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Super Samp set for Serie A success at Sassuolo

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Sampdoria celebrate their win over Milan at San Siro
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Sassuolo v Sampdoria 5pm
There is a strange look to the weekend football coupon with most of the Sky Bet Football League action taking place on Friday but there are still enough matches from around the continent to keep punters interested from around Europe's major leagues.

The best bet could come in Italy where Sampdoria are playing well enough to upset the odds away to Sassuolo, or at least claim a point which would result in a profit for anyone who backs the visitors in receipt of a small start on the Asian handicap.

Samp shipped late to Fiorentina in a 2-2 draw last week but that saw them continue their fine run of one defeat in ten. That loss came 1-0 against champions Juventus and Sampdoria have not lost to a team outside the top five in Serie A since Christmas.

In the last ten Samp have beaten Roma at home and won twice at San Siro against both Milan clubs, while four goals have been scored in the two matches since leading scorer Luis Muriel was injured.

Muriel remains sidelined but replacement Patrik Schick has struck up an immediate relationship with experienced forward Fabio Quagliarella.

Schick looked slick as a super-sub earlier in the campaign and the classy 21-year-old Czech is one of Europe's hottest talents, reportedly attracting the interest of many big clubs.

The season seems to be catching up with Sassuolo, who took part in their maiden Europa League voyage earlier this season having finished a brilliant sixth last term under Eusebio Di Francesco.

Di Francesco is being linked with a return to Roma and, while the intention remains to play exciting football, Sassuolo don't have the same kind of zip about them as last term.

Apart from their success over 11th-placed Udinese, all of Sassuolo's wins this season have come against the stranded bottom five, none of whom have collected more than 26 points.

Sassuolo are also missing their best player by an absolute mile with Domenico Berardi banned. Respected website transfermarkt.co.uk rates Berardi at £17m - more than double that of any of his teammates.

Recommendation
Sampdoria +0.25 Asian handicap
1pt 28-29 bet365, 188Bet

Bet on this game at Soccerbase.com


Hoffenheim v Borussia Monchengladbach 2.30pm
Few managers have impressed as much as 29-year-old Hoffenheim boss Julian Nagelsmann in the last 15 months.

First he saved the club from the drop and now Nagelsmann is on the verge of leading the club into the Champions League as Hoffenheim sit third, eight points clear of fifth place.

He has a win over Bayern Munich on his CV - many are tipping him to replace Carlo Ancelotti at the Allianz Arena within a couple of years - and Hoffenheim have lost only three Bundesliga games this season.

So it may seem strange to suggest opposing nifty Nagelsmann's outfit but there are value grounds for doing so against Borussia Monchengladbach, particularly as Hoffenheim have drawn 12 times in the league.

Gladbach have been on a superb run which has seen them earn 22 points since the winter break , putting them second in the Ruckrunde table behind only Bayern Munich.

Dieter Hecking's side have lost only three Bundesliga matches in the second half of the campaign and two of those were to Bayern Munich and nearest challengers RB Leipzig. The other came at Hamburg and all three were Sunday fixtures following Europa League contests.

Gladbach are out of Europe and pushing up the Bundesliga with key wins over Hertha and local rivals Cologne in the past fortnight. They played Cologne off the pitch last week and let's not forget this was a side which started the season in the Champions League.  

Recommendation
Borussia Monchengladbach or draw double chance
1pt 19-20 bet365

Bet on this game at Soccerbase.com


Thought for the week

There was an attempt to blow up the Borussia Dortmund team bus on Tuesday and within an hour of that news becoming public Uefa had already rescheduled the game for the following day.

It's a total disgrace that within 24 hours of such a shocking incident where it was extremely fortunate only one player went to hospital Dortmund were being asked to play such an important tie. It was little wonder they started so slowly before losing 3-2.

Uefa claim they rearranged the game "with complete agreement of clubs and authorities" whereas Dortmund boss Thomas Tuchel said they were "told by text message Uefa was making the decision".

Dortmund were clearly unhappy the game was taking place and Monaco manager Leonardo Jardim said: "Maybe it should not have been played but the calendar gave few options to play the match."

There were loads of alternatives.

They could have played on Thursday and moved their respective league games to the Sunday; they could have played the first leg this weekend and then fitted the postponed league games in over a different Friday-Monday period. Or Uefa could have moved the semi-final dates. 

An ideal situation? Of course not, but it's slightly less of a headache than nearly being blown up.

Sampdoria have not lost to a team outside the top five in Serie A since Christmas
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