Unione Calcio Sampdoria, founded in 1893, is part of the International Bureau of Cultural Capitals as the oldest club in Italy.
The Ligurians, who share home ground Stadio Luigi Ferraris with Derby della Lanterna rivals Genoa, have an illustrious history, having won the very first Italian championship (which was in those days a one day competition) and many more trophies besides.
Their first championship was won in a simple black jersey, but after the death of Queen Victoria in 1901 they adopted the colours of the Union Jack flag and have worn them ever since.
1990/91 is a season that holds wonderful memories for Sampdoria fans as the year of the club’s first Scudetto win. The Blucerchiati, with Gianluca Vialli (the league’s top scorer) and Roberto Mancini in the starting line-up, led from the outset, and Vujadin Boskov’s men ensured the trophy with one weekend to spare.
As well as lifting the league title in 1991, the Blucerchiati have been victorious in four Coppa Italia competitions, a Cup Winners’ Cup and an Italian Super Cup. Sampdoria also reached the European Cup final back in 1992 but were beaten by Spanish giants Barcelona 1-0 after extra time.
Following a nine-season stay in Italy’s top flight, the Blucerchiati – who had qualified for the Champions League playoff round only a year earlier – were relegated to Serie B in 2011 after a miserable run of results culminated in a 2-1 home defeat to Palermo.
It didn’t take long for them to return to the big time, however, as they made the step up to Serie A through the playoffs after beating Varese 4-2 on aggregate in the final. The success was made even sweeter because Sampdoria became the first club in Serie B history outside of third place to win the playoff after having initially finished the season in sixth.
During the last two campaigns, the Blucerchiati have finished in 14th and 12th place respectively and became only the second team (after Inter) to beat the Bianconeri in the league at the newly-built Juventus Stadium.
The Stadio Luigi Ferraris is the oldest stadium in Italy that is still in use, having been inaugurated in 1911. Originally named Stadio Comunale di Via del Piano (and also known colloquially as the Stadio Marassi due to the area where it is), it took on the name of former Genoa captain Luigi Ferraris in 1933.
It has been the home of Sampdoria as well as Genoa since 1946, and after being rebuilt for the four matches it hosted in the 1990 FIFA World Cup it now seats 36,599.
Club captain Daniele Gastaldello is now in his eighth season at the club since signing from Siena. A member of Juventus Primavera’s Torneo di Viareggio-winning side back in 2003, the centre-back has now made over 200 appearances for the Genoa-based outfit. He also debuted for the Italy national team during a 2-0 friendly victory over Ukraine in Kiev three years ago.
Likened in his style of play to Bianconeri defender Giorgio Chiellini, left-back Vasco Regini is now in his second spell at the club after re-signing for Sampdoria from Empoli back in 2013. The 24-year-old was part of the Azzurrini squad that finished runners-up to eventual champions Spain at the UEFA European Under-21 championship held in Israel last year.
Lorenzo De Silvestri is an attacking full-back with great strength. The 26-year-old started his playing career with local side Lazio – with whom he won the Coppa Italia in 2009 – before moving to Fiorentina and subsequently Sampdoria in 2012. Capped twice by the Azzurri, he is suspended for Sunday’s game at Juventus Stadium.
Thirty-three-year-old vice-captain Angelo Palombo keeps things ticking at the heart of midfield. He has made over 400 appearances for Sampdoria in a 12 season spell and also enjoyed an unfruitful loan stint with Inter back in 2012. Palombo is a tough tackler and possesses great passing ability.
Spanish midfielder Pedro Obiang continues to catch the eye after consistently stringing strong performances together in the middle of the park. Blessed with an extraordinary athleticism and ability in breaking up opposition attacks, his progress is said to be being tracked by a number of European clubs and he regularly provides assists for his team-mates.
Eder Citadin Martins, commonly known as Eder, is a Brazilian forward who also holds an Italian passport. He began his career with Criciuma in his native country before leaving for Empoli in 2005. Able to play in either the attacking midfield role or as the main striker, the 28-year-old is now at his fifth Italian club and already has four league goals in the Blucerchiati jersey so far.
Manolo Gabbiadini – who is currently on a co-ownership deal from Juventus – is an exciting young striker with a venomous left foot that hails from Calcinate in Lombardy. He signed for the Bianconeri back in 2012 but has spent the last three seasons with Bologna and Sampdoria. He’ll be the dangerman come Sunday with five strikes and two assists to his name already this season.
Having made his way through the Roma youth system, powerful forward Stefano Okaka has been on the Serie A scene since making his professional debut as a mere 16-year-old back in 2005. Now 25, he has played for a whole host of Italian sides as well as English outfit Fulham and scored his first goal for the Azzurri on his full debut in a friendly against Albania at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris last month.
Shotstopper Emiliano Viviano arrives on a season-long loan deal from Palermo and has already established himself as the club’s undisputed number one. The 29-year-old spent the 2013/14 campaign with Premier League giants Arsenal but never made a competitive appearance.
Former AC Milan wingback Djamel Mesbah has penned a two-year contract after struggling to hold a first-team place during his solitary season with Parma. The Algerian international brings a wealth of experience and is now at his seventh Italian club.
Argentinean defender Matias Silvestre will spend this season at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris on loan from Inter. The 30-year-old is very nifty with the ball his feet and is known for his expert aerial ability. Silvestre won eight titles during his time with Boca Juniors in his native country.
Former Bianconeri midfielder Marco Marchionni will now ply his trade with Sampdoria after also swapping Emilia Romagna for Genoa alongside Mesbah in the summer. He spent two seasons with Juventus from 2007 to 2009, scoring twice in 38 appearances. The 34-year-old is famous for his dribbling and crossing ability.
Following Catania’s relegation to Serie B last time out, much travelled striker Gonazalo Bergessio arrives at Sampdoria after scoring 37 times in three seasons for the Sicily-based outfit. He bagged his first goal in a Blucerchiati jersey during their 2-0 Coppa Italia success over Brescia in early December.
Going the other way, Maxi Lopez has signed for Chievo on a one-year deal and Sampdoria will miss the former Champions League winner’s flair.
Elsewhere, English Championship side Leeds have taken Swiss fullback Gaetano Berardi to Elland Road whilst World Cup winner Shkodran Mustafi has left for La Liga outfit Valencia after two seasons in Genoa.
And finally, 21-year-old Jose Campana – a summer signing from Crystal Palace in the Premier League – has immediately been farmed out on a season-long loan to Portuguese heavyweights Porto.
Sampdoria are led by Sinisa Mihajlovic, a Serbian defender during his playing days who holds the all-time Serie A free-kick record with 28 goals scored during his 14 seasons in Italy’s top flight.
He initially began his career with Borovo in 1986 before joining Vojvodina and Red Star Belgrade, winning the Yugoslav First League (as it was known back then) and European Cup with the latter.
Roma came calling in 1992 and he spent two seasons with the Giallorossi ahead of signing for Sampdoria with whom he made over a centenary of appearances in four years.
But it was with Lazio where he enjoyed considerable success, winning Serie A, two Coppa Italia titles, two Italian Super Cups, a UEFA Cup Winners Cup and the UEFA Super Cup during a six-year spell.
Mihajlovic then joined Inter in 2004 and after ending his playing career with the Nerazzurri, he became assistant coach to old friend Roberto Mancini.
After Mancini was sacked in 2008 to be replaced by Jose Mourinho, Mihajlovic embarked on his own managerial career with relegation-threatened Bologna but was relieved of his duties in April the following year after a run of poor results left them fighting for their lives.
He wasn’t out of work for long, however, as Catania appointed him new head coach in December 2009 and he even masterminded a 2-1 victory over Juventus in Turin whilst in charge. The Sicilians finished that Serie A season in 13th but the Serb resigned to take up the vacant post at Fiorentina.
Fresh from leading the Viola to a ninth place finish in his maiden campaign at the helm, Mihajlovic was dismissed in November 2011 after a 1-0 loss away at Chievo had left Fiorentina with only 12 points from their opening 10 matches.
A one-year spell as head coach of the Serbia national team followed before Sampdoria named him as Delio Rossi’s replacement back in November 2013. During his first season, he successfully steered a struggling Blucerchiati outfit away from the relegation zone and to a 12th-place finish.
Sampdoria have begun this 2014/15 campaign in fine form with six victories, seven draws and only one defeat to their name so far. Mihajlovic’s charges currently sit fourth in the table, a point off arch-rivals Genoa who occupy the third and final Champions League spot.