Sampdoria and Fiorentina faced each other on matchday 24 of Serie A. For Claudio Ranieri, it was important to take three points to avoid a relegation battle. This alone set high expectations for this game and how they dealt with such pressure will be focused on in our tactical analysis. Fiorentina, on the other hand, sits at the 13th position with 28 points, six points clear from the relegation zone. In our analysis, we will also explain Fiorentina’s tactics and show how Giuseppe Iachini prepared for the game.
Claudio Ranieri made only one change to the team that played against Torino with Andrea Bertolacci replacing Albin Ekdal. Sampdoria lined up in 4-3-1-2 formation with their usual back four of Bartosz Bereszyńsk, Lorenzo Tonelli, Omar Colley, and Nicolla Murru. Bertolacci played as the defensive midfielder and acted as a pivot during the Sampdoria’s build-up phase.
On the other hand, Giuseppe Iachini decided to make three changes to the team that played in the 2-1 defeat against Atalanta. Erick Pulgar made way for Milan Badelj, Dušan Vlahović replaced Patrick Cutrone and Alfred Duncan replaced Marco Benassi. Fiorentina lined up in 3-5-2 formation and often shifted to 5-3-2 formation without possession. Dalbert and Pol Lirola were chosen as the two wingbacks and both of them were deployed to the attack and to fall back to help the three centre-backs while defending. Badelj was in-charge of Fiorentina’s axis role and was the link between the backline and attacking midfielders.
Fiorentina’s man-oriented pressing and the back five
Fiorentina started the game with a 3-5-2 formation that often shifted to 5-3-2 with both the wingbacks, Dalbert and Lirola dropping in defence to form a back five. They countered that by reducing the space between the lines with a very narrow 5-3-2 as you can see in the picture below. Federico Chiesa and Vlahović would track back fast enough to form a solid shape. This was done as the shorter distances in between the lines make penetrative passes more difficult as the passing lanes are minimized, whilst multiple players can challenge the same through-ball if needed.
Fiorentina used a man-orientated zonal marking for their press. It was done in order to get the ball into wide areas to set pressing traps. They were closing the middle of the park in the first phase to force Sampdoria’s centre-backs to play on their wing-backs.
In the image above, we see 1v1 situations all over the field, Fiorentina created while pressing. This was a frequent component of Fiorentina’s play.
Fiorentina had a clear pattern of play which they stuck to for the full 90 minutes. This consisted of attacking down the right-hand side through former Juventus player Pol Lirola. He would hit crosses into the box and through balls down the line for Vlahović and Chiesa to get on the end of.
In this example we see Lirola on the flank, looking to get the ball in the box, unsuccessfully.
The wings-backs tried to grant width stretching the opponent’s defence, while Duncan tried to move at the opponent’s holding midfielder’s flanks, to receive the ball in dangerous positions. Chiesa and Vlahović would often get narrow to create the space on the flanks.
In the image below, Vlahović drew a player out of his Sampdoria’s backline in order to create space for Lirola. It can also be seen that Duncan, in this case, has three possible passing moves.
On the left flank, Gaetano Castrovilli would often combine with Dalbert. In the image below, we see that Dalbert, Castrovilli, and Federico Chiesa have created a 3v3 situation, In this case, Dalbert has a clear passing option to Duncan. The left-flank overload was a frequent component of Fiorentina’s play.
In the first half before Murru’s red card, Sampdoria had a formation of 4-3-1-2 but unlike Fiorentina, they didn’t counter that by reducing the space in-between the lines as you can see in the picture below. Here, Badelj, who was playing as the holding midfielder for Fiorentina before he too was sent off, was tasked to get the first ball from the centre-backs had so much time and space and helped Fiorentina progress the ball once again.
Second-half and 10 vs 10
Fiorentina shifted to 3-4-2 after Badelj was sent off in the late first half, In the second half both the teams had the same formation. In the image below, we see Fiorentina’s 5-2-2 formation while defending, For Sampdoria, Gastón Ramirez dropped in the central midfield area and Ronaldo Vieira replaced Bertolacci. While in the attacking phase, Sampdoria’s right back Bereszyński would join the attack with Karol Linetty and try to exploit the space on the right flank.
While in the defensive phase, Sampdoria were too slow, The slow transitions caused a lot of space to open in the attack for Fiorentina. In the image below we see that Sampdoria’s backline is out of shape and Castrovilli had so much time and space to pass the ball to either to Dalbert or Vlahović, this led to Fiorentina’s fourth goal.
In the later stages of the second half, Fiorentina shifted to 5-3-1 formation as they were leading the game by 5 goals, as seen in the image below.
Sampdoria’s defensive structures and pressing.
Since Ranieri took the charge at Sampdoria in mid-October, I Blucerchiati struggled at the bottom of the standings. While going forward has been a real issue for Sampdoria this season, it’s been defensively where the club has struggled. This part of the analysis looks at Sampdoria’s defensive structures.
In the first half, Sampdoria defended in an asymmetrical 4-4-2 formation, In the image above we see Sampdoria’s defensive structure with Ramirez dropping in the midfield.
Later in the game, Ranieri switched to a 3-4-2 after his side were reduced to 10 men.
In addition to the above, during the buildup phase of Fiorentina, Sampdoria were pressing with three men. Ramirez was tasked with marking Badelj, who was in charge of receiving the first ball from the centre-backs so as to cut off the passing lanes and forced Fiorentina to go either long or to pass the ball in the wide areas.
Fiorentina were comfortably the better side, by virtue of individual errors by Sampdoria. Sampdoria had possession of 47% with 81% passing accuracy and had five shots on target compared to Fiorentina’s six but they were let down by the individual errors. The own goal by Thorsby in the 7th minute changed the entire complexion of the game. Sampdoria weren’t disciplined enough and gave away two penalties.
Fiorentina fans will no doubt be pleased with their side’s win against Sampdoria. They are now in 17th place, but just one point clear of the relegation zone.