Sampdoria and Genoa clashed in the Derby della Lanterna. This is for sure, the most important game in Genova. But this time it was played in an empty and sad stadium. The Blucerchiati came to the game looking for the fourth win in a row, after the one against Atalanta. Meanwhile, Genoa took on the Derby looking to improve their situation following a poor beginning of the season.

This tactical analysis will examine both sides and will break down the tactics of the match. With the use of match footage and data, this analysis will unpack what happened in the 1-1 draw between the two teams of Genova.


Sampdoria were set up in a 4-4-2 formation, a Claudio Ranieri trademark tactic. Former Juventus goalkeeper Emil Audero started in goal. Tommaso Augello as left-back and Bereszynski on the other side. Lorenzo Tonelli and Maya Yoshida as center-backs to further the harmony between these two.

Albin Ekdal started along with Morten Thorsby as the double pivot. Former Udinese midfielder Jakub Jankto played on the right. While Mikkel Damsgaard started on the left flank. Evergreen Fabio Quagliarella led the front line with ex Southampton offensive midfielder Gastón Ramírez.

Rolando Maran proposed a new shape: the 4-3-1-2 formation. Mattia Perin started in between the posts. Former Chievo manager chose Christian Zapata and Emanuele Goldaniga in the centerline. Captain Domenico Criscito as left-back while Mattia Biraschi on the other side.

In midfield, the three guardians were Milan Badelj, Nicolò Rovella and Lucas Lerager. Miha Zajc as the “No.10”. Goran Pandev and Gianluca Scamacca were the two forwards.

Genoa’s defensive style

Maran decided to change the tactical approach. After the game against Inter, Genoa reached 270 minutes without scoring. A more absurd number is that it was more than 135 minutes since Genoa last had a shot on target. In this regard, Maran tried something new to surprise Ranieri and exploited the qualities of his forwards as better as he can.

The switch from the three-man defense could have been counterproductive, but Genoa managed to limit Sampdoria’s attacking force. When out of possession, Genoa moved to a narrow 4-3-2-1 in order to avoid the central breach and at the same time cause pressure to the opponent’s double pivot.

Serie A 2020-21: Sampdoria vs Genoa - tactical analysis tactics

As we can see in the image above, Zayc and Pandev covered Ekdal and Thorsby pass line while the three midfielders were ready to close a possible vertical pass to Ramírez, who was always able to move between the lines. As a matter of fact, Badelj finished the game with two total tackles, three interceptions and five clearances. It was a good performance also from the teenager Nicolò Rovella: three tackles and two interceptions.

However, Sampdoria’s football idea is monothematic. The research of the width is vital to exploiting the qualities of Jankto and Damsgaard. Maran did not isolate his full-backs because he did not want to give the chance of possible 1 vs 1. Former Cagliari coach asked his right and left midfielders to help them in marking on their respective wings, as we can see in the tactical board below.

Serie A 2020/21: Sampdoria vs Genoa - tactical analysis tactics

Even though Samp’s full-backs had the freedom of overlapping, Genoa slid efficaciously keeping their 11 so short and solid. In this way, they made sure the ball didn’t reach Quagliarella, who was capable of making dangerous plays for his team and who was also able to shoot from distance. As a matter of fact, Sampdoria’s captain played only 65 minutes: 16 touches, 75% of pass accuracy and no shots.

Sampdoria’s long transitions     

One recognizable feature about Ranieri’s team is the capacity of playing with long transitions. The 4-4-2 formation helps this setting, especially if you have players who exalt themselves in open spaces. Keita Baldé did not conquer the pitch yet also due to his athletic form, but the former Inter manager explained that the Senegalese is central to his project.

Until now, Ranieri gave Damsgaard his trust. The Danish showed his abilities on the wing while Jankto became more pragmatic. Sampdoria’s leading goal was a recap of all those characteristics.

Serie A 2020-21: Sampdoria vs Genoa - tactical analysis tactics

Ekdal started the offensive transition while Jankto won the run duel against Criscito on the wing. Ramírez showed his great tactical vision by putting the Czech in a 1 vs 1 situation. As a matter of fact, Rovella was in delay, and the Sampdoria player found the net after a superb shoot.

It is also important to note how many Blucerchiati players filled up the penalty area. In this way, it was not so easy for defenders to decide the exit times because of the presence of so many opponent’s players.

Gianluca Scamacca’s rocket

After only five minutes, Genoa equalized. Pandev received a great laser pass from Goldaniga moving up before Augello. Scamacca is known for his physical abilities, and after the double against Catanzaro in Coppa Italia, Maran decided to confirm the former Roma player in the lineup.

Serie A 2020-21: Sampdoria vs Genoa - tactical analysis tactics

In this situation, Lerager demonstrated fantastic speed of thought by catching the forward who moved behind Tonelli and scoring with the right foot. The good performance of the U-21 Italian is cleared up in these stats: three key passes, two crosses, four tackles won and two times fouled.   

Sampdoria deserved something more

In the second half, Sampdoria dominated the game. The pressing intensity (PPDA) passed from 8.2 (1st half) to 5.2: 3.1 in the last 15 minutes. Genoa lost effectiveness as we can note from some interesting stats: the long pass share was at 37% between 61’-75’, the highest of the game; the duels win rate was 42% against 57% in the last part of the match;

Also, the pass accuracy was affected by the lack of energies: 62% for Genoa and 85% for Sampdoria between 61’-75’. Lastly, the attacks per minute decreased from 0.53 to 0.20 whereas Sampdoria moved from 0.20 (Jankto goal) to 0.56 (0.25 vs 0.44 only in the second half).

 erie A 2020/21: Sampdoria vs Genoa - tactical analysis tactics

Another important situation is the importance of Augello for Sampdoria. The Italian full-back represents an added playmaker for Ranieri and for this reason his teammates often passed to him in order to try to find the key. He finished the game with 13/18 progressive passes (72% of accuracy), 8/11 passes to the final third (73%) and an average pass length of 18.5. Furthermore, he demonstrated once again his ability in crossing. In the last five matches, 3.9 crosses, 2/7 against Genoa.


This derby was not as entertaining as we have expected. In the second-half Genoa was worried about not conceding another goal trying to maintain the draw while Sampdoria lost clarity of thought missing a couple of chances.

Ranieri must be satisfied with the good rank in the table and also with the future opportunity of exploiting some important players such as Keita, Adrien Silva and Antonio Candreva.

Maran and Genoa must work hard in order to save the team from the relegation. Five goals by now mean the worst attack of the Serie A. But the good news is not having lost the derby.