When Serie A returns after the international break, it brings with it a number of games that are both difficult and greatly important to Sampdoria. I Blucerchiati have not recorded a victory in the league since their opening day win over Lazio and have been misfiring in front of goal, failing to notch more than a single goal in a game since the 3-3 draw against Juventus over a month ago.
While it is much to early to talk about a run of fixtures being potentially season defining, Sampdoria could very well be calling some games must-win in the near future should things not go to plan.
The first, and probably most important of the upcoming games is Sunday’s encounter with Fiorentina. Both sides have experienced equally indifferent starts to the season and will be looking to turn things around after the two-week break from the league. Although i Blucerchiati are waiting on the fitness of Daniele Gastaldello after the defensive stalwart picked up an ankle injury, Sunday could finally bring the return of Andrea Poli to first team action. The young midfielder was on the bench against Bologna and will hope to get some playing time on Sunday as he looks to work his way back into the starting line up.
Italy internationals Antonio Cassano, Angelo Palombo and Giampaolo Pazzini will all return to the Marassi keen to put in a good performance to erase memories of the violent scenes that caused the game between Italy and Serbia to be called off earlier this week. Pazzini revealed his disappointment with how things turned out, saying: “It could have been a great night of football in a beautiful stadium full of children and families, we are very sorry.” The forward will be especially eager to get on the score sheet against his old club, as he is yet to register a goal in the league this season.
Although it will be a tight game, there is no reason why Samp should not be able to pick up three points against the Florence outfit. While they possess an abundance of creativity in the midfield, they sorely lack any kind of physical presence and will not enjoy the aggression of Angelo Palombo in the Sampdoria engine room. Fiorentina also appear to have something of a soft centre in defence, a weakness that Antonio Cassano and Giampaolo Pazzini will look to exploit.
A good result against Fiorentina is vital, as it will allow i Blucerchiati to pick up some momentum ahead of difficult trips to Metalist Kharkiv, Inter Milan and highflying Cesena. One positive aspect of having three away games in a row is the opportunity to escape the questionable playing surface at the Marassi that has too often prevented Samp from playing to their full potential of late.
The trip to Metalist could provide some relief as Domenico Di Carlo is likely to rest some of his first team and give the likes of Nicola Pozzi, Guido Marilungo and Pedro Obiang the chance to impress against the Ukrainians who proved they are not a side to be taken lightly when they hammered Debrecen 5-0 in Hungary.
Sunday’s game also offers an opportunity for Sampdoria to send out a message to the clubs that are circling like vultures, eyeing up a number of their players. Rumours regarding moves from various clubs for Antonio Cassano, Reto Ziegler and Marilungo have resurfaced during the last couple of weeks and an upturn in the club’s form would go a long way towards refuting talk of exits. With Ziegler and Cassano key squad members and Marilungo earmarked as a future star, i Blucerchiati will certainly be looking to hold onto come the January transfer window.
Should Sampdoria emerge from the encounter with Fiorentina victorious, Di Carlo will be confident that his side can push on and carry their good form into the matches against Inter, Cesena and Metalist. The coach will be under no illusions about the task facing his side, but will also have every confidence that they can come out of the difficult run of games with points in the bag and having climbed further up the table in their defence of fourth place.