With their Serie A survival still on the line, struggling Sampdoria visit Bologna at Stadio Renato Dall’Ara on Monday evening.
While Samp slipped to an 18th loss of the season last weekend – leaving them 16th in the standings – their mid-table hosts held Milan to a goalless draw last Monday, but have failed to score in any of their past four matches.
Having managed just three wins since the winter break, leaving them precariously placed above the drop zone, Sampdoria enter the final seven games of a troubled campaign still needing points to retain their top-flight status.
Edged out 1-0 by Roma last week – with Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s first-half strike ultimately deciding the outcome – the Blucerchiati have been beaten in four of their last five matches, yet remain seven points ahead of Genoa (18th) and Venezia (19th).
Samp did come out on top in a crucial encounter with the latter just before last month’s international break, which at least improved their prospects of staying afloat, and coach Marco Giampaolo will once again seek his 100th Serie A victory on Monday.
With the former Milan manager’s first coming back in 2005, while at Ascoli, he has seen it all before, many times over. Continuing a downturn in his career, though, things have gone far from smoothly since returning to the Marassi dugout, and following a turgid time at Torino he may feel there is much for him to prove.
Giampaolo’s current club last won a Serie A fixture at Bologna back in November 2003, and since then there have been seven losses from 12 visits. If his side can end that streak now, it would surely go a long way towards keeping Samp safe this term.
Enjoying total dominance at Dall’Ara in recent years, Bologna have won each of their last six league clashes with Sampdoria; scoring at least two goals on each occasion. Only twice before have the Emilian club recorded a longer streak against any Serie A opponent, and never in the past 80 years.
Indeed, the Rossoblu also left Liguria with all three points when the teams last met in November, as Marko Arnautovic netted a 78th-minute winner in their 2-1 win at Stadio Luigi Ferraris.
However, such memories have faded over the intervening period, as Bologna have recently drifted down the standings to 12th, having not netted a single goal in any of their last four league games.
The last time they failed to score in five straight outings was back in 2011, but with their last goal coming from Arnautovic over 400 minutes of football ago, concern is growing among the Felsinei’s fanbase.
Coach Sinisa Mihajlovic watched on from his hospital room as Bologna dug out a determined 0-0 draw with Scudetto-chasing Milan last time out, and with the former Sampdoria player and manager again undergoing treatment for leukaemia, assistant manager Emilio De Leo is charged with taking the reins again on Monday.
As the hosts have only won once in Serie A since late December, their latest visitors could provide the perfect opportunity to pick up a morale-boosting win for their boss.
Bologna Serie A form:
Sampdoria Serie A form:
We say: Bologna 1-1 Sampdoria
In the 100th Serie A meeting between the clubs, neither side stands out as strong favourites due to some lacklustre displays from both in recent weeks.
The last draw in this fixture came back in January 2014, and Samp have not drawn any of their last 12 Serie A games, but the spoils should be shared on this occasion.