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Sampdoria 2022/23: Their goalscoring woes this season – scout report tactical analysis tactics

Why Sampdoria have the worst attack in Europe’s top-five leagues and how to fix it – scout report

Just over 30 years ago, Sampdoria were one of the most menacing teams in Italian football having won the 1990/91 Serie A title before reaching the final of the old UEFA European Cup in 1992, losing out to Johan Cruyff’s Barcelona.

Players such as the late Gianluca Vialli and Roberto Mancini graced the Stadio Luigi Ferraris during this period, coached by the legendary Vujadin Boškov. The club’s stock had never been higher.

Unfortunately, this season, the club are facing their second relegation in 11 years, and are currently one of the lowest-performing sides in Italy’s top-flight division.

In fact, right now, Sampdoria are boasting the worst attacking record in Europe’s top-five leagues and have looked desolate up front.

The days of Vialli and Mancini cooking up a storm with I Blucerchiati are long gone, and not even the shadows of these titans have been enough to guide the ball over the line on more than eight occasions.

Two different managers have been in charge this season, Marco Giampaolo and Internazionale legend Dejan Stanković. Neither have been able to rectify the side’s goalscoring woes.

In this tactical analysis piece, in the form of a team scout report, we will look at Sampdoria’s attacking tactics this season, under Stanković in particular, and perform an analysis of why the team are struggling so much in front of goal which will play a huge helping hand if the Genoa-based club are to drop down to Serie B.

Formations and a brief statistical overview

Given that Sampdoria have scored merely eight goals in Serie A throughout the 2022/23 campaign across two different managers, it’s certainly no surprise to see that the Blucerchiati are lagging behind the rest of the division in almost every metric.

Sampdoria 2022/23: Their goalscoring woes this season – scout report tactical analysis tactics

The only statistic that Sampdoria are above the league’s average is with Passes allowed Per Defensive Action (PPDA), showing that Stanković’s side do press high up the pitch but their attacking metrics such as xG per 90, goals per 90 and shots per 90 are a sight to observe with winced eyes.

We will deep-dive into Sampdoria’s goalscoring woes later in this piece. But first, it is important to provide some context by taking a look at the formations that both Giampaolo and his successor have used in this campaign.

Sampdoria 2022/23: Their goalscoring woes this season – scout report tactical analysis tactics

Giampaolo has been an advocate for the 4-3-1-2 formation over the past few seasons. In his first stint with Sampdoria from 2016-2019 before leaving for AC Milan, this worked to great success and the former Serie A winners were playing some of the most scintillating stuff on the continent.

Giampaolo’s stock reached its peak, and he was eventually hired by Milan, implementing the same formation and style but his time at the San Siro was a failure. Another unsuccessful spell in the dugout with Torino led him back to Sampdoria but the experienced coach’s methods couldn’t catch fire the second time around despite changing to more of a 4-3-3.

Since replacing his predecessor, Stanković has preferred to utilise the 3-4-1-2 formation and other variations of back-three structures, primarily opting to keep a two-man strike partnership leading the line.

In theory, having an extra centre-forward operating behind a number ‘10’ seems logically appropriate on paper to help a team be more potent in front of goal. Not for Sampdoria. Let’s take a look at why.

How are Sampdoria underperforming?

Sampdoria have scored in just seven matches this season in Serie A despite playing in 20 matches in total which is an incredibly worrying number, meaning there have been 13 games where Samp have failed to convert a single opportunity.

Furthermore, the Blucerchiati have scored more than one goal in just one game across these 20 matches so far.

What’s more harrowing is that Stanković’s side are significantly underperforming their xG more than any other side in Italy right now.

Sampdoria 2022/23: Their goalscoring woes this season – scout report tactical analysis tactics

Based on the team’s xG map, Sampdoria should have close to 20 goals this season, which would bring the average up to around a goal a game in Serie A.

From 199 shots at goal, Sampdoria have scored merely eight goals. This is a ghastly conversion rate of 0.04 percent.

There are two other noticeable details about Sampdoria’s xG map which have contributed to their woeful chance conversion rate.

Firstly, Sampdoria are averaging merely 0.1 xG per shot. This shows that the players are not getting into decent goalscoring positions and that almost every chance they take ends up being a low-percentage opportunity.

Secondly, quite a lot of their shots come from outside the penalty area. This has certainly weighed heavily on bringing their average shot xG down as chances outside the box are notoriously low percentage, hence why many coaches discourage players from trying their luck from range.

Sampdoria’s form in front of goal hasn’t improved either after the FIFA World Cup. In the last five games in all competitions, the results are severely worrying.

Sampdoria 2022/23: Their goalscoring woes this season – scout report tactical analysis tactics

Over these five games, Sampdoria have averaged around just under 10 shots per game, maintaining the same xG per shot rate of 0.1 with a total xG of 5, while not converting a single opportunity.

Again, there were a high volume of shots taken from outside the penalty area which contributed to the low xG per shot. Always remember, quantity is not more important than quality in football.

But what is the main cause of Sampdoria’s low chance conversion, according to the data? Is it poor finishing, or a lack of chance creation?

Sampdoria 2022/23: Their goalscoring woes this season – scout report tactical analysis tactics

It seems as though it’s the former. Sampdoria have boasted 13.5 expected assists this season, registering just 6 in total, proving that there is an agonising lack of potency in the side.

But now that we have looked at the data, let’s further analyse Sampdoria’s goalscoring woes in more tactical detail.

A reliance on crossing

Full disclosure, Sampdoria are not a possession-based side. This season, I Blucerchiati have averaged 49.02 possession per game in all competitions which drops slightly to 48.63 percent when focusing on Serie A alone.

Under Stanković in particular, Sampdoria are quite a direct side and average 43.52 long passes per 90 which is the eighth-highest in Italy’s top-flight division this season.

Over 12 percent of Sampdoria’s overall passes have been long balls forward. As a result, the Italian side have averaged 45.66 balls to the final third per 90 which is the ninth-highest in Serie A, and more than Juventus, AS Roma and third-placed Lazio.

Moreover, Sampdoria are playing the seventh-lowest number of progressive passes in Serie A this season, which tells us that Stanković prefers his backline to go direct to the forwards instead of trying to build their way through the thirds of the pitch.

Sampdoria 2022/23: Their goalscoring woes this season – scout report tactical analysis tactics

Here, Napoli have matched Sampdoria’s back three in a 3v3 situation. Normally, when teams play a possession-oriented style or adopt positional play methodology, coaches will always look to have numerical superiority in the first line of possession.

Overall, in the midfield and backline, Samp are playing 5v5, meaning there is no free player. Instead of having one of the forwards drop short to create an overload, the centre-back pumps it long into the channels, looking for a centre-forward to latch onto the ball.

Sometimes, these long balls are used to get in behind the opposition’s high backline but more regularly, they are a method to try and sustain attacks in the final third.

The entire team squeezes together to try and keep players in close proximity in order to win the second ball. Once this happens, they can then open out their positional attacking structure.

Sampdoria 2022/23: Their goalscoring woes this season – scout report tactical analysis tactics

Sampdoria are quite good at winning second balls. The players press aggressively to recoup possession in the final third.

However, it is in this area of the pitch where the team’s struggles begin which forms the entire basis of this analysis piece.

Sampdoria have very few ideas or quality to break down an opponent’s low defensive block. Stanković’s side rarely try to play line-breaking passes, leaving the side to register the second-lowest number of through passes in the league with 4.32 per 90. Only Cremonese, who can’t buy a win at the minute, have fewer.

Instead, Sampdoria rely heavily on crosses, often to the team’s detriment at times.

Sampdoria 2022/23: Their goalscoring woes this season – scout report tactical analysis tactics

I Blucerchiati have been quite balanced in terms of which side of the pitch crosses come from. Sampdoria have hit 137 crosses from the right and 131 from the left in Serie A but have been more successful from the left by quite a large amount.

The crossing type that Sampdoria use in the final third is inswinging crosses from wide positions. In a recent 1-0 defeat to Udinese, Samp played 16 crosses in total with 11 being inswinging crosses from the wide areas.

Sampdoria 2022/23: Their goalscoring woes this season – scout report tactical analysis tactics

The wingbacks are the most important players in the team to play these types of crosses consistently. Since Sampdoria primarily play a variation of a 3-5-2, the wingbacks are the only players holding the width, hence why Tommaso Augello (no. 3) and Mehdi Léris (no. 37) are the most common numbers on the data viz above.

Going back to Sampdoria’s shot assists map, most of the side’s creation comes from the flanks.

Sampdoria 2022/23: Their goalscoring woes this season – scout report tactical analysis tactics

While the centre-forwards need to take most of the blame for being incapable of putting the ball in the back of the net, crosses are one of the most difficult situations to score from inside the box, although they are the easiest to play.

Deliveries from out wide are predominantly low percentage chances and so this certainly hasn’t helped the team’s struggles in front of goal because the strikers are not getting enough quality balls from their teammates.

In fact, just one of Sampdoria’s assists this season in Serie A have come from a cross out wide, yet the team are adamant about continuing to play vast quantities of balls from the flanks for offensive players to attack.

Need to use underlapping runs more

Sampdoria do lack creativity within the side. There is no player really capable of making line-breaking passes through the opposition’s defensive block and so the defensive side are generally comfortable allowing Samp to try and create chances out wide.

As we already discussed, these deliveries come from quite far out, meaning defenders have more time to adjust their positioning to deal with the aerial ball.

If Sampdoria are determined to continue relying on crosses for chance creation, then they need to start trying to play more balls closer to the box with greater regularity.

One way that Stanković’s side create space for crosses is by having a player making underlapping runs inside the wingback. This player is usually one of the central midfielders or one of the strikers.

Sampdoria 2022/23: Their goalscoring woes this season – scout report tactical analysis tactics

This underlapping run from the supporting player helps drag the opposition’s midfield and backline into deeper positions, causing space to open up on the inside.

The wingbacks can then cut inside, and dribble past their man to cross into the vacated space left by the underlap, as highlighted in the previous image.

However, while this is a good way to create space on the inside, it would be much more beneficial to use the underlapping runs by actually trying to play to the underlapping player.

If this happens, the supporting teammate will be in a much better position to put the ball into the mixer as they are closer to the opposition’s goal and there is less time for the defenders to readjust their positioning to cut the cross out.

Sampdoria 2022/23: Their goalscoring woes this season – scout report tactical analysis tactics

Here, the right central midfielder has made an underlapping run into the box, dragging the defensive players deep on the right side of the pitch.

Instead of using the run to slip the ball in behind and have the runner cross the ball in a much more threatening position, Léris whips it in from way out, giving the defenders plenty of time to set themselves to defend the cross.

Furthermore, these underlapping runs are very useful for finding a free player in the halfspace. Top-class teams such as Manchester United, Manchester City and Arsenal use these runs in behind to find a player in a deeper position in the halfspace to deliver a first-time ball into the box.

Sampdoria 2022/23: Their goalscoring woes this season – scout report tactical analysis tactics

For instance, here, one player made a run deep in the halfspace to pin the opposition’s backline deeper. Bruno Fernandes noticed the space opening up and so moved there to receive from Antony before playing a first-time ball into the box.

The biggest issue for Sampdoria is that the formation makes these moments difficult. As the centre-forwards are in the box and the player making the underlap is normally the wide central midfielders, there is nobody close enough to push into these areas to receive in the halfspace.

Perhaps a structural change is the way forward for I Blucerchiati.


Filip Đuričić and Manolo Gabbiadini are both locked on two league goals this season and are unfortunately the side’s joint-top scorers.

Sampdoria are a gruelling watch this season for neutrals but particularly for the fans who have been forced to endure 13 goalless performances in 20 league matches.

20th-placed Cremonese, who have yet to pick up a single victory in the 2022/23 Serie A campaign, have close to double the number of goals that Stanković’s strugglers have accumulated.

Something needs to change and change fast. Relying on goals from Sam Lammers, Gabbiadini and 40-year-old Fabio Quagliarella won’t save the club from sinking down to Serie B, and at the moment, that seems to be the team’s unfortunate fate.

With reports emerging of a potential points deduction due to players not receiving their wages, it’s looking like a dark time for the Italian club who were once on top of the world.