Semioli 17, Pazzini 40
Fiorentina found themselves haunted by the ghosts of players past as a dominant Sampdoria breezed past them at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris.
Viola old boys Franco Semioli and Giampaolo Pazzini scored the goals in a one-sided encounter. Sampdoria, who have not lost at home since January 2009, are on a run of three straight wins and started the brightest. Reto Ziegler set his stall out early on showing devastating running and movement down the left before spurning a powerful shot wide in the opening minutes. The industrious Swiss international was a constant threat, bombing forward at every opportunity and constantly evading his marker.
It was clear from the start that Fiorentina struggled to adapt their play to the difficult pitch conditions. They looked a different team to the fluid, passing side that narrowly lost to Roma last week. To compensate for the dreadful surface they opted to play a long ball game dropping Riccardo Montolivo deep – the tactic failed miserably as Sampdoria dominated in the midfield with the Viola resorting to panicked long balls.
Juan Manuel Vargas looked a shadow of the player that terrorised the Giallorossi defence last week and he was largely anonymous all night – marked out of the game by a highly effective Luciano Zauri with Montolivo struggling to provide him with service from his deeper position. La Viola’s impotence in midfield was compounded further by the early exit of creative midfielder Mario Santana who came off with a thigh strain on 13 minutes – they also lost Alessandro Gamberini to a shoulder injury early on.
As a depleted Viola side failed to impress themselves on the game Sampdoria poured forward at will. The deadlock was broken in unusual circumstances when Semioli followed up after the ball struck the bar, nodding home via a wicked deflection off Manuel Pasqual.
Despite the role good fortune played in the first goal la Viola faithful have no reason to feel hard done by. Tactically the Blucerchiati were impeccable, pressing in the midfield and starving an uninspiring Viola forward-line of any service. Throughout the game Sampdoria’s faultlessly drilled back four sprung an offside trap that totally nullified the already rarely effective Viola long ball tactic. The second goal again uncovered the defensive frailties that dogged la Viola in their game against Roma. Pazzini easily shook his marker putting a strong header past Sebastien Frey from a Ziegler free-kick.
Pazanni’s goal rubbed salt into Fiorentina’s wounds. The 25-year-old joined Sampdoria after failing to hold down a starting place during a difficult spell with la Viola. He has formed a prolific partnership with Antonio Cassasno since moving, with his latest goal propelling Sampdoria to fourth and Champions League contention while his old club languish in the bottom half, unable to score the goals in the league required to help them replicate their impressive European form.
For Cesare Prandelli’s men their mid-season slump shows no sign of ending, with only one win in the league this year and with no news on the Adrian Mutu situation their chances of retaining their Champions League status next season look ever diminishing. The Blucerchiati on the other hand will be delighted with another convincing win at home. They may not be the purist’s favourite team to watch but their well organised and resolute defence, mastery of the long ball game and strike-force clearly in a rich vein of form have put them in serious contention to take the coveted fourth spot.