Sinisa Mihajlovic, Sampdoria manager since November 2013, has changed previous boss Delio Rossi’s three-man defence to a four-man back-line for increased solidity, also introducing two holding midfielders into his 4-2-3-1 line-up.
It appears to have paid off, because since the former Blucerchiati player (1994-98) arrived in the dugout, the side have climbed from a position of real danger to a solid mid-table standing, in between Milan and Atalanta in 12th position.
Eder is Sampdoria’s top scorer with nine goals, and in fact he has netted five of the team’s last seven. The Brazilian has scored in various different ways this season: three from the spot, a tap-in, another by controlling a free-kick on his chest and a header to name a few.
His strike partner has usually been Manolo Gabbiadini, co-owned by Juventus. The dynamic between the two forwards has varied: whereas against struggling Udinese on Monday evening Gabbiadini took up the more advanced position, when the Blucerchiati faced the increased attacking threat of Napoli the Italian dropped back into midfield as Nenad Krsticic moved up front alongside Eder in a 4-4-2 formation.
It’s in the latter stages of matches that the Sampdoria attack has tended to come into its own: they haven’t once scored in the first 15 minutes and have netted just 32% of their goals this season in first halves.
Captain Angelo Palombo provides great experience, but Sampodria also have up-and-coming talent in their ranks: promising Under 21 Spanish international Pedro Obiang has been a regular starter (though he holds the unwelcome record of being the Serie A player who has had the most shots without scoring).
As far as defence is concerned, the Blucerchiati have managed just one clean sheet in the last 13 away trips, and no top-flight team has conceded more than the three goals from direct free-kicks that they have.