Preview: Genoa vs. Bologna

Seeking to seal a third-placed Serie A finish, Bologna head to Luigi Ferraris on Friday evening to face mid-table Genoa in their closing fixture of the campaign.

Thiago Motta’s men were pegged back in an enthralling 3-3 stalemate with Juventus last time out, whereas Genoa’s trip to Roma on Sunday ended in a 1-0 defeat.

Match preview

Even with 10 men on the pitch as Leandro Paredes was given his marching orders, Roma still managed to strike first against Genoa in Sunday’s penultimate Serie A action, where Romelu Lukaku’s header proved to be the match-winning contribution for the Giallorossi.

Few of the Genoa persuasion should be losing sleep over that slender loss to the Europa League semi-finalists, though, as Il Grifone are comfortably entrenched in the mid-table placements – unable to rise any higher than 11th – and only have personal honour on the line on Friday evening.

One point clear of Monza – who could therefore demote Genoa to 12th spot in the final round of fixtures – Alberto Gilardino’s side are already making their preparations for a second consecutive campaign in the big time, while also bracing themselves for summer transfer offers.

Danish midfielder Morten Frendrup and Icelandic attacker Albert Gudmundsson should both be the subject of serious interest from top-level European teams after playing key roles in Genoa’s successful first stint back in the big time, in which Gilardino’s men have only been beaten five times on their own turf.

Having sunk Cagliari and Sassuolo in their last two at Luigi Ferraris, Il Grifone can now triumph in three straight Serie A home matches for the first time all season long, but one of five Champions League-bound Calcio clubs stands in their way of such a feat.

Before an expected appointment to the Juventus hotseat as a permanent successor for the hot-headed Massimiliano Allegri – sacked on the back of his Coppa Italia meltdown – the revered Motta was on track to oversee a straightforward beating of the cup winners on Monday evening, only for his side to fall victim to a captivating comeback.

Two goals from highly sought-after defender Riccardo Calafiori either side of a Santiago Castro header put the Rossoblu firmly in the driver’s seat, but in the final 15 minutes of the tie, Federico Chiesa, Arkadiusz Milik and Kenan Yildiz completed an astounding fightback for the men in black and white.

Consequently, Friday’s third-placed visitors are only leading Juventus on goal difference and could therefore be knocked off the final podium place over the next few days, but their ticket to the Champions League is already assured; whether Motta will be overseeing their European journey is another matter entirely, though.

Should Motta indeed by seduced by Juventus’ pull, the former Paris Saint-Germain midfielder can at least endeavour to close out a historic campaign by stretching Bologna’s unbeaten Serie A streak to 10 matches, and only runaway champions Inter Milan (nine) have shipped fewer goals than the Rossoblu’s 18 on the road all season long.

Four of Bologna’s last five on rival turf have seen the third-placed outfit keep clean sheets, but they were held to a 1-1 stalemate by Genoa in January’s showdown and only have one triumph to show from their last nine contests with Il Grifone, although that was in their most recent trip to Luigi Ferraris in May 2022.

Team News

Losing no players to injury or suspension in their loss to Roma, Genoa’s squad is at full health for Friday’s contest, where Junior Messias is expected to at least earn some minutes off the bench after battling back from a muscular concern.

Fourteen-goal striker Gudmundsson was only a second-half substitute in the penultimate game too, but the Juventus and Tottenham Hotspur-linked attacker should come back into the reckoning here, most likely in place of Caleb Ekuban.

Speaking of strikers tipped to make the step-up to a Champions League-competing club this summer, Bologna hotshot Joshua Zirkzee could not contribute to the Juventus stalemate on account of his hamstring injury, which is also expected to deny him an appearance on the final day.

Zirkzee has apparently not given up hope of being present on Friday, but reports have claimed that the Arsenal and Manchester United-linked Dutchman is a long shot, so Castro should act as Motta’s number nine instead.

Scottish midfielder Lewis Ferguson is also absent with the ACL injury that cruelly denied him the chance to play at Euro 2024, so the Rossoblu should be boasting a near-identical squad to the one that blew a three-goal lead versus the Bianconeri.

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