Sampdoria v Juventus Match Preview & Screening

Another week, another disappointing victory for Juventus. But at least the three points come regularly these days, unlike at the start of the season. And the Bianconeri builds some leeway in the Champions League race. They’ll never excel on style points, but until they’re consistently successful, all is well in the hood.

Surely, it would be better to seal games early rather than playing with fire all the time. Still, it’s hard to expect more than the bare minimum due to Massimiliano Allegri’s usual style and the fact that the team are stretched thin with all the injuries. Better game management would be very beneficial, but it has been a problem for several years now.

For example, Juventus had Spezia on the ropes in the first half last week. However, instead of going for the jugular, they dropped the pace and just held the ball aimlessly. Then the opponents turned it on and nearly leveled a game that should have been on the books after 45 minutes. Sometimes, opportunities are to be seized and it is counterproductive not to exploit them just to save energy. The fact that Dusan Vlahovic, who leads the league in shots, didn’t have a single attempt is a blemish that will never be remembered.

On more positive notes, the defense and Wojciech Szczesny are moving in the right direction. Arthur and Manuel Locatelli’s partnership has paid off. The latter provided great help and, while he was useful in the deeper role, he has the potential to be properly brilliant from yards away and with more freedom. He was never a pure deep playmaker, and it wouldn’t be advisable to make one. His stamina and physical skills are adept at a more mobile and hard-hitting stance.

Locatelli’s first role was probably conceived out of necessity. Arthur hadn’t really presented himself consistently until recent weeks, and the former Sassuolo man is much better with the ball on his feet than Rodrigo Bentancur. But the current trend could, and probably should, alter future transfer market strategies. It would be foolish to think that the midfielder can stay as it is now or that the former Barcelona player can last a whole season. It might be better to look for a register rather than a flashy box-to-box. Ideally, both pieces will be added in the summer, but that’s neither here nor there.

The infirmary empties slightly because Alex Sandro and Mattia De Sciglio are available. The latter thinks he has a better chance of starting since his problem was less delicate, but Luca Pellegrini remains the favorite at left-back. Juan Cuadrado took care of the flu for a few days, but he’s good to go. Marley Aké will eventually replace him in the XI since Federico Bernardeschi is suspended. Vlahovic’s rest threat seems to be more serious than in the last matches.

Expected composition

Juventus (4-4-2): Szczesny; Danilo, Rugani, De Light, Pellegrini; Cuadrado, Arthur, Locatelli, Rabiot; Vlahovic, Morata.

Absent: Chiesa (ACL tear)Bonucci (calf pull), Dybala (thigh injury) Chiellini (calf sprain), McKennie (foot fracture), Kaio Jorge (patellar tendon tear)Bernardeschi (hanging).

Sampdoria enjoyed a small new coaching bump when they fired Roberto D’Aversa to appoint Marco Giampaolo, but that was short-lived. They picked up two valuable and surprisingly impressive wins against Sassuolo and Empoli at home, but they continued to flounder on the road. This prevented them from building any kind of momentum. They are just four points clear of 18th-placed Venezia and the main rivals are one game short.

They will probably somehow avoid relegation as they have more quality and experience than most of their competitors. Still, it remains a disappointing season, and they will have to work hard to get out of the hole they find themselves in, as they have lost in seven of the last nine games. The legal troubles of their owners did not really make it possible to maintain the necessary serenity.

It is uncertain whether the current boss will be the one to get them out of this predicament. Choosing him was understandable because he knows the surroundings well and has had very good seasons here. On the other hand, it remains a strange decision because of its style. Relegation wrestlers usually go for rah-rah gaffers when making a mid-season change. Instead, Giampaolo is a finesse guy, and his style rarely works in these positions.

Some teams manage to rise with a fluid, fast and technique-oriented brand of football, but it’s rare that this happens after a fairly late change of manager. At least they got it right, bringing in the new manager while the transfer market was open and making some sensible changes to the roster.

Stefano Sensi and Abdelhamid Sabiri are good companions and immediately made great outings. The former, in particular, has a very high ceiling as a No. 10 if he could ever stay healthy for multiple games in a row. The newcomer from Ascoli was arguably the best player in Serie B and could easily become a wise investment even if he doesn’t make a significant impact this season.

They were using an odd 4-4-2, with Morten Thorsby on the flank, or 3-5-2 before Giampaolo came to town. Now they deploy a 4-3-1-2 and occasionally a three-man defense when they want to defend or are too shorthanded up front. Sensi has added some passing acumen, but the team’s main driving force remains Antonio Candreva, who is one of the most productive passers and passers in the League.

Manolo Gabbiadini suffering from a torn ACL hurt them hugely as he was their most consistent and physical striker. Francesco Caputo and Fabio Quagliarella are crafty but sometimes struggle to keep the ball in front as they get gobbled up by opposing centre-backs. They’re also not the fastest cats, so their counterattacks aren’t precisely searing, though they both have perfect vision and IQ, which can lead to some surprising combinations. Vladyslav Supryaha was somewhat touted before joining, but the transition was slow for him.

The main doubt surrounding Giampaolo’s return is whether his tactics could work without a proper midfielder maestro. Albin Ekdal is useful, but it’s not Lucas Torreira, who captained his previous iterations of Sampdoria, or Leandro Paredes, who pulled the strings when he captained Empoli. Absent that, the manager limped away at Turin last campaign. Candreva and Sensi help a lot in this regard, but the rise in power is not very smooth, especially because their defenders are not specialists in this field.

They have savvy veterans across the roster, and they’re pretty solid at the back given the towering Omar Colley and the recent return of Maya Yoshida, as well as the brilliance of Wladimiro Falcone between the sticks. Although Quagliarella and Caputo are no longer the forces they used to be, they should have enough goals to propel them forward.

On the other hand, the combativeness which characterizes the clubs in this situation has been lacking. They weren’t exactly a serious team even with D’Aversa on the bench. Sometimes they had a glass jaw once they went down early in the score. They have struggled exceptionally against big clubs, although they have recently stayed close to Milan and Napoli, while losing.

Expected composition

Sampdoria (4-3-1-2): Falcone; Bereszynski, Yoshida, Colley, Augello; Candreva, Ekdal, Thorsby; Sensi; Quagliarella, Caputo.

Absent: Damsgaard (knee infection), Gabbiadini (ACL tear), Murru (suspension).

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