TURIN, ITALY - JULY 21: Nicola Pozzi of UC Sampdoria reacts during the pre-season friendly match between UC Sampdoria and Savona FBC on July 21, 2012 in Bardonecchia near Turin, Italy. (Photo by Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images)
Sampdoria won promotion to Serie A through the playoffs last season -- but does the squad have what it takes to stay in the top division?
After a season down in Serie B, Sampdoria are back in the top division of Italian football. But do they have what it takes to stay up this time around, or will 'Doria be bouncing back and forth for a few years yet?
6th, Serie B. Earned promotion through the playoffs, eventually beating Varese 1-0 to return to Serie A.
Uh, no one, really. Most thought Andrea Poli would wind up at Inter Milan, where he spent last season, but he's headed back to Sampdoria. So, in a way, he's actually "in." Unless, of course, Juventus cash in on the fact that they technically own him, in which case...oh, it makes the head spin.
Ciro Ferrara: Former coach of the Italian U-21 side, the Neapolitan started at Napoli and finished with Juve. He coached the azzurrini for nearly two years before being wooed away to Sampdoria, replacing Giuseppe Iachini, the manager who guided the team to promotion. What rewards Italian football brings!
Marcelo Estigarribia: The Paraguayan winger is "on loan" from Deportivo Maldonado (we won't get into the sketchiness of this club). Estigarribia spent last season at Juventus, where he failed to make much of an impact. Guess Ferrara's hoping he'll have a bit more luck in the blue and red.
Maxi Lopez: Sampdoria are crossing their fingers and toes with the arrival of Lopez on loan from Catania -- he was close to useless at AC Milan last season, but was almost a star in Sicily. Clearly they're hoping for the latter.
Keep An Eye On
Andrea Poli. The young midfielder just made his debut for the senior Azzurri squad in the friendly against England. He appeared in nearly half the nerazzurri matches last season, scoring his only goal in that crazy 5-4 match against Genoa. But for Samp, it's the goals against Genoa that matter most, and it's those he'll need to keep scoring.
Nicola Pozzi: Lopez might have the more recognizable name, but Pozzi could very well be Samp's most successful forward next season. Their top scorer with 16 in Serie B last season, it's not very far-fetched to say their campaign hinges on his goals.
Relegation zone. This just doesn't look like a team strong enough to stay up. But then again, they did beat Barcelona.