When you look at the top of the Serie A table, seeing Juventus in the top three shouldn't be any kind of surprise to anybody. Defending champions Inter being at the top of the table isn't a surprise to anyone either.
But then you look at the club sandwiched between the two and you start to wonder what exactly is going on with Italian football at the moment.
Sampdoria have been the revelation of the 2009-10 campaign thus far and are just two point behind Inter for the early lead in Serie A. They have been on fire since Day One of the season and don't look like they are going to slow down any time soon.
Juventus will be looking to slow down the Samp Express when they host Blucerchiati Wednesday night at the Stadio Olimpico. Both clubs will certainly use this match the gauge where they are at this point in time in the season.
Neither team has recorded a victory in this fixture the previous four seasons and when playing in Turin, Juve have won 31 of 52 matches.
Serie A's biggest surprise will look to continue their form after demolishing Bologna 4-1 Saturday night to end a streak of two consecutive draws. All four goals against Bologna were scored in the first 33 minutes of the match. Giampaolo Pazzini opened the scoring just eight minutes in and Daniele Mannini's brace was on either end of Reto Zigler's 26th minute goal.
Manager Luigi Del Neri will be looking to Pazzini and Antonio Cassano to continue the incredible partnership they have formed since the former's move to Samp in January.
Cassano leads the league in assists and Pazzini is only behind Udinese's Atonio Di Natale for the combination of perfect secondary striker and a young striker flourishing in front of our very eyes has vaulted the Blucerchiati into a table position few predicted they would be.
Pazzini and Cassano have gotten most of the attention, that doesn't mean it has been all offense for Doria. Behind the star-studded strike duo, there is a group of solid contributors who just go about their business without much fanfare. Goalkeeper Luca Castellazi has been one of the best in Italy in the early goings of the 2009-10 campaign and the defense as a whole have been a model of consistency.
Samp have recorded points in four of their last five matches and outside of the lone loss of the season, a 2-0 loss to Fiorentina on Sept. 23, haven't allowed more than one game all season. They have allowed just eight goals on the season.
Predicted XI (4-4-2): Castellazi; Zauri, Rossi, Luchinni, Stankevicius; Mannini, Poli, Palombo, Ziegler; Cassano, Pazzini
Until Wednesday's 1-0 win against Maccani Haifa in the Champions League, the Old Lady had failed to register a victory in a month's time. They got their first win in Serie A in five weeks against Siena, also by a 1-0 scoreline, on Sunday in an otherwise bland game to watch.
The Stadio Olimpico, which was such an advantage for Juve last season, hasn't been kind thus far this year. Juve have scored just five goals in four games at home and while they are undefeated on home soil, they have only won two of those games.
Injuries again are again mounting for Juve like they were at this point last season. Captain Alessandro Del Piero, who has played all of 10 minutes all season, is still out. Claudio Marchisio, Tiago, Hasan Salihamidzic. To make things worse, Monday's news regarding striker Vincenzo Iaquinta means another.
Much like Marchisio, Iaquinta will go under the knife immediately and the knee injury wll keep him on the sidelines for close to two months.
That means Ferrara will only have two senior squad strikers available in Amauri and David Trezeguet. Youth product Ciro Immobile will likely be called up for the match to fill the void left on the squad sheet by Iaquinta on the bench, but with both strikers on mediocre form, Sebastian Giovinco could be called into the squad for the second time in a week.
Giovinco is the major factor in what kind of attack Ferrara utilizes against Doria. Even when Iaquinta was healthy, Juve's stable of strikers could barely put any of their scoring chances on goal. In Sunday's 1-0 victory against Siena, Juve's lone shot on goal was the one Amauri scored. It was the same scoreline against Maccabi Haifa on Wednesday but the main difference was the formation that Ferrara used to create more offense.
Switching to a 4-2-3-1 with Giovinco in the lineup brought a whole lot more creativity to the squad. The possession numbers were just about the same against Maccabi and Siena, but Juve were a much more potent side when Giovinco, Diego, and Mauro Camoranesi were playing behind the lone striker.
Predicted XI (4-2-3-1): Buffon; Grosso, Cannavaro, Chiellini, Grygera; Sissoko, Melo; Giovinco, Diego, Camoranesi; Amauri