Monday, 15 September 2014

Sampdoria 2-0 Torino

Torino lost their first game of the season on Sunday afternoon after a disappointing 2-0 defeat against Sampdoria.

Giampiero Ventura decided to leave new signing Amauri on the bench, whilst Matteo Darmian missed out due to a slight injury.

An uneventful first half was livened up ten minutes before half time when Manolo Gabbiadini fired a free kick past Daniele Padelli from just outside the area.

The Granata improved in the second half, and felt they could have had a penalty when Fabio Quagliarella was fouled in the area, but the referee waved away any appeals and Omar El Kaddouri was booked for dissent.

Gabbiadini almost scored another free kick but this time hit the crossbar, but with ten minutes remaining an individual effort from Stefano Okaka where he ran from the halfway line before finishing well put the result beyond any doubt.

The result was extremely disappointing for the Granata, and if they are to emulate last season's top half finish, performances like this one will have to be few and far between.

Forza Toro!

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Sampdoria V Torino Preview

After a two week break due to international fixtures, Torino return to Serie A action when they face Sampdoria in the early kick off on Sunday afternoon.

Deadline day acquisition Amauri is expected to make his debut for the Granata, whilst Juan Sanchez Mino could make his first start.

Like Toro, the home side also drew their opening game of the season as an injury time equaliser gave ten men Samp a point at Palermo.

Prediction
Sampdoria 1-1 Torino


Thursday, 4 September 2014

Arrivederci Alessio!


When Alessio Cerci signed for Torino two seasons ago, his arrival was marked by jubilant scenes from Toro supporters, with hundreds waiting at the training ground to greet their new arrival.

It is easy to forget now, but before his move to the Granata, there were major concerns over Cerci's attitude due to a number of incidents that marred his spell at Fiorentina. The story about telling a police officer that he would move his car, that had been parked illegally, (but only after he had finished his meal) is well known, but on the field the red card he received for literally kicking Martin Caceres up the arse in a match against Juventus meant his days were always numbered at the Viola.

The opportunity to re-unite with former coach and father figure Giampiero Ventura was too good to turn down for the man affectionately known as 'Winston' and in August 2012 he signed for Torino on a co-ownership deal. For the Granata, this was their one marquee signing ahead of their return to the Italian top flight, whilst for Cerci, this was one final opportunity to fulfil the potential that had been obvious since making his debut as a sixteen year old at Roma.

In his first season at Toro, Cerci made a positive contribution with eight goals and eight assists as the Granata narrowly avoided relegation. The former Roma man also received international recognition and was called up to Italy's Confederations cup squad that summer, despite only making his azzurri debut a few months previously.

However, it was in his second season with the club that the 'Henry of Valmontone' really showed what he was capable of. With coach Giampiero Ventura switching to a 3-5-2 formation, Cerci was moved from his favoured position on the right wing to become a striker.

Despite a slow start, Ventura's decision paid off as Cerci formed a formidable strike partnership with Ciro Immobile (who would also later go on to represent his country). Towards the end of the season, with Toro fighting for a Europa League spot, Cerci had his most memorable moment in a Torino shirt by scoring an injury time winner against Genoa only seconds after Immobile had equalised.

In the final game of the 2013-14 season, Toro needed to beat Cerci's former club Fiorentina in order to guarantee qualification for Europe for the first time in 20 years. Torino's number eleven was instrumental in helping the Granata come from behind on two occasions, and with the score level at 2-2, Toro were awarded a penalty in injury time and the script was written for Cerci to make himself a legend.

However, the unthinkable happened. Fiorentina goalkeeper Antonio Rosati saved his penalty and the game finished 2-2. At the final whistle, Cerci was inconsolable as he fell to the turf and (like many of the supporters) was unable to hold back the tears. Then incredibly, the Toro fans began to sing his name, despite thinking their chances of European football were now over, they were grateful for what he had done for their club over the past two seasons and knew that without his goals and assists they would have had no chance of returning to European football.

However, this story took another dramatic twist after it was revealed that sixth placed Parma had failed to pay their tax bill and were excluded from competing in European competition by the Italian FA. That meant that it was seventh placed Torino who, in rather exceptional circumstances, had qualified for the Europa League.

Perhaps naively, I honestly believe that had Toro not received this reprieve then Alessio Cerci may have chosen to stay for at least one more season to make amends for his missed penalty, and to repay the fans who had supported him in arguably the most difficult moment of his career.

However in hindsight, that missed penalty is now irrelevant, and this summer Cerci asked to be given the opportunity to leave the club. This was granted on the final day of the transfer window as he completed a move to Spanish champions Athletico Madrid.

Whilst as a Torino supporter, I am disappointed that Alessio has left the club, I personally do not begrudge him for leaving, as I understand that the career of a professional footballer is extremely short, and the chance to test himself in the Champions League may not come around again.

The Granata's decision to replace Cerci with Amauri has already come under much criticism, but that is another discussion for another day.

But thank you for the memories Alessio, thank you very much!

Forza Toro

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Torino 0-0 Inter

Torino earnt a deserved point on the opening day of the Serie A season on Sunday evening, but were left to rue Marcelo Larrondo' first half penalty miss.

The Granata lined up in the usual 3-5-2 formation, with the surprise name in the starting line up being that of Alessandro Gazzi, who had been linked with a move away from the club.

Toro were given an excellent opportunity to take the lead in only the 20th minute of the game, when debutant Nemanja Vidic was harshly penalised for a shirt tug on Fabio Quagliarella in the area. Despite the fact that Quagliarella and Omar El Kaddouri have converted spot kicks this season, it was Marcelo Larrondo who stepped up and the Argentine saw his penalty saved by Samir Handanovic.

Inter struggled to create chances in the opening half, although Andrea Ranocchia should have done better with a header from a corner.

In the second half, Larrondo almost made amends for his missed penalty when his knockdown found Quagliarella, but the veteran striker's shot went narrowly wide of the post.

Substitute Daniel Osvaldo was a goal for his new club after his shot was well saved by Daniele Padelli, and Toro were thankful for Alessandro Gazzi's sensational last ditch tackle to deny Gary Medel from converting the rebound.

With only seconds remaining, Inter's Nemanja Vidic was shown a controversial red card for sarcastically applauding referee Daniele Doveri, however both sides had to settle for a point.

Forza Toro

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Torino v Inter Preview

The Serie A season kicks off this weekend and Torino face a difficult home game against Inter on Sunday evening.

This summer has been a difficult one for the Granata, with last season's capocannoniere Ciro Immobile departing the club for Borussia Dortmund, whilst their has been constant speculation over the future of Alessio Cerci.

That speculation is sure to continue as once again Cerci is absent from the Torino squad, but with only three days remaining of the transfer window remaining, time is running out for clubs to meet Torino's €20m valuation of the player.

Argentine Juan Sanchez Miño is named in a Torino squad for the first time, as the player has finally received his Italian passport after a number of delays. With Paulo Barreto injured, Venezuelan striker Josef Martinez could be given his first start for the club, whilst Antonio Nocerino should return to the starting eleven in place of the suspended Giuseppe Vives.

Opponents Inter have also had a busy summer in the transfer market, and Nemanja Vidic, Gary Medel and Yann M'Villa are all in line to make their Serie A debuts.

Prediction 
Torino 0-2 Inter

Torino 1-0 RNK Split

Torino progressed to the Europa League group stage after a nervy 1-0 victory over Croatians RNK Split on Thursday evening.

Fabio Quagliarella made his first start for Toro, whilst Nicola Maksimovic and Marco Benassi were also surprise starters ahead of Cesare Bovo and Antonio Nocerino.

Omar El Kaddouri almost caught out Andrija Vuković with a free kick at his near post, but the goalkeeper who impressed many in the first leg was equal to the task.

Torino had Daniele Padelli to thank moments afterwards, when he managed to divert Mate Bilić's close range header wide of the target. Almost immediately after that near escape, the Granata were awarded a penalty when El Kaddouri's low cross hit the arm of defender Ivan Ibriks.

The Moroccan international stepped up to take the penalty and calmly sent the impressive Vuković the wrong way.

Fabio Quagliarella, who has a reputation of scoring spectacular goals almost added another to his collection, but his effort from nearly 40 yards was tipped over the bar. The former Italian international came even closer to scoring just before the break but his volley went narrowly wide of the post.

Toro continued to create chances in the second half, but were unable to put the tie beyond doubt with substitute Josef Martinez coming closest to extend their advantage. This failure to put the game to bed lead to a nervy last ten minutes for the home side, but much to the fans' relief they were able to hold on.

In Friday's group stage draw, the Granata were handed a favourable draw as they will face Danish side København, Belgian side Club Brugge and finally Finnish champions HJK. This draw may give the Granata an added belief that their European adventure may extend into 2015.

Forza Toro

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Torino V RNK Split Preview

Torino are just 90 minutes away from the Europa League group stage, but they will have to beat RNK Split on Thursday evening in order to progress.

After a 0-0 draw in Croatia a week ago, it could be a nerve-racking night for the Granata, who will be without striker Marcelo Larrondo who picked up an injury in training earlier this week. 

That should mean that Fabio Quagliarella will make his first start for Toro since re-joining the club, and he could be partnered by Venezuelan international Josef Martinez up front.

Prediction
Torino 2-0 RNK Split