Giampaolo fired up but wary ahead of opening-day clash with Benevento

You can tell Marco Giampaolo is looking forward to Sampdoria’s Serie A curtain-raiser on Sunday. After orchestrating a comfortable Coppa Italia win against Foggia last weekend, the boss is braced for his second league campaign at the Samp helm, which starts with a home game against newcomers Benevento.

“The first league game is always a bit special – it’s different to all the others,” Giamapaolo told journalists at his pre-match news conference.

“We didn’t get off to the best of starts last season but this year we have the advantage of knowing each other and knowing what we have to do,” he added.

“We mustn’t underestimate our opponents though because there are no foregone conclusions in football.”

Benevento, playing in their maiden Serie A campaign after beating Carpi in a promotion play-off last term, have been tipped by many pundits to go straight back down to Serie B.

They come into Sunday’s game on the back of a 4-0 humbling at the hands of Perugia in the Coppa Italia third round but the boss is wary of a potential banana skin.

“We mustn’t read too much into their Coppa Italia defeat. Benevento have a clear playing style.”

With the transfer window entering the final weeks, Giampaolo was quizzed about possible signings but quickly batted away any questions.

“There’s a time for everything and today I’m thinking about nothing but our game. My players will be the best in the world tomorrow.”

Finally, the coach underlined the importance of the Marassi faithful.

“They’re an incredible asset to us. They help drive us on to win, sometimes when it seems impossible. I’ve told my players we must never forget that.”