Despite going unbeaten through the first half of the 2024/25 campaign, Sampdoria went into the winter break somehow trailing Inter by five points – as the leaders had only failed to win twice and only conceded four goals in 17 games.
The new year began with Duje Caleta-Car moving to Dinamo Moscow for £3 million and Tommaso Augello going to Atalanta for £2 million. While midfielder Yacine Adli attracted interest from Madrid, Inter, PSG and Chelsea, who all came in with ludicrously low bids. Then on deadline day, RB Leipzig came in with a massive £25 million deal to sign Stipe Biuk, who’d been poor and wanted silly money to stay. But that left Samp light on attacking options.
A couple of exciting 18-year-old signings arrived in Real Madrid centre-back Pedro Maqueda, who came in for £6.5 million, and Colombian midfielder Simón García and Brazilian defender Gabriel, who joined on free transfers from Atlético Nacional and Flamengo.
How long can the unbeaten run last?
Samp came into 2024 with a 20-game unbeaten run in Serie A going back to last season. It began with a local derby at Torino, where a defensive injury crisis forced Maqueda into an early debut. The new year began as the last concluded, with Pedro Neto crossing for Cosimo Marco Da Graca to head home the opener then European Golden Boy Andreas Schjelderup smashing home a second. Torino got one back after the break then had a player sent off and Samp eased to a 2-1 success.
That teed up a massive top-of-the-table clash at home to Inter. Samp came flying out of the blocks with 12 shots in the first half but couldn’t convert, while Inter offered nothing. But the game swung on Cosimo being subbed for Marcos Leonardo, who picked the perfect time to head home his first league goal for the club on 83 minutes. One of their subs then got injured but they held on with 10 men for a massive 1-0 win.
The flying form continued with a 4-1 thumping of Sassuolo led by a Cosimo hat-trick. But it came to an end at Napoli with a 1-0 loss despite dominating the game with 20 shots to nine, but an unbeaten run to the end of January is pretty impressive.
The defeat stung Samp into life as they ran riot on Bologna, scoring three in half an hour through Neto, Adli’s second of the season and Cosimo. Adli doubled his tally with a total fluke to get them back to winning ways with a 4-0 thrashing. While Milan then lost their first match, 3-2 away to Monza.
Difficult away days continue
Another tough away day saw Samp earn a 0-0 at Atalanta before beating Empoli 4-0 led by Cherki, who scored and got two assists. However, the string of difficult away days continued and was made more difficult by a massive injury crisis to an already thin squad. They did well to earn a 1-1 at Roma thanks to a sensational Cosimo finish then another excellent defensive effort earned a 0-0 at Juve, which sandwiched a 3-1 Lanterna Derby win at home to Genoa.
All of this had been done without star centre-back Anel Ahmedhodzic, who’d been out for four months with a broken ankle. But he returned probably prematurely for a huge second vs. third home clash with AC Milan. Both sides scored early through goalkeeping errors before Cosimo scored yet another goal. But Milan dominated the second half and deservedly won 3-2.
Swift Europa League exit
The injury concerns left di Lazaró with no choice but to play a second 11 in the Europa League knockouts against Anderlecht. That saw Augusto Scaburri become the first Samp academy product to score for the club as they drew the home leg 2-2 before losing 2-1 in Belgium, despite having twice as many shots in both games!
Chasing Champions League qualification
Samp finally had a nicer looking run of games but, with 10 remaining, they had dropped 10 points behind runaway leaders Inter, were one point behind Milan but had a 12-point advantage over fifth-place Zebre.
The increasingly impressive Schjelderup scored two and made one for Lorenzo Pirola in the first half in a 3-1 win at Udinese. The midfielder then bagged his 15th goal of the season before Cosimo got his 25th in a 3-0 win at home to Monza. And Schjelderup continued to a five-game scoring streak in consecutive 2-0 wins at Crotone and Fiorentina.
Samp wrapped up Champions League football for a third straight season with a 4-2 in at home to Cagliari, in which Neto bagged a hat-trick after scoring once in his previous 11. But Inter just kept winning and had a 10 point lead with five games remaining, so there was no title race.
After the disgrace of not scoring in a match, Schjelderup bagged a hat-trick in as Samp thrashed bottom side Salernitana 5-0. He scored again to claim his side a point at Lazio then created the only goal for Scalvini at Verona then Cosimo ended his 10-hour goal drought to defeat Torino 1-0. And they ended the campaign with a trip to face champions Inter, where they finished with a 2-1 loss despite being arguably the better side.
That meant Samp finished second in Serie A on 87 points, which is apparently the highest-ever points total without winning the league, 13 behind Inter who reached the 100-point mark. Samp won 26, drew nine and only lost three, scoring 86 and conceding 27. Cosimo and Schjeldrup came second and third in the top scorers chart with 26 and 20 league goals respectively.
Schjeldrup also got the most assists (17), most player of the match (9) and highest average rating (7.56), which is a new Serie A rercord. He has been sensational this season! While Gavin Bazunu tied the most clean sheets of 18 with Inter’s Onana.
Schjelderup rightly won the Serie A Player of the Year, Best Player of the Season, Best Midfielder of the Season and Best Young Player of the Season awards. And, interestingly, Cosimo won the “Premio Gentleman Serie A” award as he finished the campaign without a single booking in 38 appearances.
The main man this season has been Schjelderup, who scored 21 and got 17 assists at an average rating of 7.50 from 41 appearances in all competitions. He’s become an absolutely brilliant midfielder. He unsurprisingly won fans’ player and young player of the season. Cosimo top-scored again with 26 goals in 39 games, but he does go on some worrying long streaks without scoring.
Rayan Cherki and Neto – who decided to move to Mainz rather than Samp next season – got nine goals each, Adli got six and Scalvini scored five. Adli got an impressive 14 assists, followed by Neto (1), Cherki (6) and Rayan Ait-Nouri (5). And 10 players finished with average ratings above 7.00, which represents a huge improvement on previous seasons.
Samp’s under 20s won the U20 Primavera for the third year in a row led by exciting striker Edvin Ekenhard’s 18 goals and midfielder Welmo’s 20 assists at a 7.70 average rating.
A look around Europe
Man City dominated the Premier League, on 91 points some 16 clear of Man UFC, led by Haaland’s 22 goals and 7.72 average rating. Real Madrid claimed La Liga back from Barca, winning the league by seven points from Atletico and Barca.
PSG won Ligue 1 but only on goal difference from Monaco, Bayern won the Bundesliga by 15 points from Dortmund, Benfica won Liga NOS fby seve points from Porto. Ajax took Eredivise back from Feyenoord, wining the league by a massive 26 points from Sparta Rotterdam with Feyenoord in fifth and PSV bizarrely down in 12th!
English domination prevailed in Europe ad Chelsea won the Champions League on penalties after a bonkers 4-4 draw with Bayern and Tottenham won the Europa League, beating Lyon 3-0. That must be a bug?
Join us next time for a fifth, and possibly final, season in Sampdoria as Roberto di Lazaró looks to bridge the gap to a dominant Inter Milan.
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