Unione Calcio Sampdoria of Italy’s Serie A will be coming to Barcelona for the 2016 edition of the Joan Gamper Trophy.
It is well known that the Genoa based side were Barça’s rivals at Wembley in the European Cup Final of 1992, when Ronald Koeman’s goal in extra time earned the Catalans the famous trophy for the first time ever. Three years before that, in 1989, the same two sides had met in Wankdorf, Switzerland in the Cup Winners’ Cup Final, Barça winning 2-0 with goals from López Rekarte and Julio Salinas.
However, the first time the clubs met was way back in 1960, when the Italians won a friendly 4-0, and since meeting in the two European finals, Sampdoria have on two occasions been Barça’s guests at the traditional first game of the season at the Camp Nou.
The first was in 1997 (also the first time the Gamper was played as a single match instead of featuring semi-finals and a final). The game ended 2-2, with Anderson and Giovanni scoring the goals for the home side, who went on to claim the title on penalties.
‘La Samp’ were back in 2012, this time to win the fixture 1-0 thanks to a goal from midfield general Roberto Soriano, who is still at the club. That was the last time Barça failed to win ‘their’ trophy. In fact, it was one of only three occasions since 1990 that the guests have managed to poop the party. Juventus were victorious on penalties in 2005 and Manchester City won 1-0 in 2009. Other than that it’s been Barça every time.
Sampdoria’s only Serie A title was won in 1991. That was part of their golden era, when they also won four editions of the Coppa d’Italia in the space of a decade, as well the Cup Winners’ Cup in 1990.
The good times didn’t last forever, and the team has dropped down to the second division on two occasions since then. They last returned to the top flight in 2012, and two years ago, a seventh place finish was enough to earn a Europa League berth. Last season, however, saw them finish 15th and just two points above relegation.
There are a few familiar faces in the current squad, including Antonio Cassano, who was formerly at Real Madrid, Italian striker Fabio Quagliarella and last term’s top scorer, Colombian international Luis Fernando Muriel.
But it still is not clear who’ll be sitting on the visiting bench at the Gamper. Former boss Vincenzo Montella has left for AC Milan and no replacement has been announced.