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Sampdoria spirit not enough to neutralise Benitez’s Napoli

Rejection, or ‘not making the grade’, however unedifying it sounds, is part of football. Sampdoria’s squad list is all the evidence you need of that. Key performers for the Genoese club have all had spells at bigger Serie A sides and been found wanting.

But Sinisa Mihajlovic, sacked himself from the Serbia national job, has moulded this bunch into overachievers. Perhaps their common ground of failing to make an impact at other teams has bound this Sampdoria side together.

They sat fourth in Italy’s top-flight going into this weekend just behind established European campaigners Napoli, visitors to the port city under Rafa Benitez and 11/10 favourites with Coral to win. Sampdoria, who have recently held AC Milan and beaten Mihajlovic’s former club Fiorentina at home, are 5/2 for another upset, while a draw is a 23/10 chance.

History is certainly on the Neapolitan team’s side here, as they have won in Genoa on their last three visits in this fixture. Benitez oversaw a 5-2 battering back in May (150/1 for a repeat scoreline) and his wide players were a real thorn in Sampdoria’s side last term.

Belgium winger Dries Mertens bagged a brace in the reverse fixture, and is a 10/1 chance to repeat or better. Recent Spain call-up Jose Callejon has eight league goals this term, meanwhile, and is 21/10 in the anytime market to net again here.

Argentina striker Gonzalo Higuain is on a great Serie A scoring run of seven in his last five, finding the target in all of those matches. He thus poses a major threat to a Sampdoria defence that is the third best in Italy, and is a 9/2 chance to grab the opener.

For the hosts, Brazilian striker Eder has netted in both of their last two home games, so he’s 5/2 for another goal anytime here. Former Juventus player Manolo Gabbiadini is Sampdoria’s top scorer with four league goals, and is available at the same price in that market.

Italy cap Stefano Okaka, who was once on loan at Fulham, is longer at 14/5 to be on target anytime, having found a home in Genoa after being let go by Roma. For all their team spirit and work ethic, Sampdoria lack the flair of Benitez’s boys, so Napoli are well worth it at 7/2 to win with both teams scoring.