Preview: Fiorentina vs. Sampdoria
Fiorentina meet Sampdoria at Stadio Artemio Franchi on Thursday evening for a place in the Coppa Italia quarter-finals.
These two clubs have won Italy’s domestic cup competition 10 times between them in their histories, with Fiorentina’s last triumph coming in 2001, and Sampdoria’s in 1994.
Indeed, that famous 2-1 aggregate victory against Parma in the 2000-01 season remains the last time that the Violets tasted success in a major competition, having lost 3-1 to Napoli in the 2013-14 final.
Only four teams have won more Coppa Italia’s than Fiorentina, suggesting that it could be a good competition for head coach Vincenzo Italiano to prioritise this season, although the 45-year-old may also have his eyes set on following in Roma’s footsteps by winning the Europa Conference League with a double header against Braga awaiting them next month.
Either way, Italiano’s side appear to be on the up after enduring a difficult start to the season, with a 2-1 win against Sassuolo on Saturday moving them up to ninth in the table. However, replicating or bettering last season’s impressive seventh-placed finish looks a tall order, with Atalanta currently six points ahead of them in that position.
As such, the cup competitions have become more significant in terms of defining Fiorentina’s season this time around, and they will certainly expect to beat a Sampdoria side languishing in the relegation places in Serie A.
Having flirted with relegation throughout last season, ultimately surviving with a small buffer of six points, Sampdoria look in real danger of dropping out of Serie A for the first time in more than a decade.
After earning only their second victory of the season with an impressive 2-1 win away to Sassuolo in their first game following the recent World Cup in Qatar, Dejan Stankovic’s side fell to an expected defeat at the hands of runaway leaders Napoli on Sunday.
Their already difficult task was made doubly difficult by Tomas Rincon being given his marching orders before half time, with strikes from Victor Osimhen and Elif Elmas either side of the break leaving their opponents six points adrift of safety.
Whether mounting a cup run presents itself as an appealing prospect to Stankovic and his players is certainly up for question, then, with his time and energy surely best spent on rescuing what could end up being an extremely depressing campaign.
However, winning can never be considered an undesirable habit in football, so the 44-year-old will expect which ever players he picks in Florence on Thursday to give their all and potentially set up a quarter-final tie against AC Milan in the next round.
Fiorentina Coppa Italia form:
Fiorentina form (all competitions):
Sampdoria Coppa Italia form:
Sampdoria form (all competitions):
We say: Fiorentina 2-0 Sampdoria
Given these two sides’ respective league positions, we expect Fiorentina to take this cup tie much more seriously and produce a comfortable victory to reach the quarter-finals of this competition for the 11th time in 13 seasons.