A battle at the bottom of Serie A sees 19th-placed Cremonese tackle a Sampdoria side rooted to the foot of the table, as the sides meet at Stadio Giovanni Zini on Monday.
In dramatic circumstances, both clubs progressed in the Coppa Italia last week, but neither has tasted top-flight victory during the first 10 rounds.
Though they fought back from behind to secure just their fourth point of the season, last week Cremonese equalled a club record, as they have now failed to win any of their first 10 matches in a Serie A campaign for only the second time.
The Lombardy outfit have never before gone 11 games into a season without victory, and current coach Massimiliano Alvini will not want to be the man that breaks new ground.
Finally finding some form in the opposition area, having joined the Grigiorossi in the summer, Cyriel Dessers put them in front against fellow strugglers Spezia last Sunday, but only a Charles Pickel strike shortly after the break salvaged a 2-2 draw which leaves Alvini’s men second-last in the standings.
Some brief respite from the realities of life at the top level then saw Cremonese entertain Modena in a midweek Coppa Italia tie, and despite failing to hold onto a two-goal lead with 88 minutes played, they ultimately saw off 10-man opponents in extra time – Leonardo Sernicola’s brace sealing a place in the last-16.
Returning to league duty on Monday night, Alvini will be aiming to avoid another unwanted record, as his team have lost both of their last two home games in Serie A: the Grigiorossi have never recorded three consecutive home defeats at the top level.
Perhaps telling the tale of their season so far, Cremonese have faced more shots than any other side this term (174) – incidentally, only Fiorentina have faced fewer than Sampdoria (109).
Unbeaten in 11 of their 12 Serie A matches against Cremonese, posting six clean sheets in the process, Sampdoria clearly have the edge in terms of precedent as the two sides meet again, though the most recent meeting in the top flight came in January 1996.
Like their hosts, Samp are yet to win in Serie A this season, and it is now 50 years since they last remained winless in each of their first 11 league fixtures.
Just three days after yet another setback, when they lost 1-0 at home to Roma, Dejan Stankovic’s side hosted Ascoli in the Coppa Italia on Thursday, and they only prevailed on penalties following a dramatic 2-2 draw.
With the teams locked together on one goal apiece, the tie went to extra time, and Francesco Caputo’s 118th-minute equaliser was required to force a shootout after Samp fell behind with just 10 minutes remaining on the clock.
A 9-8 spot-kick win handed Stankovic his first success since taking on an undoubtedly tough job at Stadio Luigi Ferraris, but before his team meet Fiorentina in the last-16 early next year, he will aim to lift them from the depths of Serie A’s drop zone.
Fixing their form on the road could be an important step in that regard: Sampdoria have won only one of their last 15 away games – and none since March, when they last kept a clean sheet on the road – while losing 11 times in the process.
Cremonese Serie A form:
Cremonese form (all competitions):
Sampdoria Serie A form:
Sampdoria form (all competitions):
We say: Cremonese 1-2 Sampdoria
Surely something must give in this scrap between two sides starved of a league win, and the input of a new coach with more progressive principles could swing the result Sampdoria’s way.
The Blucerchiati can finally get off the mark, as their hosts have the leakiest defence in the division and will leave spaces for some experienced forwards to exploit.