How Roma scraped a 1-0 over Sampdoria

Sampdoria Roma serie A tactical analysis

Roma travelled to Stadio Luigi Ferraris hoping to overcome Sampdoria in an important Serie A clash. Roma, with new manager Claudio Ranieri at the helm, are seeking a place in next years Champions League. Likewise, Sampdoria are just a few points behind the I Giallorossi and also hoping to gain entry into European competition next season.

In this Serie A tactical analysis, we will look at how Roma came away with all three points in a tightly fought game.


Since ‘The Tinkerman’s’ arrival in Rome, he has used three different formations, 4-2-3-1, 4-4-2 and 4-3-3 in just four games. Living up to his nickname, this game would see him use another new one 4-4-1-1. Manolas replaced Jesus at centreback. Kluivert was switched to the left wing with whilst De Rossi made a return to centre midfield with Zaniolo pushed to the right wing and Schick starting up front replacing Dzeko.

Sampdoria used their trusted 4-3-1-2 with Sala and Tonelli replacing Bereszynski at right back because of suspension and Colley at centre back. Saponara was chosen over Ramírez in the usual dilemma for centre midfield.

Sampdoria Roma Serie A tactical analysis

Samp’ beat the first line

Sampdoria built up from the back with patience. England U-21 player Ronaldo Viera played a key role as a defensive midfielder playing from the back.

Viera’s first task was to be utilised in breaking Roma‘s first line of defence, their two forwards. This was achieved in two different ways.

The first method was playing in between Romas front line. Viera would split the two forwards or midfielders playing just inside them and making himself available for an easy pass. Once receiving possession and with the first line beaten, Viera would start the attacking transition by either passing through to the middle or distributing to the wings.  
Sampdoria Roma Serie A tactical analysis

Once Roma had noticed how easy their first line was being beaten they narrowed the passing lane to Viera to halt any easy ball to him. However, this as you can see below, provided options to either flank thus beating the 1st lane with ease again.

Sampdoria Roma Serie A tactical analysis

Covering halfspaces

Either side of Viera in the defensive midfield line was Dennis Praet and Karol Linetty. When defending, these two would move into the defensive line making 6 at the back. Whilst in the defensive line they covered the halfspaces to stop Roma cutting inside to use interior space.

Sampdoria Roma Serie A tactical analysis

Once possession was regained Linetty and Praet stayed in the half space and would push further up the pitch than Viera to provide passing opportunities to beat  Roma’s 2nd Defensive line. If either player received the ball in Roma’s half, both players looked to play Quagliarelli with a through ball or play to the wings to the overlapping wing backs.

Sampdoria Roma Serie A tactical analysis

Roma stay compact

To combat Sampdoria’s progression Roma stayed tight and compact. As a result, this gave Sampdoria little chance to get the ball cleanly to their talisman and capocannoniere candidate Fabio Quagliarella. Incidentally, this exposed both Roma’s flanks, which Ranieri seemed happy to concede.

Sampdoria Roma Serie A tactical analysis

Roma Press high 

In the second half, Roma pushed up the field to try and prevent Sampdoria building from the back and gain any foothold.

As you can see below Roma have eight players deep into Sampdoria’s half who have just taken a throw-in. Five players surround the ball carrier immediately stopping any progression. Two Roma players defensively mark players who are potentially able to receive a pass. Another Player (furthest right) blocks a potential central passing lane.

Sampdoria Roma Serie A tactical analysis

Roma ‘go long’

Roma seemed short of ideas going forward and didn’t compete with Sampdoria’s passing game whatsoever. The only plan which Roma consistently stuck to was pushing four players onto Sampdoria’s back line whilst crossing the ball into the box hoping for a chance on goal. This could be because Roma have had 57% aerial duel success this season (according to

Sampdoria Roma Serie A tactical analysis

Roma’s goal would come from a corner kick in the 75th minute. A cross then headed towards the keeper who saved only for De Rossi to tap it in.

Route comparison

Sampdoria had almost 200 more touches of the ball than Roma and had an almost symmetrical heatmap. As mentioned previously, you can see how Sampdoria built up play from the back with Tonelli and Viera. Once inside Roma’s half, Samp’ tried cutting in as best as possible but also took the ball down the wings to cross in because of Roma’s compactness.

Roma, on the other hand, lacked in the middle and concentrated progression down the right flank.

Sampdoria Roma Serie A tactical analysis


The stats indicate Sampdoria had superior possession of the ball with more passes and with a higher success rate. Most of the telling stats are dominated by Sampdoria yet, still managed to lose missing two big chances in the second half to win the game.

Roma who were ‘under the cosh’ for long periods of the but game managed to get more shots on target with such little possession.

Sampdoria Roma Serie A tactical analysis
Credit: SofaScore
Sampdoria Roma Serie A tactical analysis
Credit: SofaScore


Marco Giampaolo will be wondering how on earth Samp’ lost this game. Not only did his team dominate, but they played really good progressive football. Unfortunately, the final pass or decisive blow never came for Sampdoria.

Conversely, ‘The Tinkerman’ will be delighted in coming away with all three points and strengthen the case for European football for Roma next season.