With Juventus, Roma, Milan and Napoli all failing to pick up three points, it was an opening weekend that hinted at a competitive season to come in Serie A. While Udinese’s shock victory away to Juve was the standout result, the likes of Fiorentina, Sassuolo and Sampdoria were all also impressive as they got their respective campaigns off to the perfect start.
The same cannot be said for Bologna who, in truth, shocked no-one by succumbing to a 2-1 defeat away at Lazio. It was a tough start for the side who won the Serie B play-offs back in June, but there was enough about Delio Rossi’s outfit to suggest that survival is well within their reach this term.
New signing Mattia Destro began the game on the Rossoblu bench, the Italy international enjoying only 14 minutes of action after replacing Robert Acquafresca late on. Destro will be handed more game-time as the season progresses, with the capture of the 24-year-old this summer representing something of a coup for Bologna.
It is a big campaign for Destro, who surprised many by pitching up in Emilia-Romagna after a summer of being linked with the likes of Arsenal, Liverpool and Milan, the club he spent the second half of last season at on loan from Roma. The striker’s goalscoring record in Serie A is generally good but, after spending much of his three seasons with the Giallorossi as a substitute, Destro must now seize his chance to make an impression as his new team’s main man.
Having been part of Inter’s academy as a youngster, Destro made his professional bow for Genoa in 2010 after being included as a makeweight in the deal that took Andrea Ranocchia in the opposite direction.
A goal on his debut hinted at big things to come, but the youngster struggled to nail down a place in the starting XI and was subsequently loaned to Serie A new boys Siena the following campaign. Finding the net 12 times helped the Bianconeri avoid the drop and earned Destro a move to Roma for an initial fee of £8m.
His time in the capital was a frustrating one: despite a decent scoring record – 29 strikes in all competitions in 68 appearances, only 42 of which came from the beginning of matches – Destro was mostly a back-up to Roma legend Francesco Totti.
It was at times puzzling that Rudi Garcia did not turn to him more often, particularly when Roma were crying out for a plan B during some particularly rough patches of form, but ultimately Destro did not do enough to convince his manager that he deserved a more regular slot in the team. His five-month spell at Milan in 2014-15 was slightly underwhelming, although that description would be applicable to the entire club last term.
Destro must therefore make good on his undoubted potential at Bologna this time around. A traditional No. 9 – despite being handed the No. 10 jersey by the Rossoblu – who comes alive in the penalty area but does not offer much outside it, Destro will be judged almost exclusively on his goalscoring return.
A lack of involvement in the build-up play could work to his advantage for Bologna, a side who will spend many games camped back in their own half, restricted to the counter-attack and needing a cool and clinical figure to convert their chances up top. Should Destro put the ball between the sticks on enough occasions, he will prove to be worth far more than the £5.95m that Bologna paid Roma for his services last week.
With the European Championship coming up in France and fellow Italian frontmen Ciro Immobile and Mario Balotelli enduring a difficult last 12 months, Destro could even force himself back into the international picture.
It is not quite make or break time yet, but a good campaign at Bologna would do wonders for Destro’s career.
About the Author – Greg Lea
Freelance football writer. Work published by FourFourTwo, The Guardian, World Soccer, Goal, The National, Squawka, Eurosport, The Blizzard + others.