Sampdoria Club Focus: Poli-ng the strings once more
Sampdoria this season have been a team made up of no stars but one that focuses very much on team ethic and the importance of the unit.
However, over the past few weeks it is becoming clear that one man is standing head and shoulders above his teammates and that man is Andrea Poli.
For a time it seemed that the standout performer could be Maxi Lopez after he scored three goals in quick succession early in the campaign but a knee injury against Atalanta has forced him onto the treatment table.
While he was making his way out of the side through injury though, Poli was making his way back in and it is perhaps no coincidence that the side’s performances and results have had an upturn since his return.
Against both Inter and Atalanta he could not do enough while still making his comeback to stop defeat but did manage to slot well into the midfield alongside Enzo Maresca and looked increasingly dangerous.
Then, in the Derby della Lanterna it all came good for the former Inter man and he showed why he was the man who has labelled with the oft-overused ‘new Andrea Pirlo’ tag.
He was peerless against Genoa and none of the Grifoni midfielders came close to him throughout the game and it was the kind of performance that would shock you upon learning his age.
For Poli is still only 23, and only turned that age in September, and still has all of his best years ahead of him and if he keeps up this consistent level of performance then those years could be played out in Turin.
He is co-owned by Juventus who have allowed him to remain at the Marassi for this season but you need only look at their midfield at the moment and think there may just be a place for Poli in the black and white.
There has been criticism that the Juventus midfield is not rotated enough given that they are competing in multiple competitions this season with players like Paul Pogba only making fleeting appearances.
A Pogba/Poli partnership in a few years for the league champions would certainly be fearsome but I digress because at the moment, he is still very much a Doria player and the fans will be extremely thankful for that.
At the weekend against Bologna he once more was at his best and again stood out on an afternoon that much of his teammates disappointed.
When you consider that they were playing a Rossoblu side who were reduced to 10 men after just five minutes, they really should have created much more than they did.
Two of the best chances that Ciro Ferrara’s men were created came from crosses from Andrea Costa and Daniele Gastaldello that ended up troubling the goalkeeper.
Of course that was until Poli once more had his say after he had troubled the 10 men of Bologna throughout the game.
He went close in the first half with a low drilled effort that was well saved by Federico Agliardi showing that he is a clear goalscoring threat in and around the area and in the end he proved to be the difference between a disappointing draw and a crucial win.
While he may not have been at his best in creating chances, like the rest of the squad, the goal was nonetheless all down to his willingness to win the ball and make something happen.
Alberto Gilardino was quick to win the ball back on the edge of his own area but the reactions and determination of Poli were excellent who instantly stole the ball back from the former Parma man and played a delightful one-two before bursting into the penalty area to take the return pass and slot the ball coolly past the goalkeeper.
It was a moment that once more showed his class and ability to come to the fore when his team are in the most need.
No other Sampdoria player looked like they were going to change the game and turn one point into three but the individual skill of Poli to win the ball back and get himself into an intelligent position to turn the game.
In a team made up of few big names or stars but of a crop of players who will give everything, he is becoming the real standout performer and the jewel in Sampdoria’s crown.