Everybody was talking about Sampdoria after they beat Juventus 3-2 last weekend. After securing a derby victory against cross-city rivals Genoa in the previous round, Marco Giampaolo’s side raced to sixth place in the league with such a shocking win over the reigning champions.
Even after the loss of the likes of Patrik Schick, Milan Skriniar, Luis Muriel and Bruno Fernandes in the summer, the impressive Coach marched on regardless, creating a side with so much heart and work-rate - a mixture of talented youth and experience. Even Roma owner James Pallotta said that Sampdoria should be considered title contenders should they win their re-arranged fixture with the Giallorossi.
There are only five points between those two sides, but on Saturday afternoon the Blucerchiati came crashing down to earth with a bump. A 3-0 defeat at Bologna – with the home side down to 10 men – was only their third loss of the season, an entirely unexpected result given Samp’s recent good performances.
Giampaolo had warned before the kick-off that the win over Juve must be backed up by another victory this Saturday. Otherwise they may as well have lost to the Bianconeri and beaten Bologna, an occurrence that would have surprised nobody. But depending on how this squad now react to such a disappointment, it could be a blessing in disguise.
Despite Pallotta’s flattery, it is not realistic to think that this young team can win the title, no matter how impressive and entertaining their football has been this season. A European finish would be an ideal reward for their efforts, giving their young stars a chance to play in a more testing arena should they remain with the club this summer.
It only takes a look at the exploits of Atalanta this season to see just how beneficial this might be, La Dea having beaten the likes of Everton and Olympique Lyonnais to hold top spot in their Europa League group. With this in mind, Sampdoria should continue to build on their strong home form, having won all six of their games at Marassi this term.
Moreover, the wake-up call at the Stadio Dall’Ara this Saturday could have been just what they needed to realise their away form needs much work if they are to achieve what they are so clearly capable of in terms of a European finish. Giampaolo’s men have won just twice away from the partisan atmosphere of their home stadium, a record that really does need improving on.
The Coach was correct when he spoke before the match. There really is no point beating the likes of Juventus if they can’t back it up in what seemed like a much easier fixture the following week. He will undoubtedly use the experience of this defeat as a springboard in the league, especially with another tough home fixture against Lazio to follow next weekend.