Giampaolo Pazzini told La Gazzetta dello Sport he wants the Sampdoria fans to witness Champions League football being played in the Stadio Luigi Ferraris next season.
“This place deserves great stages. We must keep growing, also because I have never liked living situations of fulfilment and satisfaction. It’s a strange season, but for sure Palermo are doing very well. But we know the worth of a team like Juve. And then this Napoli side also has a lot of enthusiasm. Anyway, it would be stupid to think about the others. It’s already difficult enough looking at our own house. At the beginning of the year no one asked us to finish fourth. We are up there, and there are seven games left to try and do it. We have missed various opportunities. It hasn’t always been our fault, but if you take five or six points away from a team like Samp it can weigh heavily.”
Despite giving recognition to the respected challengers to fourth spot Pazzini is confident that Sampdoria’s form will see them clinch the coveted fourth spot in the last seven games. At present Sampdoria sit in seventh place level on points with sixth placed Napoli and fifth placed Juventus whilst Palermo hold fourth three points above the chasing pack.
Sampdoria hit the ground running in August winning their first four games convincingly before a defeat at Fiorentina threatened to stunt their progress. This was not so as Gigi Del Neri’s men impressively disposed on Inter by a goal to nil and the carried on to stay undefeated in the next three games. The partnership of Cassano and Pazzini had press and fans alike talking of a possible title challenge and references to the great Sampdoria of 1991 were becoming common place. The next game was a trip to Turin to play Juventus, in what would not only become an embarrassment as they capitulated 5-1 but a shock that would take three months to recover from. November and December saw only one victory, a 2-1 home win against Chievo, however, this period saw two draws and four defeats including a 3-0 demolition at the hands of Milan a 3-1 defeat at lowly Livorno and the most horrific of all a 3-0 defeat to the bitter city rivals Genoa. By the end of January Sampdoria’s luck began to change a hard fought 2-3 win away at Udinese was followed by a 2-0 victory at Atalanta and the Blucerchiati could see that the season still had promise. These results were part of a six game unbeaten run with included revenge against Fiorentina for the early season defeat and an impressive draw away at champions Inter. A defeat to Parma at the end of February was the only minor slip up in what was otherwise an impressive month. March also has proved fruitful with two very good victories against Lazio and Juventus two draws and only one defeat at the hands of Bari.
Next is a trip to Chievo followed by what will be a tough last seven games. Should Sampdoria get a result in Verona or not the full attention will be switched immediately to the derby against Genoa, this passionate affair will have extra spice as Sampdoria push for Europe and also want to avenge their 3-0 hammering last time out. This huge match is followed by two of potentially even greater magnitude as the Blucerchiati face a visit from AC Milan and then a trip to face Roma, both title contenders. Livorno may give Sampdoria some respite despite the fact that they were beaten by the Tuscans earlier in the season, but then Champions League pretenders Palermo and Napoli will eventually round up a tough end to Sampdoria’s season.
The task ahead of the men from the Stadio Luigi Ferraris maybe huge but they will have to take it one game at a time. Chievo are up next and the trip to the Stadio Bentegodi will have to be without Daniele Mannini who is suspended and Nicola Pozzi also won’t travel. The rest of the line up should mirror the staring line up tat played at Cagliari with Marco Rossi now also fit.
Pazzini may dream of Champions League nights under the floodlights of the Stadio Luigi Ferraris and he may even think that a team of Sampdoria’s stature belong in the competition but before any repeats of a European final against Barcelona, before even the Champions League deciding fixtures against AC Milan, Roma or Palermo and before the Derby della Lanterna, they need to beat a bunch of ‘Flying Donkeys’.