Bologna v Sampdoria – Stadio Renato Dall’Ara at 12:30 GMT+1

Bologna boss Sinisa Mihajlovic was back on the bench for last weekend’s contest at all-conquering Juventus. The Rossoblu head coach was diagnosed with leukaemia in July, and has spent all of pre-season, plus most of the campaign thus far in hospital undergoing two courses of chemotherapy.

Assistant coach Riccardo Orsolini explained how the club have installed extras cameras at the training ground to allow Mihajlovic to watch the team’s sessions live from his hospital bed, giving corrections in real time, with the Serbian even intervening to “give us a good telling off on Skype” when it’s required. 

Ever since revealing his diagnosis to the world at a tearful press conference last month, Mihajlovic has been adamant that he would return. And the Bologna supremo has been keen to continue the stupendous work he started with the Emilia-Romagna outfit last season, pushing the Rossoblu into mid-table.

Bologna were beaten in Turin last weekend, although neutral observers will have been impressed by the effort, application and attitude of Mihajlovic’s men. Federico Santander hit the bar and Gigi Buffon made a sensational late save to deny Il Veltri a share of the spoils in another promising performance.

Bologna backed for top honours

After a fifth of the 2019/29 campaign, Bologna find themselves in the bottom-half of Serie A and only three points above the drop-zone following an inconsistent W2-D3-L3 return. However, there have been clear signs that the Rossoblu are moving in the right direction with a strong underlying process.

Remarkably, Bologna feature in the top three in terms of Expected Goals (xG) and xG from open play ratio after eight matchdays of action. Only Juventus, Atalanta and Lazio are generating more open play opportunities and Mihajlovic’s troops are also amongst the league leaders for fewest chances conceded.

That’s all despite facing Juve, Lazio and Roma already, as well as facing five of their opening eight games on the road. A return to the club’s Stadio Renato Dall’Ara home on Sunday morning should stand Il Veltri in good shape and odds of 1.95 on the hosts overcoming a -0.50 Asian Handicap appeal.

Samp to fall short

In 12 outings here under Mihajlovic’s watch, Bologna have bagged W8-D2-L2 with Roma and Juventus the only teams to depart with maximum points. The Rossoblu have scored at least twice in eight of those encounters and should relish the contest against rock-bottom Sampdoria this weekend.

Sampdoria jettisoned Eusebio di Francesco after six defeats in seven to bring in veteran Claudio Ranieri. The 68-year-old celebrated his birthday with a goalless game against his home town club Roma last week and should make the guests difficult to beat. But ultimately, Samp’s rotten road record is hard to ignore.

The Blucerchiati have been beaten in 12/23 (52%) away days since the start of last season and offered precious little against injury-hit Roma seven days ago. Ranieri switched to a 4-3-1-2 system in his opener and will be looking for further improvement if Sampdoria are to avoid defeat in Emilia-Romagna here.

Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation:  Bologna -0.50 at 1.950

Preview by: @MarkOHaire.

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