Lesser-fancied European Teams to watch this season #4 - Sampdoria
With the new European football season fast approaching here is a team from the Italian Serie A you may to want to watch out for in U.C. Sampdoria.
The team nicknamed the Blue-Circles or I Blucerchiati have in the last three seasons have been in the hunt for qualification for Europe but have fallen short in those three seasons, with two tenth place finishes and a ninth place last season.
Based in Genoa, and now managed by former Roma manager Eusebio Di Francesco, after former manager Marco Giampaolo was snapped up by A.C Milan, Sampdoria have only had one relegation in this century, and have become a staple of the Italian first division.
However if you have heard of Sampdoria, especially last season, it would have been because of one name - Fabio Quagliarella. People have compared to a fine Italian wine which has become better with age.
The 36-year-old Italian equalled a 24-year-old record, as well as comfortably beating one of the greatest on the planet, Cristiano Ronaldo, to the Italian Golden Boot or the Capocannoniere.
Quagliarella who started his career at Torino, scored 26 goals and assisted 8 goals which amounts to 34 goals, more than half of Sampdoria's goals last season and the most goal contributions in the league as well.
He also equalled the record set by Gabriel Batistuta of scoring in consecutive games by scoring in 11 straight games last season.
The blue team from Genoa under Giampaolo played with two strikers quite regularly last season which was usually Quagliarella and the Frenchman Grégoire Defrel, who was the only other player to score more than 10 goals last season.
The team possess some familiar players as well such as former Southampton players of Gaston Ramirez and Manolo Gabbiadini, with the latter competing with Defrel and Quagliarella to start.
Sampdoria are very well known for having technical yet tenacious central midfielders as Giampaolo played a narrow 4-3-1-2 in his tenure. A huge example was Lucas Torreira who has since been a regular at Arsenal with his tenacious tackling. Sampdoria still have that in Belgian Dennis Praet who has been linked with a move to the Premier League with Leicester this window.
In terms of transfers, they have strengthened in defence and in goal, in order to reduce the 51 goals they conceded last season, the worst in the top nine. In goal they have signed Emil Audero from Juventus for around £18 million to fight Rafael for the number one spot.
They have also signed three defenders in Alex Ferrari (Bologna), Fabio Depaoli (Chievo) and Julian Chabot (FC Groningen).
However the big transfer from Sampdoria is the permanent signing of Czech international Jakub Jankto from Udinese who impressed for Sampdoria last season and hopefully can start more games compared to his 19 substitute appearances out of the 28 games he played last season.
Sampdoria should have the talent in their squad to avoid being part of the relegation battle this year especially if Quagliarella continues to age like the fine Italian wine. However with a new manager who has experience of being in Europe in Di Francesco, I Blucerchiati may be able to dream of Europe.