The Blucerchiati are a bit of a mystery, and offer fans more questions than answers going into the season, writes Edo Dalmonte.
Sampdoria fans are itching at the prospect of facing the rigours of calcio once more, especially after the last campaign was completely scuttled by midway, leaving Vincenzo Montella to put the pieces back together as best he could.
L’Aeroplanino’s sudden departure for Milan has, however, forced Samp to press the reset button once again. This may not be a terrible thing, as Vasco Regini and Matias Silvestre now look to remain. The addition of good crosser Daniel Pavlovic and Roma loaner Leandro Castan should finally give the defence some solidity, and even left-back Dodò could return.
New Coach Marco Giampaolo seems a wise choice, and did well with limited squads when he was at Cagliari and Empoli. He has good talents in this starting XI, from goalkeeper Emiliano Viviano to the midfield trio of Edgar Barreto, Ricky Alvarez and Luca Cigarini.
Sampdoria’s main problem, however, is that they're run by Massimo Ferrero, calcio’s answer to Captain Jack Sparrow, known for destabilising former Coach Walter Zenga by proposing the addition of both Antonio Cassano and Mario Balotelli.
He's been quieter this summer (except for his reported threats to Samuel Eto’o’s agent), but possibly too quiet, as the midfield lacks alternatives for a Coach whose system is very tiring. Bruno Fernandes has yet to emerge as a bona-fide Serie A midfielder, beginning last season pretty poorly in Udine. Until he arrives, Filip Djuricic is set to start behind the strikers - a bit of a pickle as the Serbian flattered to deceive with Benfica and Anderlecht.
Sampdoria may also lack guarantees in attack, despite theoretically possessing three game-changers. Luis Muriel can carry a team or flounder, while Fabio Quagliarella looked good here last season, but may be too old to still be a consistent goalscorer. Ante Budimir is promising, but coming from Crotone in Serie B.
Samp’s lot in life is to sell stars like Fernando and Soriano, and as Coach Giampaolo recently confirmed, they still have signings to make in midfield. Could be a Top 10 side if Quagliarella and Budimir click, but their limited squad will cause them to decline at some stage.
A clever tactician who was linked to Milan, he applies a demanding system where the pressing is non-stop and the players learn passing schemes off by heart. His Empoli side fell off a cliff last season, however, reinforcing both the suspicion that he was benefitting from predecessor Maurizio Sarri’s success and that the squad wasn't big enough. Just like Samp's!
Genuinely a player of the season contender last time round, making big saves in the Doria’s few tight wins. The former Palermo shot-stopper has a better defence in front of him this year, but will still be fundamental.
It was a toss-up between Castan and Luca Cigarini, but the former pips it because Sampdoria really struggled in central defence last year. He has everything to prove after his long lay-off, but was great at Roma before surgery to correct irregular blood vessels in the brain two years ago. A redemptive season looks to be on the cards.
Chosen by default since Roberto Soriano’s departure, and the fact that Viviano hasn’t been called up since 2011. Only recovered from a horrible ACL tear in recent months, ironically sustained on international duty. His latest cap was a reward from Coach Antonio Conte, and he’ll need to fight hard to get back in the set-up.
Someone like Balotelli could have given Samp unpredictability in attack, but the Liverpool striker’s huge wages and years of baggage could’ve made it another powder-keg scenario, especially with President Ferrero in the area.
Viviano; De Silvestri, Silvestre, CASTAN, PAVLOVIC; Barreto, CIGARINI, Alvarez; DJURICIC; BUDIMIR, Quagliarella