After six games without a win pressure was building on Sampdoria and coach Marco Giampaolo. In a pulsating derby della Lanterna against Genoa, Samp finally won a game again, their first win in almost two months. A hard-fought 2-1 win at Stadio Luigi Ferrari’s was the result of an intense, pulsating and highly tactical match between two classic Italian clubs.


Both sets of fans did their part in ensuring a fantastic atmosphere in the stadium.

There was no confusion into how either side played. Sampdoria used their normal 4-3-1-2 shape with the following team: Puggioni; Sala-Silvestre-Skriniak-Regini; Barreto-Torreira-Linetty; Fernandes; Muriel-Quagliarella. No surprises from Genoa either, who started in 3-4-3 with: Perin; Izzo-Burdisso-Orban; Edenilson-Rincón-Veloso-Laxalt; Pandev-Simeone-Rigoni.
Both teams starting formations.

The game was frantic and end-to-end from the first whistle. Samp started better and took the lead through Muriel, but Genoa quickly replied with Rigoni’s equaliser. Genoa were then on top for the rest of the half, but in stoppage time, Quagliarella was brought down by Perin and the home side were awarded a penalty. Perin made amends for his mistake by saving Quagliarella’s effort. 1-1 at the break. In the second half, Sampdoria started better again and took the lead already after two minutes of the second period as Muriel’s cross was punched by Perin onto the unlucky Armando Izzo and bounced into the Genoa goal. Genoa would then press and press but couldn’t find a reply. Sampdoria ran out 2-1 winners and earned three vital points.

Sampdoria’s tactical setup

Here we see a nice overview of Sampdoria’s shape. The only player not in frame is the left-back. A back-four, a tight midfield diamond and two strikers.

Sampdoria didn’t want Genoa to be able to find space between them, and started pressing with their two strikers and the number 10 really tight together. Burdisso on the ball isn’t allowed a central pass but instead shown to pass to either the left or right centre-back or to the right wing-back.

Genoa has been forced wide to Edenilson with Samp keeping seven players on the defensive side. Impossible to play through them, but with better wide play Genoa could have created more. Edenilson and Laxalt both got into good positions, but the end product wasn’t good enough.

Crossing key to all goals

All three goals came from crosses, and this wasn’t a surprise as both teams prefer a solid central positioning. Sampdoria’s diamond shape meant the only natural wide players are the full-backs and they consistently invite teams to play on the outside of the Samp-midfield. Genoa always had the width of the their full-backs, and despite scoring from a cross they really should have done more with their 34 crosses.
Sampdoria’s first goal. Bruno Fernandes makes a run outside Lucas Orban, Genoa’s left-sided centre-back, and behind the left wing-back Diego Laxalt. This space was targeted throughout the game by the home side. On this occasion, Fernandes cross found Quagliarella in the middle, and the Italian then teed up Muriel for his finish.

For Genoa’s equaliser, Edenilson (yellow) was given way too much space by Sampdoria left-back Vasco Regini. Edenilson’s low cross would find Luca Rigoni (red) who easily scored from close range.

This is the winner. Muriel finds himself some space behind Laxalt and outside Orban, and his cross towards Quagliarella is punched by Perin onto the unknowing Izzo and into the goal.

Quick counter-attacking hurts Genoa

Under Giampaolo, Sampdoria are mostly a possession based side and usually try to dominate the ball. Against Genoa however, they ceded possession and instead dominated space before counter-attacking at pace. They only had 37% possession, but had 16 shots to Genoa’s 12.
Normally when a team plays a diamond, both full-backs attack high down the wings. Sampdoria’s, however, are more reserved and stay behind in order to guard against counter-attacks, especially against Genoa’s front three.

konting1.jpgInstead of keeping possession and trying to breaking down Genoa with controlled possession, Giampaolo opted for a more direct style. When the ball was won, the home side tried to quickly release their strikers and create 2 v 3 or even 2 v 2 situations. With Fernandes also always joining in the attack, Samp would always have three central players running at Genoa. In this instant Fernandes plays a long ball in behind towards the running Muriel.

The Colombians pace made sure he got to the ball before Orban and was 1 v 1 with Argentinian. He decided to shoot, which Perin saved, but it was evidence of Giampaolo’s approach.

This time, Fernandes finds space and feeds Quagliarella. His shot was also saved by Perin, but another good counter-attack from Samp which increased a bit of pressure on Genoa. The two strikers had 10 shots combined, and should have scored more goals for Samp.

The contrast to when Genoa broke was stark. Instead of 3 v 3 or 2 v 3, Simeone here is 1 v 4 with the Sampdoria defence. This highlights why Giampaolo kept the full-backs deep at all times, and stopped Genoa from counter-attacking effectively.

A great derby was won by Sampdoria and this game was further evidence of the quality of football the Serie A serves up each week. The intensity was incredible and the passion from both sets of fans made for a tremendous derby. Important win for Sampdoria after six games without a win, but the future looks bright for both Genoa clubs.

Giro d’Italia

In this weekend’s other big game, the young AC Milan defeated champions Juventus at the San Siro. The game was scrappy and intense, but lacked top quality. The only real quality moment in the first half was a Miralem Pjanic that Leo Bonucci attacked without touching, and the ball bounced into Gianluigi Donnarumma’s net. Bonucci was onside but next to him was Mehdi Benatia who was offside. After first allowing the goal, the assistant referee convinced referee Nicola Rizzoli that Bonucci had been offside and therefore distracted Donnarumma. The goal was disallowed and Juventus were outraged. They wouldn’t be happier at full time, as Manuel Locatelli’s incredible strike proved to be the only goal of the game. The 18-year-old scored on his debut three weeks ago, and after making his first start last week he now stared against Juve. His goal was the icing on an impressive performance for the youngster, who looked both calm, composed and tough. Another big win for Milan who closed the gap to two points.

In Udine, Luigi Del Neri’s men secured a vital win at the bottom against Pescara. Cyril Thereau opened the scoring with a Panenka from the penalty spot before adding a second with 20 minutes to go. Alberto Aquilani pulled one back for the visitors with a beautiful effort, but Duvan Zapata completed the 3-1 win with a penalty of his own in stoppage time.

Sinisa Mihajlovic endured an emotional roller coaster at the Olimpico in Turin as his Torino side drew 2-2 with Lazio. Torino took the lead through an Iago Falqué header from Davide Zappacosta’s cross. They would then hold on up until the 75th minute when first Ciro Immobile continued his fine scoring form by equalising against his former club through an acrobatic finish before Alessandro Murgia scored from a corner to put Lazio 2-1 up. Torino levelled things again in stoppage time though, as Adem Ljajic scored his third goal in a week from the spot. Both teams continue to do well, sitting fifth and sixth in the table. Torino are now unbeaten in six, a great start to life in Turin for Mihajlovic.

Atalanta earned a new impressive win, this time against Inter. Andrea Masiello struck first at the Stadio Atleti Azzurri d’Italia before Eder unleashed a thundering strike from a free-kick to level things. In the 88th minute, Atalanta were awarded a penalty, and Mauricio Pinilla scored emphatically to heap ever more pressure on Frank De Boer. It remains to be seen if he’s still in charge on Wednesday against in-form Torino. Atalanta, however, are prospering under Gasperini.

Napoli finally won again as Crotone were beaten 2-1 away from home. José Callejon opened the scoring from close range, and Nikola Maksimovic scored his first goal for the club from a corner. In between the goals, Manolo Gabbiadini produced a moment of madness as he kicked a Crotone player after being fouled. Straight red card for the striker. Crotone chased the game in the second half and Marcus Rohdén missed a sitter to reduce the deficit. The home side would eventually pull one back through Aleandro Rosi, but it was too late for the club that is still rock-bottom.

The most entertaining game of the week was played out in Sardinia where Fiorentina won 5-3 at Cagliari. Nikola Kalinic was the star of the show with three goals and a brilliant assist for Federico Bernardeschi who scored two himself, one being an absolute thunderbolt, and set up Kalinic’ second. Cagliari’s brilliant trequartista Davide Di Gennaro was in excellent form for the home side and scored the opener as well as setting up the other two Cagliari goals. The sensational pair of Kalinic and Bernardeschi gave Fiorentina a massively important win after a poor start which has put Paulo Sousa under pressure lately. This will ease some of it.

Empoli are still struggling for goals, and drew 0-0 at home to Chievo. Last year’s surprise package are still languishing near the bottom and need the likes of Alberto Gilardino, Manuel Pucciarelli and Riccardo Saponara to produce goals if they should have any chance of staying up. A plus point though was keeping a clean sheet against a really good Chievo side.

Bologna have tailed off a bit after a good start, but Simone Verdi’s fine form continues. He scored first at home to Sassuolo with a truly exceptional free-kick, but just as last week Bologna conceded a late equaliser. Demoralising for Roberto Donadoni’s men as Alessandro Matri scored three minutes from full time. For Sassuolo, the goal meant another loss was turned into points as they scored twice in the last ten minutes last week to beat Crotone and now earned a point away from home. They’re ninth, but would have been in the top four if not for the points they were deducted earlier in the season courtesy of fielding an ineligible player against Pescara.

Roma earned another win on Sunday night, as they comfortably put four past Palermo at the Olimpico. Goals from Salah, Paredes, Dzeko and El Shaarawy gave Luciano Spalletti’s team a comfortable 4-1 win. They remain second, two points off Juventus. Palermo lost 4-1 for the second game in a row following their home reverse against Torino on Monday. They need to start adding points, but fortunately the season is still young.

Player of the week

Nikola Kalinic was sensational for Fiorentina at Cagliari with three goals and a brilliant assist.

Goal of the week

Lots of contenders as Locatelli, Immobile, Eder and Bernardeschi all scored brilliant goals, but the winner is Simone Verdi’s superb free-kick for Bologna. You can’t take them better than this.

Coach of the week

Marco Giampaolo’s tactics earned Sampdoria a vital win against their eternal rival Genoa in a terrific encounter. He probably saved his job in the process.

Sampdoria-Genoa 2-1
Milan-Juventus 1-0
Udinese-Pescara 3-1
Atalanta-Inter 2-1
Cagliari-Fiorentina 3-5
Empoli-Chievo 0-0
Torino-Lazio 2-2
Crotone-Napoli 1-2
Bologna-Sassuolo 1-1
Roma-Palermo 4-1

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