Sempre Samp | Part 11: Chasing The Scudetto

At the halfway mark of the Serie A 2025/26 season, Roberto di Lazaró had led his Sampdoria side to the top of the league and enjoyed a six-point lead over Inter Milan. That meant a first Scudetto since 1991 was within sight with 21 games remaining.

The manager was keen to have a fairly quiet January transfer window, but that was easier said than done as Europe’s finest were all after his best players. Real Madrid and Man City put in bids for star striker Cosimo Marco Da Graca, which prompted another big new contract, and the likes of Real, Atletico, Bayern and Hertha put in substandard bids for star midfielder Andreas Schjelderup. However, midfielder Kristoffer Askildsen did move to Barcelona for £15 million and the inconsistent Rayan Cherki joined Real Madrid for £33 million.

That left a huge gap in midfield, so di Lazaró brought in Gustavo Assuncao for £18.5 million from AC Milan. He then took a bit of a gamble on replacing Cherki with Belgian wonderkid Jonathan Dubois, for whom he met a £27 million release clause, and bolstered his defence with left-back Raphael Guerreiro for £6 million from Barcelona.

Strong start to 2026

In what feels like an annual tradition the new year began at home to Atalanta – in what was the first game played in the full version of FM22. Samp came out flying as Schjelderup bagged a brace and an assist in a 5-0 rout. However, they then got battered 3-1 at Sassuolo before three goals from corners through giant winger Charles De Ketelaere, defender Anel Ahmedhozic and midfielder Simón García’s first league goal for the club earned a 3-1 win at struggling Fiorentina. A third successive away game took them to next-to-bottom Verona, who raced into a 2-0 lead. But a stunning turnaround inspired by a 17-minute Cosimo hat-trick, which ended his seven-game goalless streak, and potentially a stray water bottle at half-time saw Samp win 3-2.

Back on home ground, Samp gifted Napoli an undeserved last-minute equaliser. Then they welcomed Roma to town and new boy Dubois – who signed on 1 February – bagged a brace on debut the next day to seal a 2-0 win. What a signing! Cosimo then scored two more, the first of which was his 100th for Samp, and Dubois was player of the match again in a 3-0 Lanterna Derby win at Genoa.

Despite the solid start to the year, Inter and Milan had been relentless and closed the gap to three and four points respectively. That put huge pressure on Samp entertaining Milan, which turned out to be a relatively dull affair. Cosimo had a goal disallowed just before half-time and Gavin Bazunu made two massive saves in injury-time to keep Milan out, earn player of the match and a 0-0.

Milan then won the big derby 2-0 at home to Inter the day before Samp drew 2-2 at Torino. But they returned to winning ways 3-1 at home to Bologna then 5-2 at 10-man Empoli, while Inter lost 4-0 at Bologna and Milan drew at home to Udinese.

Europa League knockouts knock out

di Lazaró decided to rest the first-team for the European knockout first round against Hoffenheim and an entire second 11 did well to draw at home but lost 4-1 in Germany.

Maintaining the title bid

Samp’s flying form left them four points clear of Milan and five ahead of Inter going into the final 10 games of the 2025/26 campaign. That alone was enough for the Samp board to hand di Lazaró another new contract that upped his weekly wage from £30,000 to £50,000 until 2030.

Samp celebrated the new deal with a 3-0 win over Parma, who had one shot, led by a De Ketelaere brace on the same day Milan lost at Atalanta. The two Belgian starlets earned a 2-0 win at bottom side Lecce before sneaking a 1-0 win in a wasteful performance at home to Monza. Inter somehow drew 1-1 at home to Lecce, which stretched Samp’s lead to seven points with seven to go.

A tougher test took them to fifth-place Lazio, where they’d won once in four attempts. They unsurprisingly fell behind to Immobile’s 30th goal of the season and 300th for Lazio but the two Belgians combined as Dubois equalised for a deserved draw. And Samp kicked on to batter out-of-form Frosinone 5-0 led by braces from Schjelderup and Dubois, who played a 10.0!

Title race heads to the wire

With five games to go, Samp still enjoyed a five-point lead over Inter and were seven clear of Milan. But their run-in was far from easy and began with an absolutely massive top-of-the-table clash.

Game 1 – Inter (home): A huge game between two Italian title favourites. Bound to be 0-0 right? Correct. Inter started brightly, hitting the bar in the first minute and forcing a good save out of Bazunu. But the game evened out and neither side really deserved to win a bit of a dull stalemate.

Game 2 – Juventus (away): A tough trip to Juve, who were down in seventh but just thumped Lazio 4-1 away, followed. Assuncao picked the perfect time to score his first goal for the club with an absolute screamer from 30 yards. Juve levelled just before the break with a pretty dubious free-kick routine that was taken in the box and a Samp player supposed to be blocking the cross went off the pitch (see below). But Samp’s quality shone as Schjelderup and Dubois earned them a 3-1 win. Inter and Milan also both won.

Game 3 – Atalanta (away): Another tough away day took Samp to Atalanta, who were surprisingly down in 11th. A bright start saw Dubois and Yacine Adli score in the first 13 minutes and they held Atalanta at arm’s length for an easy 2-0 win. Inter and Milan both won again, keeping the gap at five and seven points with two games to go – which meant Samp needed one point from two home games to become champions.

Game 4 – Udinese (home): A big chance to wrap up the title came at home to 15th-place Udinese. They again started superbly with Dubois drilling home after five minutes and doubled his tally nine minutes later only for Cutrone to immediately get one back. De Ketelaere picked up a knock but his replacement Daniel Lousada scored with his first touch to restore the two-goal advantage before Schjelderup teed up Cosimo for a fourth, which ended a 13-hour goal drought, and Ahmedhodzic headed home as Samp ran riot.

A 5-1 win meant Sampdoria were Champions of Italy for the first time since 1991 and only the second time ever!!

Samp celebrated their title win by entertaining Sassuolo and did so in style, dominating Sassuolo and winning 4-0 with goals from Assuncao, Cosimo and another Dubois double.

That ensured Samp finished on 94 points and won the league by five points from Inter, 10 clear of Milan and a huge 26 ahead of fourth-place Napoli! They were the top scorers in the league with a huge 94 goals and conceded 27. Dubois had the best rating in the league of 7.66 and got the second most player of the match with 7 in 16 games. Schjelderup got the most assists with 16 and a 7.59 average rating from 32 games, which broke his own Serie A full-season record.

Confusingly, Rafael Leao won Serie A Player of the Year despite not being named in the team of the year, which was dominated by Samp’s defence plus Schjelderup and De Ketelaere. And Samp won the intriguingly name Best Club of the Year award.

Season Review

This was an outstanding season in Sampdoria with several standout players. But special mention has to go to Dubois, who scored 12 and got three assists in 16 games since signing in January. This kid is already amazing but surely will become an absolute world-beater. Speaking of which, Schjelderup was fantastic again with 11 goals and 16 assists in 32 games. Summer signing De Ketelaere was crucial to the title win with 16 goals and 11 assists.

Cosimo top-scored with 23 goals plus seven assists, which took him to within 30 goals of Roberto Mancini’s all-time club record league goals tally. Ahmedhodzic chipped in with seven goals followed by García and Adli (5) and Giorgio Scalvini (4). While the impressive Josha Vagnoman, whose transfer value quadrupled in the last month, got nine assists from right-back.

The squad is also in exciting shape with 12 players of at least 4.5-star potential coming through the ranks. While the Under 20s won their league again and the Under 18s won theirs for the first time. So there’s plenty more to come from this flourishing Samp squad.

Meet the Sampdoria title winning heroes

With this being the end of the Sempre Samp save, I thought it’d be a good idea to show you the title-winning players that have led Sampdoria to glory. So feel free to scroll through the starting 11 of:

Bazunu; Vagnoman, Ahmedhodzic, Scalvini, Ait-Nouri; Schjelderup, Assuncao, Adli; Dubois, De Ketelaere; Cosimo

A look around Europe

Away from Samp’s success, other leagues around Europe were very predictable. Man City, Real Madrid, PSG, Ajax, Rangers and Bayern all retained their titles. The only slight surprise was Sporting winning their first title in five years. Liverpool won the Europa League, beating Atalanta 3-1 in the final to become the fourth successive English winner, and Chelsea won a third straight Champions League, beating Bayern on penalties.

And that brings Sempre Samp to a close. We’ve built a ridiculous team of exciting young prospects and I’m probably going to carry it on as an offline save alongside my FM22 main save, which began last week.

Thanks for reading and do join us for the ongoing main FM22 adventure!

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