Dormant Doria Get Relegation Wake-Up Call
With city rivals Genoa flying high in the hunt for the Champions League, it is proving a far tougher season for struggling Sampdoria. Walter Mazzarri’s men are a competitive outfit, but as they struggle to balance their Cup exploits with the demands of the League, they now find themselves perilously close to the drop-zone.
Sunday’s encounter away to Inter was typical of their league form this season. After a solid first half performance, the Blucerchiati went into the break 1-0 down and with little to show for their efforts. In the closing stages, Mazzarri’s men were clearly on top of the Italian Champions but they failed to capitalise on a numerous attempts on goal.
After being starved of a league win now for over a month, Sampdoria need their forwards to start firing and help edge them away from the stark reality of a possible relegation dogfight. Whilst the Blucerchiati cannot do anything about the possibility of their city rivals playing in Europe next season, they must do everything to make sure they themselves are not playing in Serie B.
With the arrival of a tormented Lazio side, Sampdoria have a perfect opportunity to jump-start their season, and start climbing back up the standings.
Eagles Taking A Nosedive
There is a growing air of discontent on blue side of the capital following Lazio’s dismal display last Sunday at the Olimpico. It was not so much the defeat, but the manner in which the Biancocelesti hit the self-destruct button, which is a grave cause for concern. With an opportunity to make a huge step forward and move to within two points of fourth, Lazio yet again flattered to deceive. Instead, they were taught a lesson in how to play with a trident attack, by a Cagliari side that scored with their first four attempts on goal.
Large sections of the Aquile supporters have begun to contest their side for a number of reasons, but largely because they continually fail to make the step up in key games this season. A negative trend that started in the game with Bologna and re-appeared against Roma and Cagliari, shows Lazio lack the psychological edge in games that have added significance concerning the standings. As a result, many are now questioning Delio Rossi’s hold on the side and Tommaso Rocchi’s stature as a captain.
The encounter with Sampdoria could prove to be a crossroads for Lazio’s campaign. If Delio Rossi’s men can dust themselves off from the Sunday’s mauling, and put in a winning performance, than an air of tranquillity may return to the capital. However if the Biancocelesti again flatter to deceive with a poor performance at the Marassi, it could signal the beginning of another set of negative results.
In view of the upcoming fixtures against Milan and Fiorentina, Lazio must re-group immediately, if they are to keep hold any hopes of Euro dreams.
25 January: Inter 1-0 Sampdoria
21 January: Udinese 1-1 Sampdoria (2-5 on Penalties, Coppa Italia)
18 January: Sampdoria 0-2 Palermo
11 January: Udinese 1-1 Sampdoria
21 December: Sampdoria 0-1 Fiorentina
25 January: Lazio 1-4 Cagliari
22 January: Lazio 3-1 Torino (Coppa Italia)
18 January: Lazio 1-1 Juventus
11 January: Reggina 2-3 Lazio
22 December: Lazio 1-0 Palermo
Walter Mazzarri has huge selection problems ahead of the midweek encounter. Paolo Sammarco and Giampaolo Pazzini are set to miss out through suspension. More concerning is the possibility of a very weakened backline with Pietro Accardi, Hugo Campagnaro, Andrea Raggi and Daniele Gastaldello all nursing injuries. The small ray of light for the Sampdoria coach is the return of Antonio Cassano
Probable Starting XI (3-5-2): Castellazzi; Lucchini, Palombo, Stankevicius; Pieri, Delvecchio, Franceschini, Dessena, Padalino; Bellucci, Cassano
Delio Rossi must decide whether to confirm the team that was humiliated on Sunday or make wholesale changes to the side. As Lazio have no fresh injury worries, it looks likely he will drop the trident to give more balance to his side. Fabio Firmani has picked up a two-match ban for his touchline rant against Cagliari.
Probable Starting XI (4-3-1-2): Carrizo; Radu, Siviglia, Cribari, Lichtsteiner; Ledesma, Dabo, Meghni; Mauri; Zarate, Pandev
Players To Watch
Antonio Cassano’s return from injury could not come at a more pressing time for the Blucerchiati. Totò was clearly missed in the defeat to Inter, and has often proved a catalyst to his side’s form over the past year. He will want to put in a strong performance on Wednesday evening to heave Samp out of their current slump.
New arrival Stephan Lichtsteiner has been somewhat of a revelation for Lazio this season after his summer transfer from Lille. Nicknamed ‘Forrest Gump’ by the Biancocelesti faithful for his tireless running up and down the flank, the Swiss international is highly tipped to become a future Lazio captain. Following the teams’ terrible display against Cagliari, he was the only player to brave the media and publicly apologise.
Both sides will be desperate to record a win, yet at the same time be wary of another damaging defeat. In seasons past, this fixture at the Marassi has been a low scoring, cagey affair. I think both teams are capable of a narrow win, but with so much hanging on this game, a draw is most likely.
Sampdoria 1-1 Lazio
Stefano Federici, Goal.com