In emerging from the San Siro with a 1-1 draw, Sampdoria made clear the progress that the club has been quietly making so far this season. I Blucerchiati pushed Inter right to the wire and claimed a result that announces the intentions of the club to compete at the very highest level. While the current campaign may not have gone completely to plan, the overall feeling regarding performances so far this season can be nothing but positive.
The varied reactions to the result from the managers, players and the media says a great deal about how Sampdoria now see themselves and how they are viewed by the footballing community as a whole. For example, former Samp star Francesco Flacchi considers the result a success, saying: “Drawing at Inter is not child’s play. Well done Sampdoria”, while defender Massimo Volta agreed, claiming: “We gave everything, so we are happy for this. We are very happy for our performance.” Interestingly, Domenico Di Carlo was not quite so enthusiastic about the result. While the coach expressed satisfaction, he also bemoaned the enforced substitution of Gianluca Curci, saying: “I wanted to bring on another striker. We could have put them under more pressure.”
The disappointment expressed by Di Carlo is extremely telling. It suggests that the coach went into the game with the object of winning rather than simply avoiding defeat. That Sampdoria can play at the home of the current domestic and European champions and be a little disappointed not to have won serves to underline the club’s newfound status as one of the top sides in Serie A.
Progress has also been made on the pitch and Di Carlo’s side is really beginning to take shape. The signing of Gianluca Curci is proving to be an absolute masterstroke as the custodian put in another solid performance, marshalling his defence brilliantly and pulling of a number of world class saves. The importance of the ex-Roma and Siena man to i Blucerchiati cannot be underestimated. The summer departure of Marco Storari had threatened to plunge the club back into goalkeeping crisis, but Curci has steadied the ship and, should his excellent form continue, a call up to national side cannot be far off.
Elsewhere in the side, the signs of progress are clear. Many commentators have claimed that Sampdoria lacked sufficient defensive cover to compete. On Sunday, Massimo Volta turned in a performance that went a long way to proving them all wrong. Standing in for the suspended Stefano Lucchini, Volta was strong at the back and, alongside Daniele Gastaldello, formed a defensive wall that proved exceptionally difficult for Inter to break down. While Volta’s individual performance was impressive, Di Carlo will have been more pleased by the manner in which his defence played as a whole. Having spoken a great deal at the beginning of the season about the importance of defensive solidarity, it seems that Di Carlo and his team have achieved it. I Blucerchiati have only once conceded more than a single goal in a game in Serie A this season, and that was away to Juventus.
The return of Andrea Poli to Serie A action will also have pleased the coach, as the young midfielder looks to continue his comeback from injury. He replaced Fernando Tissone to great effect on Sunday and will look to compete for a starting berth against Cesena next weekend. The integration of Vladimir Koman and Guido Marilungo into the first team set up is also proving a success. The Hungarian Koman played the full 90 minutes against Inter in the absence of Franco Semioli and could well have done enough to usurp the Italian and maintain his place in the side for the next game. While his decision-making still leaves a little to be desired, his talent is clear and Di Carlo will hope that his progress continues throughout the season. Marilungo has been a revelation coming off the bench this season and continued his good form in a short cameo. One brilliant ball to pick out Koman showed his class while his energy, versatility and tenacious attitude all mark him out as a future star.
The season so far can be considered a success and Di Carlo will be keen for it to continue in the same vein. A good result against struggling Cesena next Sunday will allow Samp to pick up momentum as they continue to climb the table in search of the Champions League places.