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Sampdoria’s clash against Torino brings the glamour of Serie A to Serie B.

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By Andrew Harding

Friday 30 September 2011

One of the matches on Serie B’s fixture schedule for this weekend strikes out for many neutrals, in a game that would not look out of place in Serie A. If you would have thought of this match 12 months ago, you would have felt it would most likely be a Serie A tie but due to the disastrous campaign for the Genovese side- Sampdoria host Torino in a battle between two teams aspiring to return to the top tier of Italian football.

Both teams have made good starts to their campaigns with the visitors being denied top spot via goal difference. There has been a swift adaptation to life in the second tier from the hosts as they sit two points behind Torino yet only one place behind them. Six games into the season and both teams are unbeaten with il Toro having a 100% record away from home. With all these factors taken into account, it would appear that the game is likely to be a real test for both teams’ ambitions.

For Torino, it has been a longer spell than wanted in the second tier, as this is their third season in Serie B since relegation in 2009. Once again they find themselves tipped to be in the hunt for promotion at least but the past two seasons have enhanced pessimism from supporters of i Granata. Fifth place in 2010 was followed by last season’s disappointing eighth place finish and Torino will be hoping that another new Coach in the shape of Giampiero Ventura will cause a sharp upturn in their fortunes.

The events that Sampdoria endured last season have been well documented and it was felt that they would need to acclimatise quickly to Serie B to give themselves as much of a chance of an instant comeback to Serie A as possible. The name of Sampdoria in Serie B certainly attracts attention and despite losing most of their prized assets which had took them as far as Champions League qualification only two seasons ago, they have invested well this summer the hiring of Coach Gianluca Atzori appears to have been a good move on the evidence so far.

While the histories of the two clubs and their associated expectations add interest to the tie, what intrigues on closer inspection are their differing approaches to achieving promotion. Both clubs have sought to reinvent themselves for life in Serie B with fresh approaches and new Coaches with Torino opting for a veteran to lead them while Sampdoria looked for a more youthful drive.

The two clubs believe that Serie A is where they belong and while history may well back up this expectation, it means little without the performances on the pitch to carry the weight of both sides’ aspirations. The promotion race is not just between these two giants who have fallen on hard times but you would expect that with their sizeable status comes a certain inevitability of a return to the pinnacle division of Italian football eventually. Friday night’s encounter will offer observers a chance to measure just how far these two clubs are in their plans for promotion. Expectations are that there will be a bigger audience for this game across Italy and calico enthusiasts worldwide than most Serie B contests.

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