Under The Spotlight: Sampdoria's battle for Serie A survival
After nine straight seasons in the Italian top flight, Sampdoria's Serie A status is in jeopardy.
Samp are only seven points clear of the drop, with Venezia and their local rivals Genoa hunting them down, even if bottom club Salernitana are already cut adrift.
The threat of relegation looms over the club as an underwhelming season enters the final stretch and they desperately scramble for any sort of form.
They have won only three of their last 12 matches — losing the other nine.
Ahead of tonight's clash with Bologna, we examine their chances of survival.
Having secured ninth last term, it was expected the Ligurians would push on this campaign or at least solidify themselves in mid-table.
Only securing one win from their opening eight league outings put Samp on the back foot before three straight defeats took then-coach Roberto D'Aversa's side into the bottom three.
A five-game winless streak either side of the winter break resulted in D'Aversa being replaced by Marco Giampaolo, who has failed to bring any notable upturn in performance.
The 1991 Serie A champions have struggled for results this season and play risk-heavy, high-stakes football, displayed by the fact they have only managed five draws from 31 matches.
An inability to grind out results and pick up points on a regular basis has been detrimental.
In fact, when the opposition take the lead — which has happened in 25 games this season — Sampdoria struggle to come back, with only seven equalising goals scored in those clashes.
Another issue has been the injury to Denmark's Euro 2020 star Mikkel Damsgaard, who has not featured since October.
The 21-year-old is on the way back to fitness but there is no guarantee he will start any of the remaining seven games of the run-in.
Veteran marksman Fabio Quagliarella, the club's top scorer across all of the last five seasons, has only found the net three times this term and it seems age is catching up on the 39-year-old forward.
While they attempt to find fluency in the final third, the form of bitter rivals Genoa is a concern.
Alexander Blessin's men have only lost twice in their last 10 games, keeping six clean sheets in that time and holding Roma, Inter Milan and Atalanta to draws.
However, their 4-1 home defeat to Lazio on Sunday will give Samp fans cause to be more hopeful.
Travelling to Bologna, a side managed by former Sampdoria player and manager Sinisa Mihajlovic, tonight could present an opportunity for the visitors to turn things around.
The 13th-placed hosts have one win in 11 and have dropped points against every team in the current bottom four this season — so they could potentially be the spark to ignite Samp's dull flame.
Giampaolo's men end their campaign with tough-looking fixtures against Lazio, Fiorentina and Inter so they will be keen to secure their top-flight status before we get to May.
Winnable clashes with Salernitana, Verona and a potentially pivotal local derby with Genoa are around the corner and it will be imperative the Blucerchiati come into these games with confidence.
Secure three points tonight and all involved at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris will be able to breathe a little easier.