Sampdoria Club Focus: The Road Ahead for the Blucerchiati
It is a common belief among Serie A fans and pundits that 40 points is the target clubs should aim for if they want to avoid relegation. Only 10 matches remain for the Genovese side until the season ends in the middle of May. Currently Doria tied for tenth place with 35 points and their goal difference is superior to the other five teams stuck on the same points tally.
Sampdoria can seal their safety soon, but there are still plenty of matches that could impact on the final outcome of the Serie A table. With an additional game in hand, the Blucerchiati could use it to their advantage if they can get a result against Inter.
Sunday night would have been a great time to capitalise on any fatigue Inter had suffered from their Europa League match against Tottenham Hotspur. Unfortunately, the match was postponed due to heavy rain and the likelihood of flooding around the Marassi.
If the match went ahead, this would have been a great chance for Argentine prodigy Mauro Icardi to show his worth against Inter. Stories of his departure are still flying around and the striker might have put on a show against the club who could be his future employers.
On Easter Saturday, the Serie A will resume after an international break and the Blucerchiati will travel to Bergamo to face Atalanta. As pointed out in the previous Sampdoria Club Focus, one of the key battles will be how Daniele Gastaldello will deal with German Denis, the Atalanta centre-forward.
Denis played well against former employers Napoli at the weekend and he could prove to be a menace, especially in the air. Gastaldello has the height and physical strength to take “El Tanque” out of the game.
Atalanta seem to be using more veterans in the second half of the season. Doria could expose their lack of pace with Lorenzo De Silvestri and Marcelo Estigarribia going down the wings and implementing the pressing tactic which usually works in their home matches.
After that, a likely win against Palermo is on the cards. Beating the Sicilians will send them closer to Serie B. It would be revenge for a 2-1 defeat in the same fixture in 2011, which mathematically got Samp relegated.
Round 32 is when the Derby della Lanterna is on. Genoa had improved since re-hiring Davide Ballardini, but they have started to drop points recently. Doria will want to make it two wins from two in this season’s derbies and also push their rivals into the relegation battle.
Andrea Poli and Icardi scored their first goals for the Blucerchiati in the 3-1 win in November and if the Grifoni continue to struggle, both players could show that their heroics in the first derby were not a fluke.
Sampdoria face Bologna after the derby. That fixture might have little significance if both teams can assure themselves of mid-table safety. Even if both clubs have secured their place for next season, it could be an interesting offensive battle between Poli and Icardi against Bologna’s playmaker Alessandro Diamanti and striker Alberto Gilardino.
Fiorentina, Udinese and Catania are next and the Blucerchiati can dent all of their European goals. The Viola is in contention for a Champions League spot and Catania and even Udinese could qualify for the Europa League. The Friulani have slim chances of qualifying, but the others could reach their goals unless Sampdoria get wins off them.
A trip to Rome will be Doria’s last away match for the 2012-13 season, playing against Lazio in the penultimate round. Delio Rossi will face one of his old clubs, at the venue of his only cup success: the 2009 Coppa Italia Final in which Lazio beat Samp on penalties.
Victory is a possibility for the Doriani, especially if Lazio do well in Europe. The three points might even be within reach against Juventus, particularly if they too have a good run in Europe and the Scudetto is in the bag.
Neutrals would hope that this is like the 3-3 draw at the end of the 2007-08 season, a match in which the Blucerchiati came back twice from a deficit.
Sampdoria have a chance to ensure another season in the Serie A. Simultaneously the Genovese team can get revenge on those responsible for their relegation in 2011 and even play a part in deciding next season’s European spots.
The 40-point target is very achievable yet Samp’s season does not necessarily end there.