Bologna vs Milan: Serie A Preview, Potential Lineups & Prediction

The 2023/24 Serie A season comes with high expectations for new-look Milan, who head to the Stadio Renato Dall’Ara to encounter Bologna in their curtain-raising fixture. The second opening-weekend encounter between these sides falls on Monday and will serve to drop the curtain on matchday one. 

Bologna secured a ninth-place finish in Serie A last season, only their second top-half placing since 2015/16. Manager Thiago Motta outperformed the club chiefs’ relatively humble ambitions. But it wasn’t an overachievement by any stretch of the imagination. 

Rossoblu missed out on European qualification for the 33rd year on the trot. Indeed, you’d need to go back to 1990 for the last time Bologna got direct entry to a major European competition through their league placing. Following an inspiring 2022/23 campaign, that could be their target this term.

However, they’ll have to make it without Marko Arnautovic. The Austrian striker ended his two-year association with Bologna to join Inter on the eve of the new season. But keeping hold of quicksilver forward Riccardo Orsolini can put smiles on the home side’s fans. So can the arrival of Dan Ndoye from Basel.

Speaking of the incoming market, visiting Milan have stolen the headlines in Italy this summer. Despite losing star midfielder Sandro Tonali to Newcastle United, Stefano Pioli’s men look far more competitive than last season. As many as eight new signings are responsible for the club’s lofty appetites. 

Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Tijjani Reijnders, and Yunus Musah have come in to bolster Pioli’s midfield options. Samuel Chukwueze, Noah Okafor, and Christian Pulisic are the new attackers. Though it could take some time for the newcomers to gel, Milan head into the new campaign seeking a second Scudetto in three years. 

Nothing less will do for I Rossoneri after one of the most comprehensive squad overhauls in the club’s recent history. As mentioned in our Milan season preview, a top-four finish is the bare minimum expected from Pioli’s refreshed team. But they should be relevant in the Scudetto conversations.

Match Preview


Bologna opened the 2023/24 season with a comfortable 2-0 home win over lower-league Cesena in the Coppa Italia round one this past weekend. Motta’s men picked up where they left off last season. The hosts strung together five consecutive league games toward the end of 2022/23 (W2, D3).

However, their last four home matches in Serie A have ended level. Given Bologna’s long-term struggle in this fixture, Motta would probably take another draw if offered before the kick-off. Before sharing the spoils in a 1-1 stalemate in this corresponding match-up last term, I Rossoblu had lost three consecutive home H2Hs. 

Player to Watch: Riccardo Orsolini

With Arnautovic no longer in the picture, Orsolini will hug the spotlight. The left-footed winger excelled last season, tallying 11 goals and four assists in 32 Serie A appearances.


Milan ended last season in style, toppling Hellas Verona 3-1 at San Siro to cement a third consecutive top-four finish. That triumph forms part of their three-match winning league streak, which contradicts their pre-season form. Numerous arrivals and departures curtailed the team’s momentum during the off-season preparations. 

Pioli’s side lost all three high-profile friendlies during their United States tour. A penalty shoot-out win over Monza in the Silvio Berlusconi Trophy earlier this month may have settled the nerves. But it wasn’t enough. But Milan can draw confidence from their phenomenal league starts in recent years. They’ve commenced the last three Serie A seasons with a win.

Player to Watch: Rafael Leao

With all due respect to the raft of new signings, Rafael Leao remains Pioli’s most threatening asset. He has been Milan’s driving force in the last two years and should remain the focal point of their attack after taking the coveted No10. 

Team News

Up-and-coming defender Adama Soumaoro is the only absentee in the Bologna camp. But €9m acquisition Sam Beukema should fill the void after impressing on his debut against Cesena.

As for Milan, Ismael Bennacer is out with a long-term knee injury. Loftus-Cheek and Reijnders should profit from his absence, with the duo expected to start in the midfield. 

Bologna vs Milan Potential Lineups

Bologna (4-2-3-1): Lukasz Skorupski; Stefan Posch, Sam Beukema, Kevin Bonifazi, Jhon Lukumi; Nicolas Dominguez, Michel Aebischer; Riccardo Orsolini, Lewis Ferguson, Dan Ndoye; Joshua Zirkzee.

Milan (4-3-3): Mike Maignan; Pierre Kalulu, Fikayo Tomori, Malick Thiaw, Theo Hernandez; Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Rade Krunic, Tijjani Reijnders; Christian Pulisic, Olivier Giroud, Rafael Leao.

Bologna vs Milan Prediction

Despite changing numerous players in the summer, we expect Milan to get off to a flying start and put several goals past Motta’s disciplined backline. It won’t be a walk in the park, but the visitors should take home all three points. 

Prediction: Milan Win

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