Thiago Motta: The New Special One at Bologna?

It’s been 7 months since the “painful decision” that Bologna F.C President Joey Saputo had to make when he sacked the late legendary Sinisa Mihajlovic after five winless games to start the season. On September 12, 2022 Bologna appointed Thiago Motta as their new head coach. Having signed many young and exciting players in the summer, Motta starts his reign finding his side sitting 16th in the table with no wins.

Motta previously managed at Paris Saint Germain’s U-19s, where he used the 2-7-2 formation and was mocked for it. But it’s considered a very offensive tactic where he aspires for total control and movement, with and without the ball.

Post Paris, he left to join Genoa but the stint didn’t last long and he was sacked after just two months at the club, recording five losses and three draws. He was famously known for wanting to bring the 2-7-2 formation to Genoa, and he described how it is supposed to work:

“My idea is to play offensively. A short (compact) team that controls the game, high pressure and a lot of movement with and without the ball. I want the player that has the ball to always have three or four solutions and two teammates close by to help. The difficulty in football is, often to do things simply but to control the base, pass and get free. I don’t like the numbers of the field because they trick you. You can be super offensive with a 5-3-2 and defensive in a 4-3-3. The goalkeeper counts as one of the midfield seven. For me, the attacker is the first defender and the goalkeeper is the first attacker. The goalkeeper starts the play, with his feet and the attackers are the first to put pressure to recover the ball.”

Spezia was the next stop for the Italian-Brazilian manager. In his first season, he managed to guide an average Spezia side to safety. He won 10 times, drew six and recorded 22 defeats. He played fluid football with a mix of excellent young prodigies and experienced players. Motta was sacked on Jun 28, 2022 after his first season at Spezia.

Bologna was knocking on the door for Thiago Motta after sacking Sinisa Mihajlovic. He started his journey at the Renato Dall’Ara in front of the Bologna supporters. Despite controlling and having an average possession of 61%, Motta suffered defeat in his first game against Empoli. He used the 4-2-3-1 formation (as expected) fielding rather experienced players such as Soriano, Arnautovic, Medal and De Silvestri. Bologna went on to lose to the likes of Juventus and Napoli and drew against the relegation threatening Sampdoria.

He recorded his first win in the league in charge of Bologna after four winless games against Lecce, and that’s when Bologna began to climb. Nine wins, five losses and two draws in 16 games was a positive step for Thiago Motta’s men recorded wins against Italian giants Inter and the well-respected Fiorentina. Motta was awarded Serie A Manager of the Month for Bologna’s great results during February.

On the radar for top European clubs, Stefan Posch at the back has been the star for Thiago Motta’s team, as he’s been rated as the highest by all of his teammates. One of Manchester United’s transfer targets last summer, Marko Arnautovic, is the main man up top with nine goals. Italian prodigy Riccardo Orsolini and former Aberdeen Attacking Midfielder Lewis Ferguson have been crucial to Motta’s team. Building from the back and attacking has been key characteristics of Bologna, but defensively they are struggling out of possession. Bologna have the seventh highest possession rate with 52.9% in Serie A as well as a collective pass success rate of 81.1%. Upon Motta’s arrival, Bologna have improved to ninth in the Serie A table with 36 points.

This has just been the start for Thiago Motta and he will be looking to climb the table looking for a European spot. His team has been playing a style of football that get positive results and is entertaining, and that is what the Bologna faithful want.




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