Italian football has historically been known for placing importance on results over style but there has been an emergence of attack-minded coaches in recent years willing to buck the trend.
Sampdoria under Marco Giampaolo and Sassuolo, who have been coached by Roberto De Zerbi since the summer of 2018, were a couple of Italy’s greatest entertainers in the 2010s, possessing the desire to attack as much as possible but were also vulnerable at the back.
Both the strengths and flaws of the two sides were evident in Round 28 of the 2018/19 Serie A season in an eight-goal thriller which featured eight different goalscorers. Early in the season, they were contenders to qualify for Europe, but the two sides had consistency issues after the winter break.
Sampdoria took the lead after 15 minutes when Gregoire Defrel won the ball in midfield and then combined with fellow attackers Manolo Gabbiadini and Fabio Quagliarella before beating Sassuolo goalkeeper Andrea Consigli with an angled drive.
Quagliarella double Il Doria’s lead in the 36th minute with curling right-foot shot and it started a period in which there were three goals in as many minutes. Jeremie Boga pulled one back from right in front of goal but then Karol Linetty restored Samp’s two-goal cushion after an excellent team move.
Belgian midfielder Dennis Praet made it 4-1 for Sampdoria less than a minute into the second half, completing another fine possession build-up from the Doriani, but Alfred Duncan made it 4-2 after 63 minutes with a deflected long-range strike.
Gabbiadini ran onto a Linetty through-ball and made it 5-2 in the 72nd minute but Khouma Babacar curled a shot into the net in stoppage time to make the final score 5-3. The Doriani played some sumptuous passing football but the Neroverdi did expose some of their defensive frailties.
Although they went on to defeat AC Milan 1-0 the week after, Sampdoria lost five of their last nine Serie A matches and remained ninth, a long way off a Europa League spot. Sassuolo did break their winless streak in Round 30 by thrashing Chievo 4-0 but they only added one more victory and finished 11th.
The evergreen Quagliarella at the age of 36 finished the season as the leading goalscorer in Serie A with 26 goals while Giampaolo then went on to have an ill-fated coaching spell at AC Milan.