WEST HAM UNITED v UC SAMPDORIA
SATURDAY 9 AUGUST 2014
Football returns to the Boleyn Ground after a 99-day break when the Hammers face Italian side UC Sampdoria for the inaugural Marathonbet Cup.
Following six pre-season matches away from home, Sam Allardyce's men are back on familiar turf, with several new signings set to make their Boleyn Ground debuts. West Ham will be looking to end their pre-season campaign on a high, having not yet won a summer fixture over 90 minutes. They did triumph 7-6 on penalties following a 0-0 draw at Schalke 04 last Saturday, but then suffered a 2-0 defeat to Malaga 24 hours later at the same venue.
Saturday's opponents finished last season's Serie A campaign in eleventh place and will be playing their first game on UK soil since a 1-0 defeat to Newcastle United in 2007. Sampdoria's season starts with a trip to Palermo on 31 August, and they could feature as many as five new signings on Saturday - full backs Lorenzo De Silvestri, Fabrizio Cacciatore, midfielders Alfred Duncan and Jose Campana and forward Gonzalo Bergessio.
Should the match finish level after 90 minutes, a penalty shootout will take place to determine the winner.
Nobes psyched for Sampdoria
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Who are they?
Formed in 1946, il Doria are the imalgamation of two previous clubs who can trace their roots back to the 1890s, Sampierdarenese and Andrea Doria. Their past is reflected both in the team's jersey and name, Sampdoria combining both and their colours all being present in their strip - blue, white red and black.
Their home ground Stadio Luigi Ferraris has a capacity of 36,536 and is shared with city and Serie A rivals Genoa.
Sampdoria's glory days were between the mid-1980s and early-1990s. Under Vujadin Boskov and Sven-Goran Eriksson, they won the Serie A title, four Italian Cups, the Italian Supercup, the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup and reached the 1992 European Cup final. Back then, the Genovese club enjoyed the services of some top players, including Irishman and future Hammer Liam Brady, England striker Trevor Francis, Ruud Gullit, Roberto Mancini, Gianluca Vialli and Pietro Vierchowod.
Managed by former Sampdoria, Lazio, Internazionale and Yugoslavia defender Sinisa Mihajlovic, Sampdoria finished the 2013/14 season in eleventh position in Serie A. The club has been active in the transfer market over the summer months and will be hopeful of breaking into the top half of the table this term.
West Ham United
West Ham manager Sam Allardyce could give four of his six summer signings their first appearances at the Boleyn Ground in Claret and Blue, with Aaron Cresswell, Cheikhou Kouyate, Diego Poyet and Mauro Zarate all in line to feature.
Two other recent arrivals, Carl Jenkinson (hamstring) and Enner Valencia (not match fit), are not available for selection. Andy Carroll (ankle) is also definitely out, but James Tomkins (groin) and Guy Demel (compassionate leave) could be involved.
Sampdoria have also been busy in the transfer market, bringing in full-backs Lorenzo De Silvestri and Fabrizio Cacciatore, midfielders Alfred Duncan and Jose Campana and forward Gonzalo Bergessio.
While all five could appear this afternoon, Alessandro De Vitis will miss today's game after undergoing surgery to repair damaged anterior cruciate knee ligaments, while Vasco Regini (bruised sternum) could also be sidelined.
One to watch
West Ham United
Mauro Zarate will hope to recreate his finest moment in Italian football when he takes on Italian opposition in his first appearance at the Boleyn Ground.
West Ham United's Argentine forward scored in normal time and in a penalty shootout as a Lazio player in their Italian Cup final win over UC Sampdoria in 2009. The 27-year-old netted an outstanding goal just four minutes into the final in Rome, cutting in from the left past two defenders before unleashing an unstoppable shot into the far corner.
Zarate showed a similar glimpse of his ability when he scored a fantastic maiden goal for the Hammers during their Football United Tour to New Zealand, netting from outside the penalty area in the 2-1 defeat by Wellington Phoenix in Auckland in July.
Zarate's fellow countryman Gonzalo Bergessio will be anxious to impress after completing a transfer from relegated Catania earlier this week. A lively striker, Bergessio was born in Cordoba and spent the first seven years of his professional career in his homeland with Platense, Instituto and Racing Avellaneda.
After an unsuccessful spell with Benfica in Portugal, he made his name with San Lorenzo back in Argentina, bagging 29 goals in 48 league games. After a season in France with St Etienne, the 30-year-old joined Catania in January 2011.
Bergessio was capped three times by his country in 2008, scoring twice in a friendly win over Panama in May 2009.
Supporters can pay on the day for the Marathonbet Cup this Saturday against Serie A side Sampdoria.
Prices on the day are £15 for U16s and £25 for Adults. The Stadium Ticket Office opens at 9am, with cash turnstiles also available from 1.30pm until kick-off.
A Family Fun Zone will be open in the Alpari Stand Car Park from 1.30pm, where the kids can test their skills in a penalty shootout or have a kickabout on our mini inflatable pitch.
Advance tickets are available to order online or by phone up until 5pm on Friday 8 August, priced at £10 for U16s and £20 for Adults. Season Ticket Holders receive a £5 discount.
Every fan buying a ticket in advance will be placed into a prize draw to win a pair of boots signed by Hammer of the Year Mark Noble. Book online at whufcboxoffice.com or by phone on 0871 529 1966 (calls 10p/min plus network extras).
Supporters will be delighted to know that there is no engineering work planned on the London Underground network on Saturday, save for engineering works at the far west end of the Metropolitan and Piccadilly lines between Rayners Lane and Uxbridge.
Greater Anglia mainline services are also blissfully free of engineering works at the south end of the network, which serves London Liverpool Street, Stratford and stations in mid and north Essex.
c2c mainline services connecting south Essex with Barking, West Ham and London Fenchurch Street will also be free of engineering works.
Saturday's weather forecast for east London is for a warm day with sunny intervals and a maximum afternoon temperature of 23C (74F).
West Ham United meet UC Sampdoria for just the second time. Hammers fans will be hoping for better than the 6-1 Makita International Tournament defeat suffered at Highbury in August 1991. That day, Renato Buso scored four times and Toninho Cerezo and Attilio Lombardo once each for the Italians, with George Parris netting the Hammers' consolation goal when the score was 4-0.
Three players have appeared for both West Ham and Sampdoria - Liam Brady, Manuel da Costa and Marco Borriello.
Republic of Ireland international midfielder Brady joined Sampdoria from Juventus in 1982, having won two Serie A titles with the Turin club. He spent two seasons with Sampdoria, scoring six goals in 57 Serie A appearances before moving on to Internazionale in 1984 and Ascoli in 1986. In 1987, he joined West Ham United for £100,000, scoring ten goals in 119 games in Claret and Blue. Brady spent 18 years as head of Arsenal's Academy between 1996 and 2014 and is remains a popular pundit on Ireland's national broadcaster RTE.
France-born Morocco international Manuel da Costa was loaned to Sampdoria from Fiorentina in January 2009, before going on to make two Serie A and two UEFA Europa League appearances. Da Costa joined West Ham on a permanent basis in June of the same year, spending two seasons in east London. He made 35 appearances and scored four goals for the Hammers before joining Lokomotiv Moscow in summer 2011.
Striker Borriello spent the first half of the 2005/06 season on loan at Sampdoria from AC Milan. The Italy international scored two goals in 14 appearances before moving on to another loan spell at Treviso in January 2006. Borriello joined West Ham on loan from Roma in January 2014, but made just two Barclays Premier League appearances before being ruled out for the remainder of the season through injury.