On Sunday, i Blucerchiati suffered their first defeat of the season, a 2-1 reverse at the hands of Napoli. Having taken the lead thanks to an Antonio Cassano penalty, with less than 15 minutes to go, Sampdoria allowed Marek Hamsik to equalise before Edinson Cavani poked home a late winner. While a defeat is always disappointing, the manner of Sunday’s defeat will leave an especially sour taste for Coach Domenico Di Carlo.
Gianluca Curci was quick to point to the European away game as a reason for the defeat. The Sampdoriq ‘keeper claimed: “It was not the usual Samp this evening, maybe we were tired because of the trip to Holland.” This could easily be dismissed as a poor excuse, but perhaps there is some truth in what Curci says. Although changes were made for the game against PSV, the spine of the team was essentially the same as that which took the field against Napoli. Antonio Cassano, Angelo Palombo, Daniele Gastaldello and Curci all played 90 minutes in both games, suggesting that fatigue could well have been a factor in Samp’s late collapse.
Another possible factor in the defeat could be a loss of concentration late in the game. Having kept an adventurous Napoli side at bay for 80 minutes, two lapses in concentration cost i Blucerchiati the three points. Central defender Daniele Gastaldello revealed: “It’s a matter of concentration. We must all be focused and united until the end, because it is normal that opponents will throw everything at you in the last minutes to retrieve something from the game.” The evidence certainly supports Gastaldello’s statements; the side conceded a late equaliser against PSV in midweek before surrendering their lead against Napoli.
Coach Domenico Di Carlo also bemoaned the late concessions, claiming to be bitterly disappointed with the result. However, the tactician was reluctant to criticise his side, rather pointing out that: “We started the match positively, and played well until we scored the first goal. After that, we were unlucky, hitting the post.” Di Carlo went on to praise his side’s performance, claiming: “I saw a good performance by the team.” The young coach did reveal how disappointed he was to have again lost to a team managed by Walter Mazzarri, a foe that Di Carlo has yet to record a win against, but in all he appeared happy with his side’s performance.
In fact, there are many positives for the coach to take from the game. The return of Giampaolo Pazzini to the attack was a major boost, as was the performance turned in by Stefano Guberti. While Pazzini did not look at his clinical best, he remains a constant threat whenever he takes the field. Guberti, on the other hand, was in fine form. The mercurial winger was at his elusive best as he played havoc with the Napoli defence and was unlucky not to score with a splendid effort that cannoned of the bar in the second half. The former Roma winger is a vital player for i Blucerchiati as he is one of the few players in the squad able to take some of the creative burden from the shoulders of Antonio Cassano.
Another positive note for Di Carlo is that every passing game brings the recovery of Andrea Poli closer. The young midfielder is yet to play this season and the coach is eagerly awaiting his return from injury, as he is key to the aims of Samp this season. His replacement, Daniele Dessena, has impressed in his absence, but his limitations were laid bare by the buccaneering approach of the Napoli midfield. While Sampdoria are certainly more dangerous in attack with him in the side, his lack of defensive presence leaves Angelo Palombo exposed all too often.
Despite their defeat though, Di Carlo will not be disheartened. If he had been offered a haul of four points from his opening three fixtures before the season, he would have been happy to accept. With three comparatively simple fixtures ahead, against Cagliari, Udinese and Bologna, Di Carlo will be confident that his side can consolidate their position in the upper echelons of the table and get some real momentum going.