Saturday, 22 November 2014

Torino V Sassuolo Preview

Torino face arguably their most important week in recent history, which begins with a home match against Sassuolo on Sunday.

The Granata face a crucial Europa League match against Club Brugge on Thursday, and then face Juventus in the derby a week tomorrow. Toro are expected to return to two strikers, so Amauri is likely to join Fabio Quagliarella up front, whilst Alexander Farnerud should keep his place in midfield.

After a poor start to the season, Sassuolo are unbeaten in their last five matches, and come into this game above Toro on goal difference.

However, the home side have a good recent record against Sassuolo, having won their last three matches against the Neroverdi, and this good run will hopefully continue tomorrow.

Prediction
Torino 1-0 Sassuolo

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

My Toro Story #2 : Brian Rea

Name : Brian Rea

Other Teams Supported : Man City and Glentoran

How and when did you start supporting Torino : Well the clue is Man City, the team I have supported since 1953! So when Denis Law went to Torino for one year in 1960/61 I think, I began to take an interest in Il Grande Torino and have never regretted it. Since retiring in 2001 I have been to Turin several times and at my first game at the Stadio delle Alpi I noticed a sign CIAO DENIS which sent a shiver down my spine. I have read the history of the club in the book The Day Italian Football Died by Alexandra Manna,a Torino supporter and her English husband Mike Gibbs,which I would recommend.

Apart from discovering Torino in the sixties, my first chance to see them live was on the old channel 4 coverage, though we did not appear that often. I do remember two old games in particular - Juventus v Torino(2001/2), 3 - 3 and the play off games against Mantova which I think were shown on Channel 5. The Juve game I saw on the midnight show and I knew the result otherwise I would have switched off at half time. 3 nil down Torino came back to draw 3 all and Juve missed a penalty in the last few minutes. Dramatic or what! I seem to remember also a Juve player mocking our supporters by running around with two fingers on top of his head imitating a bull. When Ferrante did the same after our equaliser, running the length of the pitch towards our end, the atmosphere was indescribable. I was,to use the old cliche, over the moon. The play off was equally memorable, 4 - 2 down after the first leg,having conceded 2 penalties and going 4 - 1 down, coming back to almost make it 4 - 3, things did not seem too promising. After 90 minutes of the 2nd leg the scores were tied, Torino winning 2 nil, so extra time began and we went 3 nil up. Game over but Mantova scored a penalty and needed one more to go up instead of Torino. The last 15/20 minutes were unbearable but the euphoria at the end was unsurpassed. I remember the team clambering on to a giant bull behind one of the goals. Not a real one of course. This was beginning of the Cairo years.

First Match Attended : This was against Albinoleffe in Serie B about 7/8 years ago in the Stadio Delle Alpi which was an easy victory. It was a very emotional moment for me when the team emerged from the tunnel in their famous colours. This was the first time I was seeing them in the flesh and seeing the Denis Law sign was the icing on the cake, even though he had returned to United after Torino.  Last season I was at the Inter game which ended 3 - 3 on a wet night in Turin. I am sure most of our exiled supporters saw it on TV, so no need to go into detail.

Favourite Current Players : I only have fairly recent memories. I always enjoyed watching Rosina and from last years team Immobile naturally. I hope he does well at Dortmund. I was really pleased to see 3 of our players in the national squad at the World Cup. Currently, I like Darmian and Glik who is a great captain and leader on the pitch.

Predictions/Hopes for this Season : I hope we can consolidate. We have signed a few new players which should give us depth.We will miss Immobile but I am reasonably hopeful. Ventura has done a really good job so far and I enjoy our style of play. We have been a great counter attacking side so I look forward to more of the same this season.

Feel free to email your Toro story to torinoblogger@hotmail.co.uk and I'll add it to the website.

Forza Toro

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Roma 3-0 Torino

Torino's disappointing week continued as they fell to a 3-0 defeat against Scudetto-chasing Roma on Sunday evening.

As expected, Giampiero Ventura decided to re-inforce the midfield as Toro lined up in a 3-5-1-1 formation with Alexander Farnerud and Omar El Kaddouri taking turns to support lone striker Fabio Quagliarella.

Torino made a poor start and were behind after only eight minutes, and ironically it was Greek fullback Vasilis Torosidis who converted Francesco Totti's low cross to give the home side the lead.

The Granata reacted well to going behind, and Fabio Quagliarella's left footed curler from the edge of the area forced Morgan De Sanctis into make a good save.

Miralem Pjanic rattled the crossbar with a trademark free kick for Roma, but just before the half hour mark the lead was doubled thanks to Seydou Keita's strike from outside the area.

Despite making a bright start to the second half, Toro were well and truly out of the game fifteen minutes into the second half as former Fiorentina midfielder Adem Ljajic curled the ball into the top corner from twenty yards out.

This defeat was not a surprising one, and some aspects of the performance were encouraging from a Granata point of view. Torino will face arguably their most important week of the season after the international break, as they face Sassuolo, a crucial game in the Europa League against Club Brugge and then the derby against Juventus.

We will certainly know a lot more about this team and what we can hope for from this season after those three games are in the record books.

Forza Toro

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Roma v Torino Preview

Torino will want to bounce back from their disappointing performance against HJK Helsinki, but they face a difficult task away to Roma on Sunday evening,

The Granata have only scored seven goals all season in the league, but are likely to revert to a 3-5-1-1 formation which served them well earlier on in the season against Cagliari.

Antonio Nocerino returns to the squad following injury, as does Amauri who missed the trip to Finland on Thursday.

Roma have had a minor blip in the league following their humiliation at home to Bayern Munich in the Champions League, and fell to a 2-0 defeat against Napoli last time out. In this fixture last season, Toro nearly earned a point after Ciro Immobile's sensational equaliser, but a late winning goal by Alessandro Florenzi broke Toro hearts.

Prediction
Roma 2-0 Torino

Friday, 7 November 2014

Horror in Helsinki

After Toro's horror-show in Finland on Thursday night, Toro fan Peter Bourne decided to share his thoughts on what has been going wrong for the Granata this season. 

Yesterday’s performance against HJK Helsinki was the worst in Giampiero Ventura’s reign as Toro coach. Not in the margin of defeat, not perhaps in its consequences but in the manner of the performance. Victory would have all but ensured qualification to the knock-out phase of the Europa League meaning the final two group games could be played out under no pressure. Albeit this is not the Toro way.

Defeat against HJK, a team technically comparable with a mid-table Serie B outfit, was perhaps on the cards. Toro have not played a good 90 minutes all season; barely a good 45. The away win against a seriously flawed Cagliari was about the only evidence we’ve seen of last season’s occasionally swashbuckling team. I say occasionally because that Toro mixed compelling counter-attacking football with a tactical cynicism in certain matches. It wasn’t always the fanciful football the revisionist commentators would have you believe.

Losing Cerci and Immobile was always going to be tough. Hanging onto them was a near impossible task. Selling made sense. We understand that. Cerci wanted to leave and while he was the player who gave the team a sense of enthralling unpredictability, we probably wouldn’t have seen him motivated to perform at the same level this year. Immobile had the kind of season when nearly everything turned to gold. He’s not yet the finished article and despite his contractual situation with Juve lowering Toro’s financial return, the opportunity to cash in was too tempting. We’re not big enough right now to keep them.

Last night’s defeat is a product of a very poor, not quite disastrous summer transfer window, and a tactical rigidity which has held back the team this season. At jeopardy is the exciting and rare possibility of competing in the knock-out stages of Europe against some more glamorous sides than Helsinki and Copenhagen; and a league campaign which could slip into obscurity or even relegation trouble. A brief analysis of the protagonists is probably pertinent.

Cairo/Petrachi: President and director of football made their decision in the summer, not to reinvest all of the money paid of Cerci & Immobile. Immobile was sold early, replaced by Quagliarella, a talented but inconsistent player. Cerci was never replaced despite the club knowing all summer he would leave. In came a terrible joke/afterthought: Amauri. This was highly negligent. The two problem positions in the team weren’t filled: we still don’t have a quality left back and a midfield playmaker. The squad is not strong enough in quality to compete on three fronts.

Ventura: Ventura mark 1 (Serie B promotion) was characterised by a high possession count and wing play. The transition to the true Ventura style was held back by having to play the static and slow Rolando Bianchi. Same was true for mark 2 (Serie A survival) which saw a 4-2-4 formation deployed which was more often 4-4-2. It again relied on width. Mark 3 (European qualification) saw a more radical swift, 3-5-2, no more wingers, no more target man; a quick counter attacking style built on a solid defence and often tedious defensive possession. Width was provided mainly by Cerci, one of the two forwards. Mark 4 (European football) has seen a Cerci-less side play in the same way, devoid of a playmaker and only attacking ploy is to rely on one of the full backs finding space. Ventura has stuck to a three-man defence even when the opposition has barely posed a threat (Atalanta, Helsinki). To analyse the coach’s decisions in greater depth, we should look at the individual positions.

Goalkeeper: From the moment Jean Francois-Gillet’s season ban had expired you had the feeling that Ventura wanted him back in the team. The ‘problem’ was that Daniele Padelli had just enjoyed the best season of his career and had earned a Nazionale call-up. The rumours seemed to destabilise Padelli, after a costly mistake against Verona, he was dropped and relegated to playing the Europa League. Gillet has been excellent, Ventura likes him because he has good feet whereas Padelli can look clumsy in possession. He’s also an agile shotstopper and there’s ultimately little to choose between them. Ventura simply likes having the goalkeeper as his deep-lying playmaker. A coach should then pick the player who best fits his philosophy. Sadly for Padelli he has not looked the same player in the cup matches since he was demoted. I remain convinced the best Toro keeper is Alfred Gomis, currently enjoying a second excellent season on loan in Serie B. It all points to the goalkeeping position not being a problem.

Defence: In terms of personnel, Toro are blessed with a good backline, in both quality, balance and numbers. In terms of tactics, playing three centrebacks is starting to look predictable and unnecessary. The often tedious possession football played between the centre-backs needs to be replaced with greater urgency. Glik, Maksimovic, Moretti and Bovo rarely let the team down. Jansson looks a decent addition although he’s not been really tested yet. He is the eventual heir to Glik. Gaston Silva seems someway off being Serie A ready but needs to be nurtured.

Full backs: Here there is the strange situation where Toro have to play Italy’s best right back, Darmian, on the left because they still can’t get that position right. Molinaro is an upgrade on the various Caceres, Masiello, Pasquale options but struggles to deliver a cross – essential when the full-backs have becoming the attacking outlets. Darmian (he will be gone next summer) has also enjoyed a continued spell on the left because Bruno Peres has – after a strange debut at home to Verona – looks an excellent signing. An early Maicon without the power is a good description. The overreliance on Darmian aside, its not the root of the team’s problems.

Midfield: When your first choice playmaker is either Giuseppe Vives or Alessandro Gazzi then you should probably be building a Serie B side. Some context is needed. Vives was brilliant for 80% of last year but enjoyed a freak season and is approaching his mid-30s. He should be a valuable squad player, no more. Gazzi brings more energy than any other player but can only deliver a sidewards pass and is not the answer to unlocking defences. Elsewhere the midfielders have contributed nothing. The delight at seeing Farnerud return to action is a measure of how bad things have been. At least he offers a goal and a cultured left foot. Benassi is all hot air, running in straight lines, looking equally lost in defence and attack. Nocerino has been beset by injuries but does Ventura rate him? Sanchez Mino was arguably the most exciting summer season but looks lightweight, slow, careless in possession bringing only an attractive left foot. Lets give him time though. El Kaddouri is my issue right now. Last year, I thought he flattered to deceive. This year he is not even flattering. Looks lost tactically (maybe not his fault) and half-hearted in everything he does. He needs to be dropped. At the moment the best two performers remain Vives and Gazzi, honest, hard working players unlikely to upset an opposition defence. The team is crying out for someone to break into the final third (Nocerino?) and some pace and dynamism (not in current roster)

Attack: A collective palm masked our faces when Amauri was revealed as the Cerci replacement. 34 years old, ex-Gobbo, slow and uninspiring. So far he has been willing, perhaps too much, but his lack of mobility has been starker than we feared. It wouldn’t have been so bad had the supporting cast been better. Why Larrondo was re-signed remains a mystery. I can’t see what he brings. Barreto is someone Ventura has to explain, another half-hearted, ineffective player with no presence. Quagliarella’s few moments of magic have carried the team but should he get injured, and his form has dropped significantly in recent weeks, then it’s deep trouble. Martinez is a signing that really needs to come off. Give him time but he looks lost and clumsy. Two new forwards were needed in August. They are needed even more now.

For more from Peter you can follow him on Twitter here and his book about his experiences following Torino can still be purchased from Amazon here.

HJK Helsinki 2-1 Torino

Torino fell to their first European defeat of the season after a disastrous second half performance saw the Granata lose 2-1 to HJK Helsinki on Thursday night.

Giampiero Ventura gave summer signings Juan Sanchez Mino and Josef Martinez rare starts, whilst Daniele Padelli also returned in goal.

Former Boca Juniors midfielder Sanchez Mino had the only chance in the first half, but his long range shot was turned onto the post by home keeper Toni Doblas.

However, on the hour mark the Finnish champions took a surprise but deserved lead when some unconvincing goalkeeping from Daniele Padelli allowed Gideon Baah to score from close range.

Ten minutes before full time the home side doubled their lead, as more hesitant Toro defending allowed Valtteri Moren to find the net. Toro almost had a glimmer of hope of rescuing a point after Fabio Quagliarella scored in the final minute of normal time, but it was too little too late from the Granata.

This result pushes Toro down to 2nd place in their Europa League group, however a victory in three weeks time at the Stadio Olimpico against leaders Club Brugge should be enough to send the Granata through.


Wednesday, 5 November 2014

HJK Helsinki v Torino Preview

Torino will be on the verge of qualifying for the next round of the Europa League if they can beat Finnish champions HJK Helsinki on Thursday evening.

The Granata's next fixture in this competition (Club Brugge at home) would take place just three days before the derby against Juventus, and therefore it would be best for Toro to seal qualification as quickly as possible.

Giampiero Ventura has included two Primavera products in the squad for the trip to Helsinki, defender Alessandro Dalmasso and striker Simone Edera, whilst neither player is likely to feature tomorrow the night, the experience will certainly be beneficial.

Fringe players Josef Martinez and Juan Sanchez Mino are expected to start, whilst Antonio Nocerino could continue his return from injury in midfield.

Prediction
HJK 1-2 Torino