Sampdoria v Sassuolo – Luigi Ferraris at 14:00

Sampdoria finished just two points clear of relegation in 2015/16 so a more comfortable 10th-placed return last term – 16 points clear of danger – under the astute leadership of Marco Giampaolo was welcomed.

Although the Blucerchiati were draw specialists – sharing the spoils on 12 occasions – they remained a tough unit to beat at their Stadio Luigi Ferraris base. Indeed, since the start of last season Samp have suffered only six defeats in 26 (23%) outings in their Genoese home.

Centre-half Milan Skriniar earned a move to Inter Milan in the summer whilst impressive strikers Luis Muriel and Patrik Schick also moved on. However, the club moved quickly to capture forwards Duvan Zapata, Gianluca Caprari and Gaston Ramirez to fill the attacking void and left-back Ivan Strinić also arrived at the club.

Sampdoria’s superb form

So far so good for Giampaolo with Sampdoria sitting pretty in sixth following an outstanding opening third in Serie A, collecting a club record tally of points at this stage of a season. The Blucerchiati have been most impressive in their own backyard and returning to the Marassi this weekend, the hosts will fancy their chances of collecting a ninth league triumph this term.

The home side has won six of their seven encounters as hosts, as well as the ‘away’ derby with Genoa, scoring at least three goals in four of their last five here. Il Doria always takes a positive approach to matches at the Marassi and they’re enterprising, attacking football often pays dividends. Since the start of last season, Sampdoria has scored at least twice in 15/26 (59%) of fixtures here.

The vibrant young midfield trio of Lucas Torreira, Karol Linetty and Dennis Praet have all earned rave reviews for their performances and we should count on the starlets to put on a show against Sassuolo, making Sampdoria favourable 1.80 shots off a -0.50 Asian Handicap start.

Sassuolo’s struggles

Sassuolo axed Cristian Bucchi following a home defeat to 10-man Verona at the end of November, a result that left the Neroverdi with only 11 points from 14 fixtures. A thumping 3-0 loss at Fiorentina followed but the visitors did pocket a 2-1 home triumph over Crotone last time out.

However, the guests pitch up on the back of five losses in their last seven and have claimed only four triumphs all season, with all four arriving against clubs inside the bottom seven. Sassuolo has taken a sole point from a possible 30 against sides in 13th and above and I’d expect that miserable streak to continue at Sampdoria on Sunday.

Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Sampdoria -0.50 at 1.862

By @MarkOHaire

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