Monday, 2 March 2015

Torino 1-0 Napoli

Torino's extraordinary week continued as they extended their unbeaten run to twelve Serie A matches with a narrow 1-0 victory against Napoli on Sunday evening.

As expected, Bruno Peres returned to the starting eleven for Toro - with the Brazilian wing back being ineligible for the Europa League, whilst fellow South American Josef Martinez was chosen to partner Fabio Quagliarella up front.

It was Peres and Martinez who combined in the early stages for the Granata's first chance of the match, but the former's low cross was somehow blazed over the bar by the Venezuelan forward.

Omar El Kaddouri, who impressed in both legs against Athletic Bilbao, had Toro's next chance, but the Moroccan should have done better with his half volley from the edge of the area.

Napoli were restricted to long range efforts in the first half, but Marek Hamsik almost opened the scoring in sensational fashion with a volley from distance that flew narrowly past the post.

The away side were beginning to control the game, and Daniele Padelli had to fist away Gonzalo Higuain's shot from just outside the area. However with around twenty minutes remaining, defender Kalidou Koulibaly needlessly gave away a corner and Toro capitalised.

Alexander Farnerud's corner found the unmarked Kamil Glik, and the captain headed home his sixth goal of the season so far.

Napoli had two great chances to rescue a point, but Gonzalo Higuain blazed his shot over the bar, whilst substitute Manolo Gabbiadini was unlucky to see his free kick rebound off the post. Cesare Bovo almost doubled Toro's lead with a free kick of his own, but he was denied by Mariano Andujar's quick reactions.

This result means that if the season had started on January 1st, Toro would be top of the league - and have yet to taste defeat in the league in 2015.

Forza Toro!

Saturday, 28 February 2015

Torino v Napoli Preview

After the heroics of Thursday night, Toro are back in domestic action when they face Napoli at the Stadio Olimpico on Sunday night.

Marco Benassi and Bruno Peres return to the squad following suspension and ineligibility, although Giuseppe Vives is unavailable and misses out.

Toro have not lost in Serie A since the heartbreaking last second defeat against Juventus in November and will look to maintain their eleven game unbeaten record in the league.

Napoli are also in good form, and have won five of their last six games in league, but lost against Palermo in their last away game.

Prediction
Torino 1-2 Napoli

Friday, 27 February 2015

Athletic Bilbao 2-3 Torino

Torino produced one of their finest performances in recent history to progress to the last 16 of the Europa League after a 3-2 victory (5-4 on aggregate) over Athletic Bilbao on Thursday evening.

As expected, Fabio Quagliarella started alongside two goal hero from the first leg Maxi Lopez, whilst Giuseppe Vives replaced the suspended Marco Benassi.

The Granata made the perfect start when after only fifteen minutes, Vives was tripped in the area by Bilbao captain Carlos Gurpegi in the penalty area. Fabio Quagliarella stepped up and converted the spot kick, although home keeper Iago Herrerín did get a hand to it.

Just two minutes before half time, Bilbao equalised when Beñat's exquisite pass found wing back Andoni Iraola who took a touch before lifting over Daniele Padelli. However, Toro still took a lead into the half time break, as in first half injury time, Matteo Darmian's cross found Maxi Lopez who headed home.

Toro wasted a couple of chances on the counter attack to put the tie beyond any doubt, and were punished on the hour mark when Iker Munian's through ball found Oscar de Marcos who slid the ball into the far corner.

But for the second time in the match, Torino responded almost immediately as Omar El Kaddouri's cross found Matteo Darmian in space, and the Italian international volleyed the ball past Herrerín.

Substitute Josef Martinez missed a great chance to give Toro a more comfortable margin of the victory, but the Venezuelan striker somehow missed the target after rounding the keeper.

Toro managed to hold on for a famous victory, and the squad were given a heroes welcome on their return to Turin Airport in the early hours of Friday morning.

In Friday's draw for the last 16 of the Europa League, Torino were drawn against Zenit St Petersburg, and will face the first leg in Russia on March 12th.

Forza Toro

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Athletic Bilbao v Torino Preview

Torino will head to Bilbao on Thursday evening knowing that only a victory or a high scoring draw will continue their European adventure.

After trips to Sweden, Croatia, Belgium, Finland and Denmark and now Spain, Toro supporters are dreaming of this unlikely European run to be extended into March.

The Granata will be without the suspended Marco Benassi, whilst Fabio Quagliarella could start after surprisingly beginning the first leg on the bench a week ago.

Athletic have struggled at home in recent weeks, losing four of their last six matches, and Toro will hope to exploit this.

Prediction
Athletic Bilbao 1-1 Torino

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Fiorentina 1-1 Torino

Torino maintained their unbeaten league record as they fought back in the latter stages to earn a 1-1 drawn with Fiorentina on Sunday night.

Pontus Jansson started in place of Kamil Glik, whilst as expected, Maxi Lopez started along with Fabio Quagliarella up front.

The Granata made a poor start, and after only ten minutes the home side were awarded a penalty when Marco Benassi fouled Milan Badelj in the area. However, Khouma Babacar was denied from the spot as Daniele Padelli dived the right way to deny the Senegalese striker.

Toro's best chance of the first half came when Quagliarella's neat back heel found Maxi Lopez in space but the Argentinean was denied by Fiorentina keeper Ciprian Tatarusanu.

The Viola were dominating possession, but Toro always looked a threat on the counter attack and substitute Josef Martinez almost gave Torino a shock lead when he lifted the ball over the onrushing Tatarusanu, but his shot was cleared off the line.

Khouma Babacar almost made amends for his missed penalty, but his volley from outside the area narrowly flew over the bar. However, with just five minutes remaining substitute Mohamed Salah continued his impressive start at his new club as he gave Fiorentina a lead from just inside the area.

However just two minutes later the home side were inexplicably caught on the counter attack, and Cristian Molinaro's cross eventually made its way to Giuseppe Vives who kept calm to volley home an important equaliser.

This was a positive performance from Toro who showed the type of spirit they will need in Bilbao on Thursday night in order to prolong their European adventure.

Forza Toro

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Fiorentina v Torino Preview

Torino will look to extend their unbeaten run when they travel to Florence to face in-form Fiorentina on Thursday evening.

The Granata are without the suspended Cesare Bovo and Omar El Kaddouri, so Nikola Maksimovic and Alexander Farnerud should both come into the side - whilst Maxi Lopez could continue upfront after his brace against Athletic Bilbao in midweek.

The home side are also on a long unbeaten run, and have only lost one match in 2015, a surprising 1-0 defeat to Parma back in January.

This fixture was a dramatic one last season, as on the final day of the season, Alessio Cerci missed a last minute penalty that would have guaranteed European football for Toro. As it turned out, Torino qualified for Europe anyway due to Parma's financial difficulties - which are unfortunately still continuing.

Prediction
Fiorentina 3-2 Torino

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Torino 2-2 Athletic Bilbao

Torino will need to produce a special performance in Bilbao in order to qualify for the last 16 of the Europa League, after being held to a 2-2 draw by the Athletic on Thursday night.

Giampiero Ventura surprisingly left top scorer Fabio Quagliarella on the bench as Josef Martinez and Maxi Lopez started upfront.

Despite a promising start by the hosts, Toro were behind in only nine minutes as Borja Viguera's left wing cross was turned in by young striker Iñaki Williams, who was making his European debut for the Basque side.

The Granata responded well though, and were level less than ten minutes later after great interplay by Omar El Kaddouri and Cristian Molinaro, and the latter provided the cross for Maxi Lopez to turn into the net.

Josef Martinez missed an excellent chance to give Toro a lead, but he was unable to make sufficient contact on Matteo Darmian's cross. However, moments later, Torino did take the lead as another fine cross from Italy international Darmian was met by Lopez whose header flew into the far corner.

Toro looked like they would travel to Spain with a first leg lead intact, but seventeen minutes from time Carlos Gurpegi headed home Beñat's free kick to equalise.

Things almost got worse for Toro as Bilbao hit the bar late on, but the game ended level and the advantage lies with the La Liga side ahead of the second leg. Torino will need either a victory, or a high scoring draw in order to qualify for the last 16, which is a difficult but not impossible task.

Forza Toro