Welcoming Sampdoria

Posted by Mina Rzouki

It seems everything has just become too easy for Italian champions and current league leaders Juventus this season. Having broken a record as they amassed 11 consecutive victories, it's presumed and expected they will defeat Sampdoria on Saturday night as they've defeated all the sides before them.

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However, the Blucerchiati are not an easy side to overcome as evidenced by the fact the Bianconeri have only won once in the last six matches against the side.

Disciplined, organised and confident, Sampdoria have suffered this season, but seem to have regained their edge under current coach Sinisa Mihajlovic. One needs only to watch their performance against Napoli to understand the danger the carry.

Usually deployed in a 4-2-3-1 formation, in terms of style of play, Sampdoria aren't particularly thrilling at creating and finishing off chances from open play, but they are very efficient from set pieces. Both Eder and Manolo Gabbiadini have scored from free kicks and the club usually profit from most set piece situations, albeit directly or indirectly.

Eder has proved especially effective for the side and has shown his predatory nature. Quick-footed and able to pounce on loose balls or poor showings by the goalkeeper, he will take advantage of every error committed by the opponent. Capable of scoring from a set-piece, from a cross or via a simple tap-in, the player has already managed nine goals in 14 starting appearances for the club this season.

Defensively they are not at the best and have suffered to keep a clean sheet this season. While some individual errors have been made, their problem as a whole, as Mihajlovic conceded, has to do with the lack of cover the forward players provide. Strikers and attacking midfielders must work harder when not in possession to improve the side's defensive play and avoid conceding silly goals.

As for Juventus, it seems Andrea Pirlo will be given a rest and Claudio Marchisio will instead take his place on the pitch. After a terrific performance against Cagliari, it appears Conte will be trusting the Italian with the role in order to maintain a high tempo to the game. Confident and enthusiastic, it's up to Marchisio to provide the performances that will keep him in the starting line-up.

Thankfully, Andrea Barzagli is back to reprise his role in defence. While the team managed without him last weekend, the player's presence allows the team to feel secure going forward, aware of his value and brilliance at the back.

As for the transfer market, Conte conceded that with the work Napoli and Roma are doing on the market, it will be tough for Juventus to keep up and continue down this winning path as their closest challengers bolster their teams. With Europa League competition set to kick off soon, Juve will have to cope with arriving back in Italy on Fridays and competing in big matches on Sunday evening.

At times, they have been allowed to postpone matches to allow for more recovery time, but it's not always possible depending on the schedule at hand. However, the squad is big enough to deal with the pressure and Conte has proved that all his players, including those regularly found on the bench, are able to demonstrate their worth and integrate within the desired patterns of play when called upon.

Another Scudetto will go a long way into proving just how effective a side Conte has built during his time.

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