The Sampdoria reign of fledgling Italian manager Roberto di Lazaró had begun fairly quietly, with a relatively pleasing opening day defeat at Atalanta backed up with a win over Salernitana and the sole addition of hot prospect defender Anel Ahmedhozdic. If you missed the first part of the series, then read on here.
Moving into September, Serie A resumed after an international break with a trip to early leaders Spezia, who injured hot prospect Mikkel Damsgaard and had a player sent off. But they held on for a 1-1 draw as Samp struggled to convert their chances bar a Fabio Quagliarella penalty.
That was followed by a first Lanterna Derby at home to city rivals Genoa, which wasn’t the best match ever and Samp nicked it with another Quagliarella strike from the penalty spot.
Things got a bit more tricky with a trip to Lazio, who strolled to a 3-0 win, then entertaining leaders AC Milan, who nicked a 2-1 win late on after absolutely dominating the game with 28 shots to six. They then earned a 0-0 at Torino, who went into the game in second place. So after seven games, Samp had won two, drawn two, lost three and only scored five and conceded eight. Not exactly thrilling football!
Another international break saw Samp pick up a mass of injuries but return with a 1-1 draw at home to Bologna, who undeservedly equalised late on. They were slightly better at Empoli and twice led through Albin Ekdal’s first of the season and Antonio Candreva’s second but twice conceded equalisers to draw 2-2. While the hugely disappointing Mikkel Damsgaard had two goals disallowed. A fourth successive draw followed in a 0-0 at home to second-place Sassuolo, which took Samp to six games without a win and just two wins in their opening 10 games. However, they were only two points behind Juventus, who’d lost five of their first 10!
They had a big opportunity to get back to winning ways as they faced both bottom sides in the next two games. And they did so at the first attempt with a brilliant second half performance at bottom side Venezia. Ekdal got things going with a 30-yard screamer, striker Francesco Caputo came off the bench to score his first two Samp goals and midfielder Adrien Silva returned from injury off the bench to curl home a delicious free-kick.
That win was backed up with a 1-0 win over next-to-bottom Hellas Verona courtesy of another substitute goal from midfielder Ronaldo Vieira. That meant a third consecutive clean sheet and fourth in the last six games. Two more followed as a more defensive approach held Roma and Udinese to consecutive 0-0 away draws and another with a 0-0 at home to Inter. And that equalled the all-time club record of six consecutive clean sheets, set way back in 1970. But that all changed with a first-half battering at Juve, but Samp somehow only lost 2-1.
A tough run of games continued as Samp hosted Napoli and were unlucky to find themselves 2-0 down after just three shots. But the game swung on a triple substitution that inspired a comeback to draw 2-2 as Quagliarella ended his 11-hour goal drought and Maya Yoshida headed home his first of the season with four minutes remaining.
Another five game winless streak was snapped at Cagliari, where Samp dominated with 24 shots to nine but only won 1-0 courtesy of a first-half Quagliarella penalty. However, that proved to be his final goal for the club as he suddenly decided he wanted to leave at the end of his contract, so we had to accept a £250,000 bid that came in from Al-Gharafa. Despite being the top scorer at the club, he only averaged 6.70 and frees up plenty of wage budget.
2021 concluded by entertaining third-place Fiorentina and Serie A top scorer Dusan Vlahovic, who’d scored 14 goals compared to Samp’s total of 17! But they just about kept the striker quiet and earned yet another 0-0 despite Fiorentina racking up 19 shots to five.
After 19 games, Sampdoria had recorded six 0-0 draws and kept a league-high 10 clean sheets but only scored 17 goals. Boring, boring Samp! Despite that, they sat firmly in mid-table in 13th place on 25 points, a comfortable 16 clear of the drop zone and eight away from Europe, but only one point behind Udinese in 10th.
Slightly surprisingly, Lazio are top of the league with Inter down in fourth and Juve down in eighth and 14 points off the top of the league.
A lack of goals is a major concern for di Lazaró, considering the departure of Quagliarella means no player has more than two goals this season. And only nine of the first-team squad have scored. While the performances of the likes of Damsgaard (6.51 average rating), Adrien Silva (6.83) and Ekdal (6.80) were also worrying. This, combined with lots of players’ contracts expiring, means there may be plenty of change in January and the summer of 2022.
Join us next time as Roberto di Lazaró moves into the second half of his first season managing Sampdoria on the FM22 Beta.