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Bologna vs Fiorentina: Preview

The Viola are 110 km south of the Feline on the maps and 2 points south in the table, so this Derby dell’Apennino should have some extra spice.

Torino FC v ACF Fiorentina - Serie A Photo by Jonathan Moscrop/Getty Images

Fresh off a massive point against Juventus last week, Fiorentina turn to another traditional rival for the Derby dell’Apennino, traveling north across the mountains to take on Bologna. In 149 previous meetings (dating back to 1928), the Viola are W57 D49 L43 against the Oscar Meyers, including a run of 13 straight without defeat; the last time the Rossoblù came out with a win was 2013 (woah). The reverse fixture finished scoreless as the Viola failed to register a shot on target and relied on some Bartłomiej Drągowski heroics to keep a clean sheet.

The referee for this one is 33-year-old Federico Dionisi (not the former Livorno and current Ascoli striker) of L’Aquila. In 3 Serie A games this year, he’s issued 14 yellow cards and 1 penalty. This will be just his 5th-ever match in the top flight, so we don’t know a whole lot about him, although he’s generally pretty slow to go to the pocket or point to the spot, which could allow a derby to spiral out of control; he’s never handled Fiorentina, so let’s hope slakas has his notebook at the ready.

The match will be played on Sunday, 2 May 2021, at 2:00 PM GMT/9:00 AM EST the Stadio Renato dall’Arra in Bologna. As of Thursday, the forecast calls for some pretty heavy rain and wind to blow in right in the middle of this one, so the weather could wind up having a larger impact than usual.


Sitting in 12th with 38 points, it’s been another solidly mid-table season for the Felsinei. For the most part, they’ve beaten the teams you’d expect them to beat and lost to the teams you’d expect them to lose to. They’ve only taken 4 points from their past 5 matches (including a 5-0 pasting at Atalanta last time out), but that’s partly down to the quality of opposition they’ve faced and partly because they’re pretty well safe from relegation, which could lead to the Dumutru Effect taking hold.

Manager Siniša Mihajlović has a host of injuries to deal with: CB Takehiro Tomiyasu (leg), LB Aaron Hickey (shoulder), LB Mitchell Dijks (thigh), DM Gary Medel (leg), CM Jerdy Schouten (suspension), CM Nicolás Domínguez (knee), and LW Nicola Sansone (leg). Due to the injuries, he tried out a 3-5-2 last week but should return to the 4-2-3-1 he loves so much. Keep an eye out for old friend Lorenzo de Silvestri, who should start at a fullback spot, but the danger men are AM Roberto Soriano (9 goals, 6 assists), LW Musa Barrow (8 goals, 8 assists), and RW Riccardo Orsolini (5 goals, 3 assists).

Despite having a group of quick, technical, and exciting attackers in Barrow, Orsolini, Emmanuel Vignato, and Andreas Skov Olsen, there’s no real threat at center forward. Barrow fills in there occasionally, but the team relies on retired Padawan Rodrigo Palacio to lead the line most days, and he’s scored just 1 goal. That means that, despite having players who are comfortable in possession, Bologna are at their best on the break, where their wide attackers can win 1-v-1s. There’s no real aerial presence, so most of their opportunities hinge on Soriano picking out runners or on those wingers showcasing their individual skill.


Having beaten Hellas Verona and drawn Juventus, Fiorentina are close to resuming their point-per-game pace with 34 points from 33 matches. That’s good enough for 14th in the table, but just 3 points above Benevento and the final relegation spot with 5 to go. That means that every fixture is of critical importance to avoid the drop, although there are so many bad teams below the Viola that it’d be easy for the to get complacent.

Manager Giuseppe Iachini should have everyone available except Aleksandr Kokorin (lol) and Borja Valero (old). Giacomo Bonaventura should drop straight back into the XI following a suspension, which likely pushes Sofyan Amrabat or Gaetano Castrovilli to the bench. The only real questions are in defense, where Martín Cáceres, Igor, and Lucas Martínez Quarta are battling for a single spot on the left of the back line, although the former two could slot in at wingback as well.

Bologna’s defense has been pretty bad this year: they allow the 3rd-most shots and shots on target per game in the league and have been lucky that GK Łukasz Skorupski has had an outstanding year, although he does always seem to have a howler in him as well. They are at least pretty good at limiting opponents to shooting from distance, which definitely doesn’t favor Fiorentina. They’ve been good a breaking up play in the middle while packing the box, so there should be space down the wings; as ever, Franck Ribery and Gaetano Castrovilli will need to work in the half-spaces for the good guys to create very much.

Possible lineups

Mbaye or Faragò, Palacio or Vignato; Cáceres or Igor, Castrovilli or Amrabat
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How to watch

TV: Yeah, not happening. Check the full international television listings if you want to, but make plans to stream this one.

Online: Here is your list of safe, reliable, and legal streams. If you’re in the US, ESPN+ is showing it; sign up using this link if you don’t have an account yet and Viola Nation will get a little bit of cash. Vox Media has affiliate partnerships. These do not influence editorial content, though Vox Media may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links.

Ted’s Memorial Blind Guess Department

This feels like an extremely winnable game for Fiorentina (cue ominous music). They’re facing a Bologna side with nothing to play for, a host of missing starters, and a coach who’s darkly hinting at departing due to differences with the board. The Viola, on the other hand, have built up some momentum over the past couple of weeks, have everyone healthy, and desperately need three points.

While it’s fair to think that Fiorentina, being Fiorentina, would completely unravel under these circumstances, I think they’ll have just enough wherewithal to do what they’re supposed to and come out of the derby with a win. A 1-2 seems about right, with Dušan Vlahović and Germán Pezzella scoring for the good guys while Musa Barrow increases the tension with a late strike. It’s not just me saying that, either; the betting houses make Fiorentina slight favorites.

Forza Viola!