Sampdoria are back in form again, collecting seven points in its last three matches. From a squad being disjointed and scared, the Blucerchiati’s players are now in roles that suit them and they are playing with more cohesion and confidence.
I doriani still do not have a full squad to choose from but Ciro Ferrara’s switch from a 4-3-3 to a 4-5-1 formation has helped his young team return to form. Midfielders like Nenad Krsticic and Andrea Poli are playing positions that bring the best out of them and defender Shkodran Mustafi and striker Mauro Icardi have been welcome additions since becoming starters in the first team.
When I Doriani lined-up in a 4-3-3 formation, Maxi Lopez would head the attack with Marcelo Estigarribia on his right and either Eder, Krsticic or Roberto Soriano as false wingers. Injuries, suspensions and a form slump, which included seven losses on the trot, prompted a system change.
Ferrara used the 4-5-1 against Palermo in the 2-0 loss in Sicily but it was in the Genoa derby where things took shape. Sampdoria started with five central midfielders! Gianni Munari, usually a box-to-box midfielder, played as a right midfielder. Enzo Maresca, Pedro Obiang and Krsticic played centrally and Andrea Poli, usually a regista, started at left midfield but was given the room to move into an attacking midfielder’s role.
Since the Genoa derby, they have formed Ferrara’s preferred midfield. Munari covers the right side and protects Mustafi when the full-back overlaps, Obiang breaks opposition attacks, Maresca dictates the play, Krsticic makes runs into spaces in attack and Poli has become an unlikely goal threat. When Fernando Tissone plays instead of Munari, Krsticic moves to the right. Tissone has played in a central midfield role, showing more confidence than what he had in Sampdoria’s previous Serie A stint.
Icardi has made an impact in attack since he started in the derby, scoring a goal and provoking two own goals. Losing Maxi Lopez, Eder and Nicola Pozzi to injury has robbed Ferrara of his main attackers but the 19-year old from Argentina benefitted from their absence.
A quality centre-forward in the making, Icardi has demonstrated mobility and dribbling skills, he is an aerial threat and he can link-up well with his teammates. He will be a loss for Il Doria when he has to play for Argentina next month’s South American Youth Championship.
Changing to the 4-5-1 has improved the midfield and attack but there has also been a solid addition defence. Albanian-German defender Mustafi has defended well and been useful going forward from the right full-back position. His sending-off against Fiorentina for a ferocious tackle was a blip in what has been a good start to his Serie A career. He has forced Gaetano Berardi to play centrally and Lorenzo De Silvestri can’t get a game now thanks to Mustafi’s form.
Sampdoria was in crisis mode before the Genoa derby. Thanks to some changes on Ferrara’s part, this young side is climbing up the Serie A ladder again. The emerging coach has his job intact for now
and Serie A fans will start to see the rise of more young stars, this time from the blucerchiato half of Genoa.