Coppa Italia: Round of 16 / Team rating: 7 / Top scorer: Eder (9)
Sinisa Mihajlovic has made Sampdoria a harder team to break down, but perhaps just lack some creativity in the final third, writes Richard Hall.
Sinisa Mihajlovic was desperate to improve on his team’s 12th place finish from the year before. They had done well since his arrival halfway through last season, but this time it was his team and his way of playing.
The Serbian has been known for his strict disciplinarian approach and it was his back line that would feel the brunt of this. Conceding 68 goals last year was simply not good enough and, despite tactics of locking his team in the changing room and a play only to win mantra, they had struggled in defence.
This season he continued with the 4-2-3-1 system, but focused much more on the front players pressing so that they could hold the opposition back line deep and also discourage counter attacks. The departure of Manolo Gabbiadini to Napoli midway through the campaign also did not help in the goal-scoring department. Samuel Eto’o often looked his age this year, whilst Luis Muriel can be happy with his contribution, but will be hoping for more next season.
Roberto Soriano was left with the responsibility of a lot of the creative aspects in the midfield and, despite having an excellent season, he could not carry the team. Even so Sampdoria went on picking up results with their main improvement being a noticeable ability to turn last season’s defeats into draws.
For several months they were the surprise outfit in Serie A, battling for third place and Champions League qualification. A slump in the closing stages threatens to overshadow those remarkable achievements.
Mihajlovic’s team have crawled into seventh place and look like they have qualified for the Europa League thanks to a 2-2 draw with Parma on the last day. This edged out competitors Inter, meaning that they will qualify should city rivals Genoa have their appeal for a UEFA license rejected.
The Serbian Coach left saying that his 'debt has been paid', hoping the fans and the club will see the last 18 months as an improvement. Linked heavily with the Napoli job, Mihajlovic has said that even if Sampdoria do not make Europe, they can be proud of their achievements.
Not particularly pretty this year, the Blucerchiati have certainly become more solid at the back. With or without Europe the next Coach has a very solid basis to work from. Sampdoria’s season can be seen as progress and now that Sinisa has left it will be with no bitterness from the fans.
What the Blucerchiati can be proud of is that their team is now an established, tough and well drilled Serie A outfit. This is not something they could say 18 months ago. For this reason the campaign is a success and it will not take much to sprinkle some stardust on it. The future is certainly bright for Sampdoria.
The Serbian has created a team that doesn’t know when it is beaten. They worked hard on the training ground defensively this year and that was translated into results. Only losing eight times compared to 17 the year before, Sampdoria have become a mirror image of their Coach. They are tough and resilient and also can showcase a bit of magic from time to time.
Nine goals may not have many shouting from the Genoese rooftops, but Eder’s step up in class this year has been evident. Hampered in some respects by the sale of Manolo Gabbiadini, he carried Sampdoria on his own at times. His ability to hold up play and suggest such a threat often made the opposition sit deeper than they wanted to. A true example of defending from the front.
- Eder has been Sampdoria’s top scorer in their last two campaigns, netting 12 and nine.
- Sampdoria’s Afriyie Acquah has the second worst disciplinary record in Serie A with 11 yellows and two reds.
- The Blucerchiati managed just one victory in the final 10 rounds.
|33||GK||Sergio Romero||9 (1)||0||0|
|28||D||Daniele Gastaldello||13 (1)||2||0|
|27||D||Lorenzo De Silvestri||33||4||3|
|5||D||Alessio Romagnoli||28 (2)||2||2|
|19||D||Vasco Regini||25 (3)||0||0|
|26||D||Matias Silvestre||28 (1)||0||2|
|86||D||Fabrizio Cacciatore||8 (3)||0||0|
|24||D||Ezequiel Munoz||3 (1)||0||0|
|25||D||Andrea Coda||0 (2)||0||0|
|14||M||Pedro Obiang||32 (2)||3||1|
|21||M||Roberto Soriano||29 (4)||4||2|
|6||M||Alfred Duncan||13 (3)||1||2|
|17||M||Angelo Palombo||34 (2)||1||3|
|30||M||Djamel Mesbah||12 (4)||0||0|
|8||M||Joaquin Correa||2 (4)||0||0|
|22||M||Luca Rizzo||7 (8)||1||0|
|77||M||Pawel Wsolek||2 (4)||0||1|
|12||M||Gianluca Sansone||1 (3)||0||0|
|18||M||Gonzalo Bergessio||7 (16)||1||1|
|10||M||Nenad Krsticic||2 (10)||0||0|
|30||M||Francesco Fedato||0 (1)||0||0|
|27||F||Luka Djordjevic||1 (2)||0||0|
|9||F||Stefano Okaka||26 (6)||4||2|
|24||F||Luis Muriel||11 (5)||4||4|
|99||F||Samuel Eto'o||13 (5)||2||3|
|11||F||Manolo Gabbiadini||11 (2)||7||2|