March  2024 – Stadio Artemio Franchi | Preview by Enrico Passarella



Bologna have gone from a nice story to the biggest threat to the other Champions League hopefuls during their ongoing winning streak. A few of them were banking on them relenting at some point, but the way they reacted to their last cold stretch suggests they are here to stay. The other teams will have to forcefully snatch the spot from them. The one versus Atalanta was a statement win, as they prevailed despite a so-so first half on a mighty difficult pitch and against a direct opponent, proving once and for all that they are not a fluke. At this point, if Serie A gets five teams, it’d be more surprising if they weren’t one of them than the opposite, which would have been a crazy thing to say at the beginning of the season.

The cushion is not yet definitive, but most of their competitors play in the cups, which takes its tool. They have a big opportunity especially in the next couple of rounds. Lazio are likely too far already, but Roma, La Dea, and, Napoli, especially for their status, could still make it. Fiorentina will probably keel over and focus on the Conference League soon. The issue for their rivals is that they have already had their slump, dropping points in four consecutive tilts. However, they bounced back beautifully ripping off six straight wins, including a few impressive ones where they weren’t necessarily favorites going in. They never lost their spirit or identity even in their so-so displays.

Thiago Motta is deservingly getting a lot of the praise, but he’s not the first coach to employ a very bold style and elevate a minnow. The credit needs to be shared with the squad, which is solid from top to bottom, the directors, especially Giovanni Sartori, and the ownership, which wasn’t shy in spending. Their gorgeous playing style is their main engine. Still, it wouldn’t be enough if they didn’t have a host of skilled players, whom the staff has groomed to perfection.

Joshua Zirkzee has always had crystalline class but has never been so impactful. The call to go all-in on him after selling Marko Arnautovic wasn’t so straightforward last summer since he hadn’t shown that much. But they eventually bought it fully, and it worked out wonderfully. He’s particularly apt for them since they have wingers, especially Riccardo Orsolini, who like to cut back and finish. He opens up a lot of lanes with his back-to-the-goal work and can find them with his immaculate playmaking and passing.

They have quality at every level. Stefan Posch hasn’t been as flashy as last season but remains a sound fullback. Victor Kristiansen has arguably outperformed him, as he’s a ball of energy and a decent crosser on the left wing. Riccardo Calafiori, who wasn’t even a center-back when he left Italy to move to Switzerland as Roma gave up on him, has exceeded even the rosiest expectations. He’s flat-out one of the best defenders in the League. Plus, he has the distribution skills of a regista. Building from the back is one of the key ingredients of their secret sauce. That’s one of the reasons why Sam Beukema is still a starter despite not always being on point with his reads and interventions even though they have another rugged man in Jhon Lucumi.

Their midfield took a significant hit when they lost Nicolas Dominguez and Jerdy Schouten at the same time. However, they rebounded beautifully with Remo Freuler, who’s their least sexy contributor but is crucial given how much ground he covers and how many balls he recuperates, and Giovanni Fabbian, who eventually unseated the more work-rate-oriented Michel Aebischer, Nikola Moro, and Oussama El Azzouzi, raising the level of dangerousness of their midfield to insane heights since Lewis Ferguson is a force to be reckoned with too in the final third, on top of being incredibly well-rounded. It’ll be telling if they went with their most aggressive composition here too. The Scot is reportedly not in tip-top shape, and it’d be a blow if he couldn’t go since he’s their rock and barometer.

They even have room for improvement because their new wingers haven’t fully panned out yet. Dan Ndoye is a speed demon but his touch in the box is severely lacking. Jesper Karlsson, on whom they splurged, never hit his stride and was in the coach’s doghouse even before a pair of injuries. Alexis Saelemaekers has been better here than at Milan, but they are more threatening with two more attacking specialists.

They’ll be at a crossroads between being a flash in the pan or potentially becoming the next Atalanta at the end of the season. It’ll hinge on Thiago Motta and their transfer market calls. Their governor has the funds to keep them at a high level, but he’s a North American tycoon, and they always pay close attention to the bottom line. They’ll need to convince their coach to stay, as he’s on an expiring deal, and retain most of their cornerstones to keep the cycle going. It won’t be easy, as their gaffer will be the belle of the ball of the next carousel. One or two sales are natural, and they don’t fully control the future of Zirkzee, but they’d get a giant amount of money to re-invest.

Expected XI (4-3-3): Skorupski; Posch, Beukema, Calafiori, Kristiansen; Fabbian, Freuler, Ferguson; Orsolini, Zirkzee, Saelemaekers. 

Doubts: Calafiori/Lucumi, Fabbian/Aebischer, Saelemaekers/Ndoye. 

Injury Report: Ferguson (fatigue) – Questionable;
Karlsson (ankle sprain), Soumaoro (patellar tendor tear) – Out. 


To quote an ancient viral video from an Italian TV show: “Will Inter limit themselves to winning?” Probably not, but it’s not their fault if their foes can’t keep with them. They have displayed major ferocity and looked increasingly dominant, but they have also been smart with their lineup choices, not necessarily going all-out in each fixture or putting too many miles on their starters. Winning the head-to-head clash with Juventus was the start of the breakaway. Prevailing in the make-up with Atalanta was likely the nail in the title race’s coffin.

Considering their cushion, it’ll be interesting to see how they handle this one. The upcoming return leg with Atletico Madrid is arguably a more meaningful game, but they might also want to make another statement by beating the other most touted team in Serie A.

They have had remarkable health as all their absences have been pretty short, other than Juan Cuadrado, who didn’t give them much to begin with. After he went down, they found more balance without hurting their offense by using Matteo Darmian more than Denzel Dumfries. It might be an indication about the future. The contract of the Dutchman expires in 2025, and he would be sold if he didn’t renew before the summer. Or, they simply prefer relying on a player with a lower ceiling but a much higher floor. You never know what you’ll get from former PSV ace: either a devastating or a completely lackluster performance where’s he very poor defensively.

Simone Inzaghi had to do it due to a pair of injuries and a crowded schedule, but he has smartly given minutes to everybody. It turns out there’s really no slouch in their squad, which is astounding since they don’t have bottomless coffers. Even the much-maligned Marko Arnautovic and Alexis Sanchez, the most dubious part of their squad, came through when they needed them sans Marcus Thuram.

The coach even had the time to experiment with stuff that could be useful transfer-market-wise, for instance, deploying Carlos Augusto as a center-back, which might lessen the need to bring in another man there. They thought they’d snap up Tiago Djaló gratis before Juventus swooped in. It might perhaps hinge on whether Tajon Buchanan proves he’s an asset, and he hasn’t been given the chance yet, as he can feature on either wing. But those are matters for the summer, while they are supremely focused on the tasks at hand.

They won anyway, but the performance against Genoa was the least convincing among their recent ones. The main reason why was Hakan Calhanoglu being out. Kristjan Asllani had a decent display and even scored a pretty goal, but he doesn’t have the same command, vision, and passing prowess as his teammate. Nobody truly does in Italy, and very few abroad as well. The debate about who is more irreplicable between him and Lautaro Martinez is a nice one.

El Toro has been filling his boots and is a threat to the single-season Serie A scoring record, which Ciro Immobile and Gonzalo Higuain set at 36. If they are wise about it, he won’t really go for it, and they’ll preserve his energy for the Champions League if they make it past Atletico Madrid. The best part about his scoring is that it has happened within the construct of their offense and thanks to his increased sharpness and continuity and not because they have been force-feeding him. He’s a sight to behold whenever he gets the ball in the box or just outside of it.

While last year’s deep continental run was a little fluky and helped by the luck of the draw, but that’s not a knock, and it obviously still counts, they have the horses to juggle two competitions better this campaign, so their aspirations feel more legitimate. They’ll have to hope the date with the crème de la crème doesn’t happen too early. They have gotten to the point where not making it at least to the semifinal would be a disappointment, especially having already basically sealed their other primary goal.

Expected XI (3-5-2): Sommer; Bisseck, Acerbi, Bastoni; Dumfries, Barella, Calhanoglu, Mkhitaryan, Augusto; Thuram, Sanchez. 

Doubts: Acerbi/De Vrij, Calhanoglu/Asllani, Sanchez/Lautaro Martinez.  

Injury Report: Calhanoglu, Frattesi (thigh ailments) – Probable.
Cuadrado (Achilles surgery), Sensi (ankle surgery) – Out. 



Draw – Under 2.5 Goals

Enrico Passarella

Contributor for @footitalia1 | Serie A | News, Transfers, Betting |