Having seen off inter-city rivals Genoa in midweek, Sampdoria are now presented with yet another big match just five days later when the Bianconeri turn up at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris on Sunday evening.
While such fixtures to start the New Year might have seemed a daunting prospect to some teams, Blucerchiati manager Vincenzo Montella explained how they were, on the contrary, excited by the challenge of pitting their wits against the reigning champions.
He began: “A lot has been said about the derby, perhaps too much. Now we need to be fully focused on tomorrow’s encounter.
“Juve is a team that doesn’t give you much time or space on the ball. We know how tough it will be to play against them, but it’s definitely a game that we’re pumped up for.”
Montella’s men have witnessed an upturn in fortunes recently, picking up seven points in their last three Serie A outings.
Nevertheless, the 41-year-old warned against complacency, urging his side to be particularly alert to the aerial threat posed by a Bianconeri outfit that have scored the second highest number of headers in the league this season (seven), while his own team are still without a goal from corners.
“We’ve made some important steps forward of late, but tomorrow we’ll need to be on our toes at all time, as any lapse in concentration could be extremely costly.
“They’re physically a strong side with plenty of height amongst their ranks and therefore dangerous from set pieces. We’re not one of the tallest sides, so we need to be intelligent in how we go about our business.”
Asked about the reasons behind their positive streak of results following the three defeats with which Montella began his career in the Sampdoria dugout, the former Fiorentina coach pointed to his charges’ ability to vary up their approach according to the situation.
“It’s crucial to make the most of your strengths, but things can change, of course, depending on the nature of the match, the opposition and style of play. But the boys are picking things up quickly and carrying out my instructions to good effect.”
Meanwhile, one player that Montella’s opposite number, Massimiliano Allegri, will have singled out for special attention is Antonio Cassano.
The experienced forward is currently enjoying a fine run of form that culminated in him providing all three assists for Sampdoria in Tuesday’s victory over Genoa.
“Antonio is one of a select few footballers who almost actually prefer to set up goals for their team-mates than to score themselves. He’s getting back to a good level of fitness, putting in consistent performances, and he’s determined to keep improving.”