Serie A 2012-13 season review: Sampdoria re-establish themselves in the top flight

Valerio Pennicino

After winning promotion back to Serie A via the play-offs, Sampdoria were solid enough to finish at the lower end of the mid-table, giving them a good base on which to re-build.

14th; W11 D10 L17
UC Sampdoria

After returning to Serie A at the first attempt via the play-offs, this was always going to be a season of consolidation for Sampdoria, a year to aim for safety a few matches from home and come in a safe mid-table position. They achieved these modest aims, eventually finishing ten points above the relegation places and never really being involved in any kind of scrap at the bottom of the table, even briefly flirting with a top-half finish.

After sensationally beating AC Milan on the opening day, I Blucerchiati went unbeaten for their opening five matches, before then losing their next seven on the bounce. Their form equalled out after this and they still managed to take some decent scalps, going unbeaten against Milan and Roma and doing a sensational double over champions Juventus, the only team that Juve didn't manage to beat in the entire season. Their form did drop off towards the end - prior to their final-day victory over Juventus, their previous win came at the start of March however they managed enough draws to ensure they had already done enough to comfortably avoid relegation.

Most significant match:

Sampdoria 3-1 Genoa

After suffering the ignominy of being relegated by their hated city rivals on the final day of 2010-2011 and seeing Genoa's fans carry a coffin bearing their club crest out of the Luigi Ferraris and around the city, revenge was exacted in the first Derby Della Lanterna of the season. Genoa had far more in the way of possession and shots, however Andrea Poli gave Samp the lead which was then doubled after a Cesare Bovo own goal. Ciro Immobile struck for Genoa with 15 minutes remaining but Mauro Icardi (more on him later) cemented himself as a Sampdoria folk hero by scoring two minutes from time to exorcise the demons of their painful relegation.

Biggest surprise:

Mauro Icardi

Having been nurtured by Barcelona's famed youth academy and played alongside the likes of Messi, Busquets and Thiago Alcantara, 19 year-old Icardi was most definitely seen as a player for the future. Not really expected to feature regularly this season, his goal against Genoa as a substitute put his name out there before being thrust into first-team duty after a number of injuries. He performed with aplomb - two goals against Juventus in a January encounter in Turin took Samp to an historic victory before smashing four in a rout of lowly Pescara to cause a transfer scramble. He came full circle by scoring on the final-day victory over Juventus before Inter announced they would be signing him in the summer, an explosive season gaining him a move to one of the league's heavyweights.

Biggest disappointment:

Maxi Lopez

Now hear me out. Although his loan move to Milan was pretty disastrous, Maxi had been a consistent performer with Catania, whilst he was never a prolific goalscorer he was always there or thereabouts and his all-round play always made things happen. His year with Sampdoria was more akin to his brief time with Milan than his old Catania self however. A miserable season taking in a rather nasty knee injury which put him out for over two months gave Icardi a shot in the first team, something which he took with both hands. It left Lopez on the bench for the majority of the second half of the season and he was restricted to 17 appearances and just four goals.

What needs changing?

If we're honest, not an awful lot. Sampdoria were always a threat, whatever side they faced and they didn't suffer any embarrassing results. Delio Rossi will need to replace Icardi with another goalscorer and he will hope to make Marcelo Estigarribia's transfer permanent after the Paraguayan winger impressed on loan from Uruguay's Deportivo Maldonando. The system for Samp should stay the same, they just need a little more quality to edge up the table and try to get back to the Europe-threatening side they once were.

Who's off in the summer?

Icardi's departure is already a done deal, and the other important player who could be on his way out is Andrea Poli. The 23 year-old midfielder has been a consistent performer this season and has been linked with both Milan clubs, having spent the second half of last season on loan at Inter. Pedro Obiang has had a magnificent season aged just 21 and as a consequence has also been linked with a transfer however as the season wore on, these rumours became less and less frequent.

If Sampdoria keep one individual...

Pedro Obiang

With Poli the more likely of the two to actually leave, Sampdoria could do with keeping hold of the Spanish midfielder. Despite his young age, he has been a powerhouse at the heart of the Blucerchiati midfield, having the destructive tackling ability to break down opposition play, the vision to start attacks and the pace and power to break forward at any time. It is no surprise the division's bigger clubs have been sniffing around but Sampdoria should look to hold on to him for at least another season.

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