Sub edited by Riley Finch
Another sour note left with the Sampdoria faithful in the Stadio Luigi Ferraris, with former disgraced club president Massimo Ferrero being seen escorted out of the ground by security as one of the games few highlights, while the Serie A’s bottom side slumped to a whimpering 1-0 defeat to AS Roma.
After current president Marco Lanna announced just recently, there was no change in the club’s position and they are still expecting to be purchased by a group allegedly led by Qatari royal Khalid Faleh al Thani. The stagnant state of the potential deal very much mirrored the placid toothless performance by the home side. Like many of their performances this campaign, they yet again failed to conjure any real threat to a Jose Mourinho’s side who displayed a textbook Mourinho-esque performance to see off the league’s worst performing side with relative ease.Embed from Getty Images
Sampdoria 4-4-2: GK: Audero, RB: Bereszynski (C), CB: Ferrari, CB: Colley, LB: Augello, RM: Leris, CM: Rincon, CM: Villar, LM: Duricic, ST: Gabbiadini, ST: Caputo
As Roma 3-5-2: GK: Patricio, CB: Mancini, CB: Smalling, CB: Ibanez, LWB: El Shaarawy, RWB: Zalewski, DM: Cristante, DM: Camara, AM: Pellegrini (C), ST: Belloti ST: Abraham
The opening five minutes of the contest was a brilliant demonstration of how to high press by Roma and a how not to beat the high press by Sampdoria. Whenever pressurized you could see in the faces of the La Samp defenders sheer panic and although attempting to play progressively out from defense, they lacked the capacity to do so successfully. It seemed inevitable that they the home side were to concede after this tone was set not just from the attitude on the pitch but the sense within the ground. They are yet to record a clean sheet in the league since back in August.
Initially it seemed as though the neat work by Tammy Abraham in the left corner of the box was wasted by Lorenzo Pellegrini as the Englishman’s subsequent cross couldn’t be directed goalward by the Italian. But after further inspection from the VAR, the match official Marco Di Bello deemed that Alex Ferrari’s outstretched hand had altered the trajectory of the ball from the desired right-foot of Pellegrini and a penalty was awarded.
There was no doubt in manner of which the Roma captain dispatched the penalty, rifling the ball into the top-left corner and netting his first league goal of the season, compiling the fan’s already underwhelming support for a side they may already have lost belief in the ability to stay in the prestigious division. With Sampdoria only accruing five league goals this season, going 1-0 down to a Mourinho side at near full strength (well certainly defensively that is) introduced an eerie atmosphere amongst the supporters that it would now be a long way back.Embed from Getty Images
The response from Dejan Stankovic’s side seemingly was to create overloads in the wide areas in order to get in behind the Roma wing-backs to then drag out the wider center-backs more than they would generally like to venture. It was also to have Manolo Gabbiadini drop in as a number 10 in possession in what I could only guess as a rudimentary of matching up with the three Roma midfielders.Embed from Getty Images
However, all this did was isolate Francesco Caputo and in actuality it would have been more beneficial to implement out of possession, due to the fact that Roma’s build up play came through three avenues. Long percentage balls up to the two imposing centre-forwards in Abraham and Andrea Belloti, either at them directly to try and win second balls that were knocked down or in behind the channels for the forwards to run on too and stretch the back line of the hosts. When then they did go short, they either waited for Pellegrini to drop deep on the half turn or would look for Camara to progress the ball with surging runs. Bryan Cristante played (as he often does for this Mourinho side) as the enforcer breaking down play with ferocious tackles and intercepting the many wayward passes of his opponents.
The majority of the first-half played out as such, forcing Stankovic to change personnel and system as a means of matching his former manager’s system like for like after the restart. This unfortunately left the hosts open to balls into the channels, due to this system only being effective if the wide central-defenders are comparable one-on-one defenders. This is something that Sampdoria clearly lack and in reality the changing of the system only enabled the home to become easier to counter attack against and had second half substitute Nicolo Zaniolo been less wasteful and been able to hold his run while being unmarked on the halfway line the final score line would have reflected that.Embed from Getty Images
Even with a token cameo from nearly 40-year-old Fabio Quagliarella the attacking production from the 20th placed side (without sounding too cliché) that of a team destined to join their inner-city rivals Genoa in the Serie B. It is a sad state of affairs currently at Sampdoria, a club who in the early 90’s was competing with Europe’s best but gone are the days of managers Sven-Goran Eriksson and the likes of greats such as Ruud Gullit and Gianluca Vialli. It is now the unfortunate age of Filip Duricic and Omar Colley accompanied with the desperate desire to be saved financially by a member of the Qatari royal family. A deal which to the La Samp faithful has all the attributes of a mirage of a freshwater lake to exhausted traveler dying of thirst. It all seems too good to be true.