This Sunday sees the 98th Derby della Lanterna take place between city rivals Sampdoria and Genoa. This particular rivalry may not get the coverage, fan fare and worldwide attention as those in Milan, Rome or Turin, but it is nonetheless, historic, colourful and passionately felt by all concerned with both teams.
The name is derived from the main lighthouse in this port city and is an ancient landmark, that is revered all over the city, region of Liguria and a real tourist attraction.
Genoa is the oldest sporting club in Italy, formed as the Genoa Cricket & Football Club back in 1893, while Unione Calcio Sampdoria began in 1946 as a merger between a couple of clubs, Both clubs claim they are the “real” club of the city and the rivalry between both sets of fans, involve banter, before, during and after the match, fantastic choreography and all the expected back and forth expected in all Derbies around the footballing world.
Both teams share the Luigi Ferraris Stadium, commonly called the Marassi.
This Sunday, Sampdoria will be the designated “home” team. Currently, the Blucherchiati lie in ninth place in the Serie A standings on 45 points and still harbour hopes of a UEFA Champions League spot, as they only lie seven points behind Milan, who occupy the fourth and final spot for Europe’s most prestigious competition.
Their rivals on the other hand have been lying in mid-table mediocrity for the majority of this current campaign. They are in 13th place on 34 points, with no hope of qualifying for Europe, and while they appear to be safe, they are only six points above the relegation zone.
Both teams need a win here for differing reasons and both teams have been quite in-consistent recently.
Sampdoria’s last five matches have seen them beat the likes of Milan and Sassuolo, while losing at home to Atalanta and Roma, both at home, usually a fortress for the club. Genoa’s form has been even worst, as they have only won one of their last seven matches, even if that victory was against seven times defending champions Juventus and that was at home.
Plain and simple, a draw does nothing for either club’s ambitions this season and I fully expect them to go all out for the win.
Sampdoria’s manager Marco Giampaolo favours a 4-3-1-2 system using a number 10 or Trequartista, usually either Ricardo Saponara or Gaston Ramirez, with his twinned strikers of the evergreen Fabio Quagliarella and January signing Manolo Gabbiadini or Gregoire Defrel. The Grifone’s manager is former Italy boss Cesare Prandelli, has mixed and matched systems and formation since taking over at the nine times Italian champions in December of last year, switching between 4-4-2, to 4-4-1-1 to the last game versus Napoli when he employed a 5-3-2 tactic.It remains to be seen what formation the 61-year old will use on Sunday.
The first meeting between the clubs this season ended in a 1-1 draw, but the game promised so much more; Quagliarella gave Sampdoria the lead before the now Milan striker Krzysztof Piatek equalised with a penalty, all before the 20th minute had even been reached. However, a few chances here and there, but no more goals were scored and the teams ended all square.
Going into the encounter, both teams will be missing key players; Sampdoria will be without Edgar Barreto, and Gianluca Caprari, while Genoa will have to do without the suspended Stefano Sturaro, who picked up a straight red last week in Naples. Sampdoria are currently enjoying a great run over their arch-rivals, having not lost to Genoa in their last five meetings, which include three wins and tow draws.
Sampdoria (probable):Audero, Bereszynski, Andersen, Colley, Murru, Praet, Linetty, Ekdal, Ramirez, Quagliarella, Defrel.
Genoa (probable):Radu, Pereira, Romero, Zukanovic, Criscito, Veloso, Bessa, Lereger, Lazovic, Kouame, Sanabria.
Prediction: 1-1 Draw