The Most Impressive Clubs So Far This Season in Serie A

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Like every season, there’s been several surprises so far. However, it seems as though there has been more surprisingly overachieving clubs than usual, this season. Here’s who I think have been the most impressive Serie A clubs, so far this season.

HELLAS VERONA

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Many Serie A fans would’ve thought that coming into this season, Hellas Verona would battle relegation throughout. However, they’ve proved so many wrong and may challenge for a spot in a European competition if they continue like this. They currently sit in ninth in the standings. The interesting part of Hellas Verona is the fact that they don’t possess any notable players. But, they’re getting the job done and that’s what matters the most. Well see if they can avoid a relegation battle throughout the rest of this season.

CAGLIARI

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When Nainggolan was loaned to Cagliari, it seemed as if his biggest motivation was to prove Inter wrong. So far, him and Cagliari are doing just that. Yes, Cagliari sold their star player last season, Nicolo Barella. However, they’re boasting players such as Joao Pedro, Giovanni Simeone, and of course Radja Nainggolan, who are taking the league by storm. Also, they boast some decent veterans such as Ragnar Klavan and Luca Cigarini as well. All in all, they’re a very underrated squad and at this rate, they have a good chance of being in the Europa League next season. They’re also challenging for the Champions League, so watch out for this squad.

LAZIO

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So far, Lazio looks like a very tough club to face. Ciro Immobile has scored the most goals out of all players in Europe’s top 5 leagues, this season. Once again, he is feeling it. They also sit 3rd in the Serie A table and are an exciting club to watch. They play a very offensive style. Also, unlike past seasons, it seems they’ve found a defender who can be a rock for them at the back. Right now, that’s Francesco Acerbi. They also possess Joaquin Correa who plays as a forward. Him and Immobile seem to complement each other’s games. They also a boast a midfield that has the highly touted? Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, as well as Luis Alberto, who is massively underrated. It’ll be tough, however if they can keep being this consistent, we’ll see them in the Champions League next season.

INTER

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Inter has a very good manager in Antonio Conte at their disposal. However, despite that, I predicted they’d finish in third before the season started. But, Inter is definitely proving me wrong by a wide-margin. Antonio Conte has gotten this squad to play how he wants them to already. Also, although Barella and Sensi are currently injured, they’ve been a massive part of this midfield that has dominated many other Serie A sides. Upfront, with Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez, they’ve been pretty good, as well. That midfield is a big part of it, in my opinion. Not to take away either from Martinez or Lukaku, but the service that midfield has provided to those two is a big part of why they’re playing tremendously right now. As for their backline, nothing needs to be said. Many expected that backline to be a wall and it has lived up to that, so far. We’ll see if they’re able to get enough points to win Serie A’s iron throne this season. One thing is for sure, it’ll be a tough fight, but one they’re winning as of now.

3 Reasons Why Juventus Has Been Quietly Successful Under Sarri So Far

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Many fans of the bianconeri have been complaining that so far, the style of play Juve has implemented under Sarri hasn’t looked different than that of Allegri’s. However, despite that, Juve is undefeated in all competitions. They’ve also sealed first in their Champions League group. But, Juve has not been as heavily talked about this season compared to the last, at least from what I’ve heard and witnessed. In the summer of 2018, Juve signed CR7. Within the season that proceeded, it seemed as if all eyes were on Juve to finally triumph and win the Champions League. But, it didn’t end up happening and Massimiliano Allegri got sacked the following summer. This season, Sarri has guided Juve to massive wins and they’re doing it very quietly, which makes them scary to face. So, here are 3 reasons why I think Sarri has led them to being undefeated , thus far.

Reason #1: Sarri Has Revitalized Dybala’s Career

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Last season, Dybala did not start as much many would’ve wanted him too, as Allegri decided to play a 4-3-3 formation, which led him to be an outcast. Even during this past summer, there were rumors that Dybala would be sold to numerous clubs. Among the clubs rumoured to be interested in Paulo Dybala were Tottenham and ManU. However, Dybala stayed put in Turin and already has 4 goals and 1 assist in 11 Serie A appearances. Last season, he got 5 goals and 4 assists in 30 total appearances in Serie A. This demonstrates that Sarri has gotten the best out of Dybala. Sarri has been consistently deploying a 4-3-1-2 formation for Juve this season, which suits Dybala’s style of play. Dybala has been playing as one of the two strikers up top. The reason this formation is the most beneficial for him is because he’s a very technical player, whose also a great play maker. As a result, putting him as one of the two players up front as a support striker allows him to playmake freely, as he’s used to doing. Also, he’s a very good goalscorer, so putting him up front takes the load off of Gonzalo Higuain, who is typically the other player up top with him.

Reason#2: Maurizio Sarri Has Allowed Juve To Have More Creativity in their Midfield

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Yes, Juve’s midfield is still missing another creative spark. That’s just my opinion. However, Sarri has allowed Juve’s midfield to become more creative in the opponent’s half. He hasn’t really deployed his famous “sarriball” at Juventus yet, as the midfield overall, doesn’t fit this type of system. However, from what I’ve noticed, they’ve looked more fluid. Maybe, it’s because Dybala has been starting more or for other reasons. But, for me the big reason Sarri has allowed Juve’s offense to look more fluid this season is because of the formation change. From reading this article, you probably think my favourite formation for any club coach to deploy is the 4-3-1-2, however that’s not always the case. It’s just that in this instance, having that central-attacking midfielder or better known in Fifa as CAM, has provided a link between Juve’s central midfielders and attackers. As a result, the service the attackers have received has improved from last season. My opinion is that if a club has a midfield who doesn’t have enough flair to provide adequate service to the players upfront, a CAM is needed so that there’s that extra creativity, if necessary. It seems to have been working under Sarri so far, let’s see if it continues.

Reason#3: Maurizio Sarri Has Made Them Less Dependent on Cristiano Ronaldo to Score

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I’m sure this is a very unpopular opinion and I may get some flack for it, however, I think that a big reason why Sarri has been successful with Juve thus far, is that he’s limited the over-reliance on Cristiano Ronaldo to provide offense. I don’t believe that Sarri has tried to undermine Cristiano Ronaldo, I think he’s attempted to coordinate the offense so that there’s less responsibility on CR7 to generate the majority of it himself. Unfortunately, last season under Allegri, Dybala under-performed, Higuain was on loan, Douglas Costa was often injured, and Mandzukic also underperformed. As a result, Ronaldo had to carry the majority of the offensive load for Juve. Yes, at Real Madrid, CR7 had to carry their offense load as well, during his last couple of seasons with the club, however, at least he had adequate service from the midfield to do that. Last season at Juve, the service to the players upfront wasn’t great. Unfortunately, that forced Cristiano Ronaldo to have to be more of a playmaker than he normally would be. In his prime, CR7 was a very technical and creative player. However, he’s a bit past his prime and doesn’t have the speed he once had. Therefore, when they centred the offense around him and didn’t get the best out of the other players upfront, it wasn’t beneficial for the club at all. Sarri has implemented a system to ensure that there’s less pressure on one particular player to generate offense in the opponent’s half. It has definitely yielded better results this season than the last one, so far. This is especially true in the Champions League for Juve.

Three Serie A Clubs Where Pochettino Should Manage

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Just in case you haven’t heard, Mauricio Pochettino has been sacked as Tottenham’s manager and Mourinho is now his successor. I’m currently running poll on my Twitter account @calciofanblogs1, asking which Serie A club Pochettino should manage next. As a result, I decided to write an article about the three clubs in Italy that I think Pochettino Should manage. So, here they are!

1. ATALANTA

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Atalanta currently sit fifth in the Serie A standings. However, they don’t seem to be in crisis mode, as they are two points off of a Champions League spot and Duvan Zapata is out with an injury. So, it’s not like Gasperini is under the hotseat. However, if Gasperini leaves within the next couple of seasons for some reason, Pochettino would be the perfect successor. Most likely, Atalanta would be playing in a European Competition. Also, domestically, Atalanta would most likely be challenging for a Champions League spot. Therefore, it would be a great place to manage. Pochettino wouldn’t have the pressure that he might have managing other clubs in Italy.

2. AC MILAN

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Based on the way AC Milan has played this season and the last several ones, I’m sure fans would love for Mauricio Pochettino to manage their club. I feel that this would be more of an immediate appointment, as they desperately need a top level manager. However, there is one big problem that might hinder Mauricio from managing AC Milan. That big issue is the fact that they aren’t playing in any European Competition this season and have a good chance of not doing the same next season. The challenge of this job would definitely be immense for Mauricio Pochettino. However, if he were to succeed at this project, he would become a legend to AC Milan fans. Also, AC Milan are at a low point in terms of results, therefore, the expectations probably won’t be unreasonable for him to accomplish.

3. NAPOLI

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Current, Carlo Ancelotti finds himself on the hotseat as Napoli’s manager, as they’re in seventh in the Serie A table and haven’t really looked as they should on the pitch this season. If Napoli continues this poor run of form under Ancelotti, Pochettino would be an ideal replacement for him. If you really think about it, his situation at Napoli wouldn’t be too different than what it was at Tottenham . Yes, there is a bit of a difference because Napoli has actually won a couple trophies within the last five years. However, they are similar in that they’ve both consistently qualified for the Champions League, recently. Theyve also challenged for their respective domestic titles in recent years. Pochettino will also have a pretty skilled squad at his disposal. It’d be a challenge, however, not as much as some other clubs he’s been linked to.

Twitter Poll

My Preview of Napoli against Genoa

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Coming into Saturday’s match, both Genoa and Napoli are going through some interesting times. Genoa recently hired Thiago Motta to be their new bench boss and seem to be feeling good lately. Whereas, Napoli seem to have been struggling on the pitch lately and the relationship between their upper-management and players has taken a bad turn. However, anyway you sum it up, it should be a beautiful game of calcio to watch. So, here’s my preview of this match for both clubs.

NAPOLI

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Napoli are currently sitting at seventh in the Serie A table. They have also only won one Serie match in their last five. Add to that, all the drama that’s currently happening between Napoli’s board and players and you get a mini- crisis out of it. It is very possible that this club could go undefeated in their next 10 matches domestically, then this part of the season would be completely forgotten. But, right now it looks like a nightmare scenario for Napoli. Of course, there is still plenty of time for the season to unfold. But, it doesn’t look good for the partenopei. The thing that Napoli will need the most coming into this match, is for someone to step up and be clinical in front of goal, as that seems to be their most glaring weakness. We’ll see whether they can fix their lack of goalscoring.

GENOA

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When Aurelio Andreazzoli got sacked a few games before by Genoa, it seemed as though they were on track to be relegated. Then, Genoa hired Thiago Motta as their manager. Now, I’m not saying he won’t get them relegated. But, Genoa looks like they’re playing a lot better. It also seems as though, Thiago Motta is getting the squad to play more technical and pass the ball around a lot more often. As a result of that, they’ve kept possession a lot more under Thiago Motta, so far. During the first 8 matches under Aurelio Andreazzoli, Genoa averaged 50.62% possession of the ball. Whereas, in his first three matches, Thiago Motta has gotten Genoa to average 58.67% possession of the ball. Albeit, it’s a very small sample size, but it looks like this style of play is already bearing some fruit for the rossoblu. Here is a great example of that last week against Udinese:

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2 Reasons Why Roma Is Surprising Serie A Fans

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So far, Roma seems to be impressing many Serie A fans. Before the season started, I predicted that Roma would qualify for the Champions League next season. However, it’s still early. Here are two reasons why I believe Roma is surprising calcio fans, thus far!

1. Paulo Fonseca’s Brilliance

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Despite the fact that Roma upgraded their backline over the summer, it still seemed very suspect on paper. However, it seems as though Fonseca has gotten the best out this backline, so far. In the last couple of seasons, Roma’s defence has looked vulnerable, but Fonseca has improved that backline. It also seems as though Roma’s midfield has been improving under Fonseca. Veretout and Mancini are very underrated and have been doing well in the midfield. Under Fonseca, they’ve improved in several different ways. If Fonseca keeps this up with this group of players, their potential is endless. Time will tell.

2. Roma’s Improvements on Defence

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When Roma signed Chris Smalling and Leonardo Spinazzola in the summer, I thought that they’d definitely be upgrades to Roma’s vulnerable backline. However, I didn’t anticipate that they’d be as good as they’ve been during this season. At Manchester United, Chris Smalling was used as a scapegoat for their recent lack of success. However, at Roma he’s definitely proved his doubters wrong. Even, Spinazzola has been superb, thus far. As a Juve fan, it’s still mind-boggling that they decided to sell him to Roma. He is very underrated and has looked better than he ever has been. This backline has proved many critics wrong and it’ll be interesting to see whether they can continue to do that.

Previewing the Turin Derby

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Derbies in Italy are amazing. However, this one should be extra good. Torino will face Juve in the famous Turin derby this Saturday at 3:45 pm Eastern Time. It should be exciting! So, here’s my preview of this match for both clubs!

JUVENTUS

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So far, despite having to adjust to a new system and different style of play Under Sarri, Juve still remains the club to beat. As of now, they’re in a tight scudetto race with Inter. But, heading into the Derby Della Mole, Juve look good. They may not be winning by multiple goals consistently, but they’re getting the job done and that’s what is the most important thing. The one issue Juve has right now is injuries. Douglas Costa is still injured, also, Chiellini being out definitely makes their backline look a bit more vulnerable than it should be. They’ll have to watch their defensive line, as Torino’s Belotti is in decent form and can be very tough to stop.

TORINO

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So far this season, Torino hasn’t looked close to the way they did last season. Last season, they conceded the least amount of goals in Serie A. However, their defense does not look remotely close to how it did last season. Yes, they have a lot of the same players leading that backline, but there seems to be something missing. However, I can’t seem to point to the main issue with them. As of right now, they are 13th in Serie A. It’ll be a huge challenge for them to beat Juve, despite the fact that they’re at their home stadium. We’ll see if they can rise to the occasion.

Top 3 Italian Players in This Season’s Serie A So Far

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Right now, the Italian National team is going through a rebuild that is being led by Roberto Mancini. As a result, it seems that there are many talented players emerging from the shadows. Also, older players seem to back themselves after that disaster a couple years ago. So, here are my top 3 Italian Players in the Serie A, so far this season.

3. Andrea Belotti

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So far, il gallo (Andrea Belotti’s nickname), has looked very impressive. So far, he’s looked very similar to how he did in the 2016-2017 season, when he scored 25 goals in the Serie A. However, it’s still early. He has also scored 4 goals in Italy’s qualifying campaign, thus far. He looks like he just can’t stop scoring and he may the reason that Torino gets a spot in a European competition next season. I wouldn’t put it past him and his club to accomplish something like that.

2. Ciro Immobile

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Once again, Ciro Immobile is on fire for Lazio. He’s currently the leading scorer in Italy with 8 goals and it’s almost like defenders can’t stop him. However, one common theme over Ciro Immobile’s career has been that outside of the Serie A and Serie B, he’s struggled. When he played for Sevilla and Dortmund he struggled. Also, when he’s been called up to the Italian national squad, he has struggled time and time again. However, his domestic this season has been unreal. That’s why he’s been my second best Italian player so far in this Serie A campaign.

1. Stefano Sensi

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When Inter signed Stefano Sensi over the summer, I don’t think they knew exactly how good he can be. So far this season, he’s scored 3 goals and 2 assists. However, he doesn’t play as an attacker so that’s not as valid. But, one thing that has impressed me about him is how dangerous he looks when Inter are attacking. He tends to draw defenders to him, as he dribbles the ball deep into Inter’s half. Then, in dangerous areas, defenders get drawn to him, so he gives the ball to his other teammates in these parts of the field. Therefore, making him so dangerous. He’s played so good this season that I wonder if he would’ve changed the match for Inter if he wasn’t injured early on against Juve. Either way, he’s definitely been the best Italian player in the Serie A, so far. At least, that’s my view.

Previewing Lazio vs. Atalanta

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Heading into this weekend of Serie A action, there will be some exciting matches taking place. For me, the most exciting match will be between Lazio and Atalanta. Both clubs will be heading into this match, having scored tons of goals, early on. Atalanta has scored 18 goals so far and Lazio has scored 13 goals. So, it should be a very exciting and high scoring match! Here’s my preview of this match for both clubs!

LAZIO

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There definitely hasn’t a been a shortage of goals from Lazio so far this season, as I mentioned earlier. However, the thing that is plaguing this club early in the season is what has plagued them over the past several seasons. That thing is being inconsistent in terms of their results. Even, in the Europa League, they’ve been inconsistent, as they won one match and lost another, so far. Their backline is definitely vulnerable. However, the inconsistency of results from them should be something to worry about especially, if they want to push for a top 4 spot in the Serie A this season. Against Atalanta, they’ll be at the Stadio Olimpico, which should help. However, we’ll see whether or not their inconsistency will hinder them against this tough Atalanta squad.

ATALANTA

 

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In Atalanta’s last 5 Serie A matches, they haven’t lost a match. Indeed, they don’t look much different from last season when they finished third. However, it’s still early. They haven’t performed how they’d like in the Champions League, as they’ve lost both their matches in the competition, thus far. However, they look red hot in Italy. They’ll definitely have a tough test against Lazio, especially considering they are playing away. This club continues to impress and prove the doubters wrong, though. One concern they’ll have going into this match is the fact that whilst on international duty for Colombia, Duvan Zapata picked up an injury. He’ll be out for at least three week. However, I do believe that their other attackers can get the job done.

MY PREDICTION

The first prediction I’ll make is that it’ll be a highscoring match, as both clubs can put the ball in the back of the net. Despite, Atalanta’s good Serie A form lately, I see this match ending in a 2-2 tie. This is because, whilst Lazio is inconsistent, I believe they’ll be motivated to step up and get a good result against a tough opponent at home.

How I Became a Juve Fan

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I’ve made it no secret on my blog website, that I’m a bianconero. Indeed, I’ve been a Juventus fan since 2006. It has come with many moments of heartbreak and joy, however, I wouldn’t change it for anything. So, here’s why I became a Juventus fan as well as when I started liking calcio.

THE ORIGINS OF MY SERIE A FANDOM

Basically, ever since I was born, I’ve been a Serie A fan. Growing up, I was born into a family that really liked the Toronto Maple Leafs and of course, calcio. However, it wasn’t until 2006 that I started to become a Juve fan. I remember that when I was growing up, I would wake up early to watch the first Serie A matches of the day on Saturdays and Sundays. This even happens now. I remember, I’d try to watch as many matches as possible. For me, it was something I fell in love with early on. Occasionally, I would watch an English Premier League match, however, it never compared to watching the Serie A, in my opinion. Indeed, I’ve watched Serie A when the likes of Maldini, Del Piero, Totti, Inzaghi, and Figo were in the league to now when Lukaku, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Insigne are playing in Italy. It’s been a lifelong passion for me and I will keep it that way.

HOW I BECAME A JUVE FAN

Growing up, members of my family were usually either Lazio or Napoli fans. That has to do with the fact that on my mom’s side my nonni (grandparents) came from the province of Frosinone, which is in the province of Lazio. Also, on my dad’s side, my Nonna (grandmother), came from a small town in the region of Campania. My Nonno (grandfather) on my dad’s side, came from a small town in the province of Cosenza in the region of Calabria. So, it’s understandable why many of my relatives root for Napoli and Lazio.

Until a certain moment in 2006, I didn’t have a specific club I was rooting for. However, in February of 2006, I remember watching a huge match between Juve and Inter, which was big for both clubs, as, at that time it would possibly decide the Scudetto winner that season. It was tied 1-1 and my favourite player of all-time, Del Piero, was taking a freekick that was pretty late in the game. Of course, he scored it with ease and Juve ended winning that game 2-1. However, that very moment is when I became a Juve fan.

For the record, I’ve always admired Del Piero as a kid, even before I became a Juve fan. He’s my favourite football player of all-time. But, for some reason that one moment of his is when I became a Juve fan. Ever since then, I’ve become a huge bianconero. However, there is one thing I’d like to see Juve do one day and that’s winning the Champions League. As much as I’ve witnessed some incredible moments as a Juve fan, that would be beyond incredible. I hope it happens in the near future.

Will Stefano Pioli and Claudio Ranieri Work Out for AC Milan and Sampdoria?

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This week, two massive developments have taken place within the Serie A. The first was that Di Francesco got sacked from Sampdoria, then, not too many days after, Giampaolo got let go from AC Milan as well. Then, in the same week, Stefano Pioli got appointed to be the rossoneri’s new manager and Claudio Ranieri became Sampdoria’s new manager. So, here’s how I think they will do at their new clubs!

STEFANO PIOLI AT AC MILAN

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Immediately after Stefano Pioli was appointed as AC Milan’s manager, fans of the club started using the #pioliout on social media. While, I don’t think it’s right to dismiss a manager that quickly, I also don’t believe that by the end of the season he’ll work out for the club. Now, does that mean I don’t think he’ll improve the the club’s results by the end of the season? Of course, I believe he will! However, even if he leads Milan to qualify for the Europa League in fifth like Gattuso did last season, I still don’t believe they’ll want to keep him. AC Milan’s upper-management does not seem to have any patience at all in regards to managers, therefore, unfortunately I don’t see him working out with the rossoneri by the end of the season. However, I do hope it works out for the sake of the fans within the city.

CLAUDIO RANIERI AT SAMPDORIA

 

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One of the interesting parts of this appointment by Sampdoria is that it’s the second time in a row that Claudio Ranieri has been hired as a club’s manager right after Eusebio Di Francesco has been sacked at the same team. However, I do think that Ranieri appointment as Sampdoria’s manager will work out for the club. The reason I believe this is because the style he implements at clubs is usually a more defensive one, as opposed to a possession/heavy pressing one. I think that with Sampdoria’s current squad, that style will work the best. I know that under Giampaolo, they played very possession based football, however, a big part of that was banking on the fact that Quagliarella was on his game and constantly banging in goals. However, under Di Francesco, he tried to get them to play a very offensive style of play, but, unlike under Giampaolo, Quagliarella hasn’t been scoring enough so far this season. That lead to Di Francesco downfall at Sampdoria. Anyhow, I do believe Ranieri’s style will cause headaches for opponents, as they’ll be tougher to break down. This will lead to them improving significantly this season.