Sampdoria crumbled at the Mapei Stadium on Sunday night and allowed Domenico Berardi and Sassuolo to run riot in a 4-1 win for the Neroverdi.
Despite not playing all that bad for the opening half hour, Berardi’s opener prompted the floodgates to not only open but to fall down for 20 minutes, with the hosts then going on to score four times in 18 minutes of play that stretched either side of half time.
— ForzaItalianFootball (@SerieAFFC) September 1, 2019
A defensive shambles
Neither Jeison Murillo nor Omar Colley would fill many top-half Serie A sides with confidence, so a squad that has them both as their best two central defenders is always going to be up against it.
Colley was exposed on a number of occasions in the 2018/19 season and it wouldn’t have been a surprise to see him move on, but now accompanied by the Colombian, there’s even more pressure on him to take a responsible and level-headed role.
So far though, there’s little evidence to suggest he’s capable of doing so.
Murillo, meanwhile, is as headless as ever. He needlessly lunged into a challenge on Francesco Caputo that he was never going to win beyond the halfway line that left Samp exposed and resulted in the first goal and, from that moment on, they fell apart.
Even when they stopped conceding, they looked vulnerable and eventually had Alex Ferrari slot in as a third centre back to help them solidify.
Work needs to be done of course, and Di Francesco addressed that in his post-match press conference, but you get the impression that signings are the only way for Samp to improve defensively.
Di Francesco isn’t the issue
It’s normal enough for the man in the dugout to take most of the heat when a team is underperforming as Sampdoria are, but anyone would struggle in these circumstances.
On the face of it, a transition from Marco Giampaolo’s style to Di Francesco’s isn’t the most dramatic, but there are issues beneath the surface at Samp.
Dennis Praet was moved on this summer without an obvious replacement coming in, Fabio Quagliarella is a year older, Gregoire Defrel is back at Roma and he’s got a calamitous central defensive pairing.
Anyone in charge at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris would struggle and should he be sacked that will be proven.
Napoli, Torino, Fiorentina and Inter are next up for the Blucerchiati, so things could get a whole lot worse before they start to get better. But, for now, time and work is needed in Liguria.
Sassuolo pose a threat
Roberto De Zerbi always likes his sides to play an attractive brand of football, and he’s got a squad at Sassuolo that are capable of delivering just that.
When Kevin Prince Boateng left last year they were lacking a threat in the final third to convert their possession into chances or goals but Caputo offers them exactly that.
Moreover, his presence draws defenders towards him and frees up space for Berardi to exploit. Even Alfred Duncan was heavily involved in the final third as he moved into space, as was Junior Traore.
With Jeremie Boga arriving from the bench as well, De Zerbi has attacking options and Sassuolo will fancy themselves to push into the top half this season.