5th Place (Serie A)
Just a few years removed from a miserable campaign, Unione Calcio Sampdoria, known as Sampdoria (sometimes shortened to Samp), have skyrocketed back up the Italian tables. The Genoa-based club have won three games in a row to jump into a tie for fifth place in Italy’s top flight and bring hopes of European competition back to the forefront of the club’s mind.
Sampdoria have been a very successful club in Italy in the past. Formed as a merger of two clubs, Sampierdarenese and Andrea Doria (hence “Samp”
Things started to change in 1979, when oil tycoon Paolo Mantovani purchased the team, then languishing in Serie B. He invested heavily in the club, which eventually earned it promotion back to Serie A in 1982. That was when Mantovani made the most important move in club history, purchasing 18-year-old forward Roberto Mancini from Bologna.
Over the next 15 years, Mancini led Sampdoria through the most successful time in its history. He set records for appearances and goals for the Genoa side, forming a deadly strike partnership with another Italian and club legend, Gianluca Vialli.
The first major trophy in club history came in 1985, the first of four Coppa Italia titles Samp won over the next decade. During this time, the team also won its only Scudetto (Serie A championship) in 1990-91. It had success continentally as well, winning the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup in 1989-90 (a year after losing in the final) and falling in the final of the European Cup, the precursor to the Champions League, in 1991-92 to Barcelona.
After Mancini left for Lazio in 1997, Sampdoria began to slip, losing in the first round of the following year’s UEFA Cup before being relegated after the 1999 season. They bounced back up four years later and
Their stay in the second tier wasn’t a long one, as Sampdoria came back up the following season after winning a four-team playoff. They then finished in the middle of the table in each of the past two years, in 14th and 12th, respectively. But, this season, the club has quickly risen back toward the top of the league and, thanks to a recent run of form, finds itself in a fight to qualify for European football next year.
Since March 1, Sampdoria has three wins in three games, and has outscored its opponents 6-1. Two of those wins were on the road, including Monday’s 2-0 result against second-place Roma. Now, suddenly, Samp is tied with Fiorentina for fifth, just one point behind Napoli and four back of Lazio, who sit in Italy’s final Champions League spot.
| || |
With 11 league games remaining, Sampdoria have a chance at an unlikely European berth for next season. They also have a key advantage over their competitors for those top five spots: They’re only in one competition. Five of the top seven teams in the Italian table are still playing in Europe.
That includes Samp’s next two opponents, Inter Milan, who are eight points behind Sampdoria, and