08.01.2016 19.00 - in: Serie A S

      Ten things to know about #SampJuve

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      From past encounters and last minute goals to Scudetto on-pitch parties, here are ten not so key facts to know about Sunday’s Serie A encounter with Vincenzo Montella’s Sampdoria
      1) Never simple at Samp

      Nothing builds up your confidence like eight successive league victories but Juve will need to be at their very best to silence the Sampdoria faithful on Sunday evening.

      Although such a cliché is wheeled out before the majority of the season’s important fixtures, few grounds can boast an atmosphere as menacing as that of the compact and historic Stadio Luigi Ferraris, a home crowd that the Bianconeri have succeeded in taming only recently.

      While this weekend’s hosts have a better record than most on home turf against the champions, winning 21 and losing 25 of their previous 65 encounters in Genoa, the Blucerchiati have won just twice in 13 outings against them at the Marassi in May 2013 (3-2) and December 1995 (2-0). 

      Statistics however can say whatever you want them to. On the other side of the coin, before winning three of her last four encounters with Samp, the Old Lady had tasted victory just once in 10 between 2008 and 2013, a run which featured two 3-3 draws and a rare 2-1 reverse at Juventus Stadium in January 2013. 

      2) Mr.Montella

      When a prospective employer travels to see you in Rome and waits for hours outside your front door to try and convince you to join his team, it can be very difficult to say no, particularly if you were once a legendary striker of said club.

      Vincenzo Montella scored 54 times in his three years in the blue of Sampdoria

      So the story of Vincenzo Montella’s appointment as Sampdoria boss goes anyway.

      Thankfully for chairman Massimo Ferrero, Montella said yes and the ex-Roma and Fiorentina boss has made a steady start to life in the Blucerchiati dugout, collecting a pair of wins - both of which came in the last two league matches against Genoa and Palermo - and a trio of defeats since November. 

      Standing across from him on the touchline on Sunday will be Massimiliano Allegri, a man who he trails by one place in the points per game standings (Allegri currently sits in fourth with an average of 1.82 from 260 top-flight games with Montella in fifth on 1.63 from 171).

      Unsurprisingly the two highly rated coaches have been difficult to separate, earning a couple of wins apiece in their eight previous meetings. 

      3) Scudetto by the sea

      A couple of curiosities of the calendar in the last 40 years or so have seen Juventus seal two Scudetto titles, numbers 17 and 33, in Sampdoria’s backyard in 1977 and 2015. 

      Arturo Vidal’s first-half effort to bag the trophy last season was a neat finish that required astute movement and no little composure to nod home the back post but for both importance and quality it pales into significance next to Roberto Bettega’s superb backheel 38 years previously. 

      While such title permutations will not apply to this next encounter, another success on the sea on Sunday could see the Bianconeri leapfrog Fiorentina and Inter into top spot for the first time this season. Just saying. 

      4) Eder or Dybala?

      Such a question will have caused countless sleepless nights for Fantacalcio players during the last two years and this weekend’s clash will see the face-off between two of the division’s most prolific strikers, Eder Citadin Martins and Paulo Dybala. 

      Out of favour at Empoli and following loan spells at Brescia and Cesena before arriving at Sampdoria in 2012, naturalised Italian Eder is now enjoying the most fruitful spell of his career.

      In a side that until recently had been flirting dangerously with the relegation places, the forward has scored 11 times (one fewer than his record of 12 for a season), putting him firmly in the frame for a place in Antonio Conte’s Italy squad for the upcoming European Championships, a feat that seemed nearly impossible just over a season ago.

      Fellow South American Dybala however has matched him stride for stride and will enter Sunday’s game in far superior form, taking his own personal tally to nine following Wednesday’s excellent free-kick against Verona.


      Dybala's early free-kick against Verona was his fifth in seven Serie A matches

      That effort was the seventh goal in as many matches to have been either scored or assisted by the Argentine. Eder on the other hand, has found the net just twice since early November. 

      We know who we would go for...

      5) How will Samp set up?
      New boss Montella has largely stuck with the 4-3-3 system inherited from previous coach Walter Zenga
      6) Home is where the heart is

      Built in 1911, with its square structure and the proximity of the stands to the pitch, Sunday’s venue could well have been dissembled like a piece of Ikea furniture and airlifted over the English Channel, such is its resemblance to a traditional British ground. 

      With characteristics conducive to a raucous atmosphere and a fanatical home support, it should come as no surprise that Samp are traditionally very strong on their own turf.

      Indeed, 18 of their 23 Serie A points this season have come at the Luigi Ferraris, which as it happens has seen 29 league goals this term, a record shared with Frosinone’s Stadio Matusa. 

      7) Not over until the Old Lady sings

      If there’s one lesson to be learned from the Bianconeri’s 2015/16 campaign thus far, it’s that a game isn’t over until the Old Lady sings: although the result had effectively already been decided, Simone Zaza’s late strike on Wednesday was his side’s ninth to be scored in the final 15 minutes of a tie this season. 

      Sampdoria have had a fair share of late drama themselves, finding the net seven times between minutes 75 and 90. Together, the two teams have mustered a total of 34 second-half goals between them. Don’t leave before the end. 

      8) Sharing is caring

      While the aforementioned Eder has been undoubted bright spot in an otherwise tricky start to the campaign, the 29-year old is one of only six players (Roberto Soriano, Eder, Luis Muriel, Ervin Zukanovic, Fernando and David Ivan) to get on the scoresheet for Vincenzo Montella’s side this term, the third lowest spread in the division. 

      Fernando, Ivan and Soriano (all pictured) are three of just six Samp players to find the net this season

      Meanwhile, 11 different Bianconeri players have collected goal bonuses since August, second only to Roma (13). 

      9) Shoot on sight or wait until it's right

      Perhaps one reason for the Blucerchiati’s general timidity in front of goal has been their patience and willingness to wait for the perfect moment at which to shoot.

      While their total of 197 efforts is one of the lowest in the league, the proportion of them that are on target (48%) and result in a goal (13%) is among the highest. 

      Paul Pogba has attempted more shots than any other Juve player (54) this term.

      Contrasting with Samp’s precision, Juve have taken the second highest number of shots (293) behind Napoli (304) with the seventh weakest rate of accuracy (39%). 

      10) Down and out

      For a side that scores the majority of its goals in the closing stages of matches, you may be surprised to hear that Sampdoria have failed to win on all ten of the occasions in which they have fallen behind this season, registering three draws and seven defeats.

      Juve on the other hand, have picked up almost half of their league victories so far from losing positions (four), for a total of 13 points. The first goal on Sunday could be crucial. 

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