Thursday, 22 December 2011

Torino FC Christmas Quiz 2011

As it is Christmas, I thought it would be fun to get into the festive spirit by having a quiz. Email your answers to and whoever gets the most correct answers will receive a prize in the New Year. Competition closes on December 31st.

Good Luck.

1. In what year were Torino FC founded?
2. At which club did Angelo Ogbonna once have a loan spell at?
3. How many goals did Valentino Mazzola score for Italy?
4. Which current Torino player began his career at Chelsea?
5. Who did Torino lose to in the 1992 UEFA Cup final?
6. Who is the only man to have managed both Torino and Southampton?
7. Who scored Torino’s first goal of the 2011/12 league season?
8. How many goals did current Juventus player Fabio Quagliarella score for Torino?
9. Which current Torino player once had a spell at Derby County?
10. Which three teams have Torino lost to this season?
11. In which season did Torino have a scudetto revoked?
12. How many times was Paolo Pulici Serie A top scorer?
13. Which Italian World Cup Winner signed for Torino in 2006?
14. Former Torino winger Gigi Meroni was often compared with which player?
15. What nationality was former Torino midfielder Enzo Scifo?
16. How many times have Torino won the scudetto?
17. Which team played Torino in the aftermath of the Superga disaster in order to raise money for the victim’s families?
18. How many goals did Rolando Bianchi score for Torino in Serie A in the 2008/09 season?
19. Who is the odd one out and why? – Gaby Mudingayi, Andrea Mantovani and Alessandro Matri
20. How many goals did Former England defender Tony Dorigo score for Torino?
21. Why was Torino’s match against Padova abandoned earlier this season?
22. In the 2007/8 season, Torino drew 4-4 having been 4-1 down against which team?
23. And who scored two goals in this match for Torino?
24. Which team did ‘Il Grande Torino’ beat 10-0 in the 1947/48 season?
25. When did Torino last beat Juventus?
26. Which current Torino player was born in Varese?
27. How many goals did Nottingham Forest flop Andrea Silenzi score for Torino?
28. Who is Torino’s all-time appearance maker?
29. Against which country did Alessandro Rosina make his Italy debut?
30. Which former Torino player was named African footballer of the year on three occasions?

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Mid-Season Review - Player Ratings

As we have nearly reached the half way stage of the Serie B season, I thought it would be appropriate to rate how each member of the Torino squad has done so far this season. Let me know if you disagree with any of the ratings.

Ferdinando Coppola - 6

Coppola has had a mixed start to his Torino career, and he has certainly been at fault for a number of goals this campaign. That being said, it is hard to be too critical of a goalkeeper who has only conceded eleven goals in 20 matches this season.

Danilo D’Ambrosio - 6.5

After a disappointing 2010/11 season, D’Ambrosio has bounced back this campaign and has looked a much better player. There have previously been question marks over his defensive capabilities, but he has improved in that part of the game, and also popped up to score a vital winning goal against Reggina.

Matteo Darmian - 7

Darmian’s score would undoubtedly be much higher had he not suffered an injury against Bari in November. A solid right back who is a defender first and an attacker second, he also chipped in with a winning goal against Empoli in October.

Angelo Ogbonna - 8.5

Angelo finally made his long-awaited Italy debut in November, and if he continues his impressive performances in a Torino shirt there will certainly be many more to come. The talented centre back has hardly put a foot wrong this season, and was outstanding when Torino beat Sampdoria away from home in September.

Valerio Di Cesare - 6.5

The former Vicenza defender hasn’t always been an automatic starter in the team this season, but he has always done well when called upon. In the second half of the season, I would expect to see Di Cesare establish himself as a first choice centre back alongside Angelo Ogbonna.

Francesco Pratali - 6

One of the few players who remain from Torino’s Serie A days, Francesco Pratali is very much a reserve squad player nowadays. That being said, despite only appearing for 307 minutes so far this season, he hasn’t let anybody down when called upon.

Kamil Glik - 6

If I was compiling this list a week ago, Kamil Glik would probably have a higher score than this, but sadly his mistake against Modena is still fresh in the memory. A no-nonsense defender, the Polish defender did provide a valuable assist for Rolando Bianchi's winning goal against Juve Stabia.

Luciano Zavagno - 6

The experienced Argentinean has been second choice left back for much of this season but did provide a vital assist for Danilo D’Ambrosio’s winning goal against Reggina.

Alessandro Parisi - 6

The former Bari full back had a slow start to the season, as he took a while to regain his match fitness. However, he has improved with every game, and even scored the winning goal against Livorno.

Migjen Basha - 7.5

Albanian-Swiss midfielder Migjen Basha signed on loan from Atalanta in the summer, and he has proven to be a fantastic acquisition. A tough tackling player with boundless amounts of energy, Basha’s central midfield partnership with Manuel Iori has been one of the key factors in Torino’s success so far this season.

Manuel Iori - 7.5

It may be unfair to describe Manuel Iori as ‘a poor man’s Andrea Pirlo’ but it would be an accurate description for the deep-lying playmaker. His impressive performances have resulted in him being linked with a move to Fiorentina, so Toro will have to hope that they can keep a hold of him in January.

Biagio Pagano - 5

The former Livorno midfielder missed pre-season due to injury, and has hardly featured for Torino so far this campaign. Therefore, it may be a little unfair to give the winger such a low grade, but he hasn’t done anything of note in his 109 minutes on the pitch this season.

Alen Stevanovic - 7

The Serbian winger has been a revelation this season, and looks a different player to the one who was loaned out to Toronto last year. His incisive wing play has been one of the highlights of the season so far, and in the last game of 2011, he scored a goal of the season contender against Modena.

Giuseppe Vives - 6

The former Lecce captain has struggled to command a regular starting birth since signing in the summer. However, he has still made a vital contribution to the team when Giampiero Ventura has decided to play a 4-3-3 formation, and Vives was particularly impressive against Pescara in December.

Stefano Guberti - 6

Much was expected of Stefano Guberti when he signed on loan from Roma in the summer, but unfortunately, he suffered a serious injury after just four games of the season. The winger should return at some point in 2012, and his quality could be vital in the run-in.

Sergiu Suciu - 6

Romanian midfielder Suciu impressed on loan at Gubbio last season, and this campaign, he has finally been given a chance in the Torino first team. After scoring a vital equaliser against Sampdoria in September, he unfortunately suffered an injury in that match that sidelined him until recently. Whilst he probably won’t be a regular in the second half of the season, he could prove to be a useful member of the squad.

Juan Surraco - 5.5

The Uruguayan winger impressed on loan at Livorno last season, but has failed to replicate that form in a Torino shirt since he signed in the summer. However, it can be said that he has rarely looked fully fit, and the Winter break could give him an opportunity to regain his fitness.

Nnamdi Oduamadi - 6

Pacey winger Nnamdi Oduamadi signed on loan from AC Milan in the summer, and he had a perfect start to his Torino career by scoring the winner against Ascoli on the opening day. Since that game, the Nigerian has struggled with injuries, but could prove to be an important player in 2012, especially by using his blistering pace against tiring defences.

Giuseppe De Feudis - 5.5

One of the few players who impressed last season, De Feudis was re-signed towards the end of the transfer window, but has had to make do with being a reserve player this campaign. The former Cesena player has only appeared in two matches this season, and may look to move on in January

Mirco Antenucci - 6

The former Catania player has found himself playing on the Left Wing on occasion this season due to a number of injuries and has done well in that position. However, he will probably be disappointed with his tally of just two goals in 19 matches, and will look to improve these statistics in the New Year.

Rolando Bianchi - 6.5

So far this season, Toro Captain Rolando Bianchi has been unable to find the net as regularly as he has done in the previous two seasons. However, he has still managed to score vital winning goals against Sampdoria, Vicenza and Juve Stabia, although the fact he hasn’t scored since October 15th continues to be a worry.

Alessandro Sgrigna - 6.5

After being used as a winger for much of last season, Sgrigna has finally been deployed in his favoured position this season. The former Vicenza striker has scored four goals so far this season, including a brace in the impressive 4-1 victory against Pescara.

Giulio Ebagua - 6

Much was expected of Giulio Ebagua when he signed for his boyhood club in the summer, and although he has scored three goals for the club, there is still plenty of room of improvement. One of the most impressive aspects of his game is his hardworking nature, and on occasion, he could perhaps be guilty of trying too hard - although it is a little unfair to criticise any striker who does that.

Simone Verdi - 6

Much like Oduamadi, Simone Verdi had a bright start to his Torino career as he won a penalty in the opening day victory at Ascoli. However, since that match, he has struggled to earn a regular place in the starting eleven. But the former AC Milan winger is still young and has plenty of time to improve.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Modena 2-1 Torino

Despite taking the lead thanks to Alen Stevanovic's wonder goal, Torino lost concentration and conceded two late goals to suffer their third defeat of the season.

Toro made just one change from the side that convincingly beat Pescara last weekend, as Simone Verdi replaced Giuseppe Vives, as the away side reverted to their normal 4-2-4 formation.

It was the home side who made the better start, and within the opening couple of minutes, Francesco Stanco was unlucky to see his diving header hit the bar. Torino responded well as they also hit the woodwork from Simone Verdi's curling free kick.

Alessandro Sgrigna - who scored two goals against Pescara last Saturday, showed some nice footwork outside of the area before unleashing a fierce left footed shot that was well saved by Modena keeper Nicholas Caglioni. And Sgrigna came close to opening the scoring moments later, but his header from Alessandro Parisi's cross was tipped over the bar.

The former Vicenza striker was having a great first half, and he turned provided for Torino's next opportunity. His fantastic left footed cross found strike partner Rolando Bianchi, but his header was off target. The form of Torino's captain is becoming a worry, as Toro's top scorer for the past two seasons has not scored since mid-October.

Ten minutes before half time, Torino took the lead with an early contender for goal of the season. Manuel Iori found Alen Stevanovic with an inch-perfect cross field pass, and the former Inter winger fired a magnificent curling shot into the top corner from 30 yards. Torino had chances before half time to extend their lead, especially through Simone Verdi who could have done better when well placed. Modena also had a chance before the break, but Angelo Ogbonna did well to block Davide Di Gennaro's shot.

Torino were in control of the second half without really creating any clear goalscoring opportunities until the 75th minute, when a mix up between Kamil Glik and Ferdinando Coppola resulted in Giuseppe Greco being brought down and a penalty being awarded. However, for some inexplicable reason, it was Coppola who sent off despite it being quite clear that it was the Polish defended who had committed the foul.

Greco picked himself off the floor to convert the penalty, as he sent Toro's substitute goalkeeper Davide Morello the wrong way. And incredibly, with five minutes remaining, the home side got a winning goal against Torino's ten men when Maurizio Ciaramitaro's scuffed shot somehow found its way into the bottom corner.

Torino will certainly be disappointed to lose their last match of 2011, especially after taking the lead. At half time in this match, Torino had a seven point lead at the top of the table, but it could now just be one point if Hellas Verona beat Varese on Sunday afternoon. That being said, Torino have had a fantastic start to the season, and are certainly on course to gain promotion in 2012.

Forza Torino

Friday, 16 December 2011

Modena V Torino Preview

Torino will be looking to end 2011 on a high with as they face a trip to Modena in their last game before Serie B takes a break for the festive period.

The city of Modena is perhaps best known for being the 'Supercar Capital' of the world, as well as being the birthplace of Luciano Pavarotti and Panini football stickers. In recent times their football team has not enjoyed much success, and they have not been in Serie A since 1964.

This season, the home side find themselves embroiled in a relegation battle having only won three games all season. Modena have also lost their last three home games, which included heavy defeats to both Sassuolo and Vicenza, so Toro should fancy their chances of victory.

The away side will be without Valerio Di Cesare who is suffering from flu , whilst Angelo Ogbonna, Alessandro Parisi, Migjen Basha, Alen Stevanovic, Alessandro Sgrigna and Rolando Bianchi should all return to the starting eleven after they all missed the "defeat" to Padova in the 14 minute match on Wednesday.

Forza Torino

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Padova 1-0 Torino (Last 14 Minutes)

Finally, eleven days after these two sides first met - the Padova v Torino saga was finally completed as the home side managed to hold to their advantage from the first match to claim a 1-0 victory.

As you will remember, the original match was abandoned after 76 minutes due to floodlight failure, and it was eventually decided that the remaining fourteen minutes would be played on Wednesday afternoon.

Giampiero Ventura resisted the temptation to play a team full of attacking minded players - and instead lined up in his usual 4-4-2 (or 4-2-4) formation with Simone Verdi, Nnamdi Oduamadi, Guilio Ebagua and Biagio Pagano leading the line.

Torino had a number of chances to get an equaliser, with Valerio Di Cesare coming close, but he could only volley Manuel Iori's free kick over the bar. Padova also came close to extending their lead, but former Toro loanee Dejan Lazarevic had his shot blocked by a defender.

In the closing stages of the mini match, Torino brought on Kamil Glik as an auxiliary striker, but despite a number of half-hearted penalty appeals, Toro could not find an equaliser.

Whilst Toro will be disappointed to lose their second match of the season, although given the unusual circumstances surrounding this match, they shouldn't lose any momentum from this defeat and should be able to continue their good form. And Torino can now concentrate on there next match against Modena on Saturday - the last game before the winter break.

Forza Torino

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Padova 1-0 Torino (Last 14 Minutes) Preview

On Monday afternoon, Torino's appeal to have a 3-0 victory awarded in their favour (after the original match between the two teams was abandoned due to floodlight failure) was turned down.

That means that on Wednesday afternoon, Torino will travel to Padova in order to play the last 14 minutes of the match, that currently stands at 1-0 to the home side.

So what tactics does a team employ for a 14 minute game of football? With Torino 1-0 down they may decide that they have nothing to lose and go all out in search of an equaliser. Whilst Padova may be content to defend their lead and attempt to hit Torino on the counter attack.

The fact that Giampiero Ventura has not even included Alen Stevanovic, Angelo Ogbonna and Rolando Bianchi in the squad for this 'mini' match suggests that Toro are not willing to risk serious injuries to key players in a match the players will spend more time on the coach to Padova than on the football pitch.

Instead Torino have turned to the younger and less established members of the squad such as Simone Verdi and Nnamdi Oduamadi in order to get something from this match. Primavera products Abou Diop, Emanuele Gatto and Marco Chiosa have also been included in the squad and their eagerness to impress could be vital.

The three players who were originally suspended for this match, Parisi, Vives and Basha are all ineligible for this game, as are Mirco Antenucci and Alessandro Sgrigna as they had already been substituted by the time the floodlights failed - yet Abou Diop, who wasn't even in Padova at the time of the original match, is eligible.

Without having to conserve energy for an entire 90 minutes we should expect a high tempo encounter, that at times, could resemble a basketball match than a game of football.

Whilst it is farcical that Torino find themselves in this situation, lets hope Toro have enough time to get something out of this match, and earn a vital point in their quest for promotion. And if nothing else, I'm sure this saga will provide an intriguing trivia question for years to come.

Forza Torino

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Torino 4-2 Pescara

Torino recorded their most impressive victory of the season, as they thrashed Pescara 4-2 to maintain their four point lead at the top of Serie B.

Torino made three changes from the abandoned match against Padova, as the three players who were suspended for that match - Alessandro Parisi, Migjen Basha and Giuseppe Vives came into the starting eleven. The inclusion of Vives meant that Torino did not play their usual 4-4-2 formation, and instead lined up in a 4-3-3 in order to match up with their opponents.

In the opening stages, Torino had a very good case for a penalty turned down when Giuseppe Vives made a run into the area and the midfielder seemed to be upended by Damiano Zanon, but for some reason the referee did not point to the spot. It was then the visitors turn to feel aggrieved when Ciro Immobile had a goal disallowed for offside, but replays showed that the goal should have stood.

Thanks to the open attacking game that the visitors were playing, Torino were able to create numerous chances, with Rolando Bianchi, Alessandro Sgrigna and Alen Stevanovic all going close. Then seven minutes before the break, Torino took the lead when Manuel Iori's floated cross found Migjen Basha, whose deft touch diverted it into the net - his first goal for the club.

Minutes later, Torino should have doubled their lead when Alen Stevanovic got to the byline and crossed for Rolando Bianchi, but somehow, the Torino captain failed to make contact with the ball from two yards out, and instead he could only collide with the post.

It looked as though that miss could prove to be crucial for Torino, as just three minutes into the second half, Pescara were level. On loan Juventus striker Ciro Immobile ran past Kamil Glik with ease before opening out his body to curl the ball into the bottom corner.

However, Pescara were not on level terms for long, as just five minutes later Torino regained the lead in bizarre circumstances. A long ball by Danilo D'Ambrosio was intercepted by a diving header from the onrushing Pescara keeper Luca Anania, but the ball fell to Giuseppe Vives, and with the goalkeeper off his line, Vives kept his cool and side footed the ball into the empty net from 35 yards.

Ten minutes later, Torino extended their lead, this time Danilo D'Ambrosio found Alessandro Sgrigna, who broke the offside trap and was given time and space before calmly finishing past Anania. And the former Vicenza striker scored again to put the result beyond any doubt, when Migjen Basha's through ball exploited the high line of the Pescara defence one more, and Sgrigna rounded the keeper to claim his second goal of the match.

Toro will be disappointed that their concentration levels dropped in the closing stages, as in injury time, a careless back pass from D'Ambrosio was intercepted by Immobile, as he scored his eleventh goal of the season. However, Torino can be pleased with the performance as they convincingly beat one of their promotion rivals, although they were aided by some terrible defending by the visitors.

Forza Torino

Friday, 9 December 2011

Torino V Pescara Preview

After the controversy surrounding last weekend's abandoned match against Padova, Torino will be wanting to return to normality on Saturday afternoon when they face Pescara at home.

A decision has still not been made regarding the conclusion of the Padova match, and although tentative arrangements have been made to play the remaining fourteen minutes of that match on December 14th, although that may be postponed if Torino's appeal is successful, and we should know more on Monday.

It is a shame that last weekends abandonment could overshadow a fascinating encounter against third placed Pescara, who are coached by Zdeněk Zeman. The Czech tactician is one of the most recognisable figures in Italian football, and his teams are famed for their ultra attacking style. That has certainly been the case this season, as Pescara have already scored 38 goals this season (Torino have only scored 20), with 27 of those goals coming from strike trio Marco Sansovini, Ciro Immobile and Lorenzo Insigne.

After being suspended last weekend, Giuseppe Vives, Migjen Basha and Alessandro Parisi will all return to the squad and all three could come into the starting eleven. Rolando Bianchi, who returned from his own suspension last weekend, will be looking to find his scoring boots once again, as il capitano has not scored since October 15th.

Forza Torino

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Padova 1-0 Torino (Abandoned after 76 Minutes)

Torino's match against Padova finished prematurely and in farcical circumstances on Saturday afternoon, as the game was abandoned after 76 minutes due to continued floodlight failure, with the home side 1-0 up.

Whilst match began in torrential rain, the first half was able to start without any problems, with Torino including Rolando Bianchi in the side after suspension, and Giuseppe De Feudis was given his first start of the season in midfield.

Padova started the match brightly, and Daniele Cacia twice should have opened the scoring for the home side, especially on the second occasion when he was one on one with Ferdinando Coppola but somehow managed to put it wide.

The problems first arose at the beginning of the second half, as just before the two teams came out onto the pitch, the floodlights turned off for the first time. However, after a slight delay the second half resumed, although soon afterwards, play was halted again as the floodlights turned off for a second time.

And it was in these uncertain circumstances that Padova took the lead, as Francesco Ruopolo diverted Francesco Renzetti's cross past a helpless Coppola. Although due to the constant interruptions, it was perhaps understandable that Torino conceded at this time.

Torino made two changes as they looked to get back on level terms, with Giulio Ebagua and Simone Verdi coming on, and within seconds they combined to set up Rolando Bianchi, whose shot was well saved by Mattia Perin. And the home side's young goalkeeper also did well to deny Angelo Ogbonna from the resulting corner.

With fifteen minutes remaining, the pitch was plunged into darkness once again, and this time the floodlights did not regain power and the match was abandoned. Initially, the original plan was to play the remaining fifteen minutes on Sunday afternoon, although Torino were unhappy with this idea, as they believed that the whole second half should be replayed as that was when the floodlight problems arose.

Therefore, the decision on when the remainder of this match will be replayed has been delayed, and there has even been some discussion that Torino could be awarded a 3-0 victory because it was the home side who had the problems. This does seem a little unlikely, as well as being a little unfair on Padova - although to be honest, I don't think any Toro fan would complain too much if they were awarded the points.

Friday, 2 December 2011

Padova V Torino Preview

In the final game of last season, it was Torino's defeat to Padova that ended their hopes of gaining promotion via the playoffs. This season, Torino are aiming for automatic promotion and will be looking to maintain or even extend their five point lead at the top of Serie B, with victory against Padova on Saturday.

Torino are boosted by the return of Rolando Bianchi, who is back with the squad after serving a two match suspension. However, Toro will be without midfield duo Migjen Basha and Giuseppe Vives, who will have to serve their own suspensions after both having gained their fourth yellow cards of the season against Livorno last Saturday.

Padova are currently seven points behind Torino in fourth place, and head into this game on the back of an impressive 1-0 away win against fellow promotion contenders Sassuolo.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Torino 1-0 Livorno

For long spells of this match, it looked as though Torino would be heading for a fourth consecutive draw, until Alessandro Parisi's late strike gave Toro a crucial victory.

Torino started the match with a 4-3-3 formation, with Giuseppe Vives brought in at the last minuted in order to strengthen the midfield against a Livorno side who seemed to be playing for a draw from the outset. And it was the former Lecce midfielder who had the first chance for Torino, but his shot from 25 yards was palmed away by Livorno keeper Francesco Bardi.

Livorno had a chance of their own when Torino failed to clear a corner, but Federico Dionisi's speculative overhead kick went over the bar. Giuseppe Vives was impressing in midfield for the home side, and some good work by the veteran put Mirco Antenucci through on goal, but his shot was saved by Bardi's outstretched leg.

Torino's best chance of the first half fell to Giulio Ebagua, but he could only divert Danilo D'Ambrosio's free kick wide of the post.

Toro made one change at half time with Simone Verdi replacing the unusually quiet Alen Stevanovic, but Torino could still not find the breakthrough, although Kamil Glik did come close with a header, but it was straight at Bardi. Tempers were flaring on the pitch and off it, as both Giampiero Ventura and Walter Novellino were sent from the touchline after an argument.

The turning point of the match occurred with eleven minutes remaining, when Livorno defender Alessandro Lambrughi was dismissed for two yellow cards, and Torino capitalised almost instantly. Two minutes later, Simone Verdi's corner fell to Alessandro Parisi on the edge of the area, who took a touch before unleashing a fierce left footed strike into the corner of the net.

Torino had chances to extend their lead in the closing stages, with Mirco Antenucci coming close, but Parisi's goal was enough to give Toro all three points. A victory in this match was crucial, ahead of two difficult fixtures against fellow promotion candidates Padova and Pescara, and thanks to the latter only managing to draw with Vicenza, Toro are five points clear at the top of Serie B.

Forza Torino

Friday, 25 November 2011

Torino V Livorno Preview

After three games without a win, Torino are desperate for a victory and will look to gain all three points when they face Livorno at the Stadio Olimpico on Saturday afternoon.

Toro are once again without captain Rolando Bianchi - although his suspension has been reduced to two games, so he will return to the squad next week for the match against Padova.

Bianchi's continued absence will not help Toro's recent goalscoring problems, as they have scored just two goals in their last four matches. Matteo Darmian is once again absent from the squad due to injury, but Danilo D'Ambrosio had recovered from the slight knock that he picked up against Crotone.

Their opponents Livorno, who are coached by ex Toro boss Walter Novellino have had an indifferent start to the season, and find themselves in 11th place, fifteen points behind Torino. Livorno also have a number of former Torino players amongst their ranks, including Luca Belingheri and World Cup Winner Simone Barone - although both players were unused substitutes in Livorno's last match, a home defeat to Ascoli.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Crotone 0-0 Torino

Torino drew for the third successive game, as they could only draw 0-0 with Crotone on a difficult pitch, and their lead at the top of Serie B has been cut to three points.

With Matteo Darmian out injured, Danilo D'Ambrosio replaced him at right back, whilst Angelo Ogbonna returned in the centre of defence. Due to Rolando Bianchi's suspension, Giulio Ebagua started the game upfront with Alessandro Sgrigna.

In a quiet first half, the home side had the first chance, but Nicola Sansone's long range shot was turned over the bar by Ferdinando Coppola. Torino were struggling to create any clear cut chances, and it was Crotone who came closest once again, as Sansone was unlucky to see his curling shot rebound off the post.

Alessandro Parisi had Torino's best chance of the first half, but his half-volley from the edge of the area went wide of the post, and the two teams went in at half time level.

The curse of the Torino right back continued, as Danilo D'Ambrosio went off injured at half time and he was replaced by Valerio Di Cesare.

Torino came had the best opportunity of the match when nice interplay left Mirco Antenucci in space in the area, but instead of shooting himself, he tried to set up Giulio Ebagua, whose shot was blocked by the Crotone defence.

Ferdinando Coppola excelled himself once again, as he made a turned Caetano's long range shot over the bar. Nnamdi Oduamadi and Simone Verdi came on for Toro as they tried to find a winning goal, but apart from a few crosses into the area that narrowly missed their target, Toro failed to create any clear cut chances, and were forced to settle for a draw.

Whilst Torino have still only lost one game this season, Toro fans may be worried that they have only scored two goals in their last four matches - and Toro will have to find a way to score more goals if they want to get back to winning ways.

Forza Torino

Friday, 18 November 2011

Crotone V Torino Preview

Torino embark on the long journey south to Crotone looking to get back to winning ways after successive draws against Sassuolo and Bari.

Angelo Ogbonna has returned from international duty and will therefore play against the club he played on loan for in the 2007/8 season. The talented defender will captain the team in the absence of Rolando Bianchi, who will miss this game (and the next two) because of suspension.

With Bianchi out of the team, Mirco Antenucci could revert to his favoured position upfront, alongside either Alessandro Sgrigna or Giulio Ebagua, and Simone Verdi could come into the side on the wing.

Crotone have had an average start to the season and are currently in 15th place in the table, and they have only gained one point in their last three matches. However, the last game that they won was at home against Padova, which shows they can get results against the better teams in the division.

Toro have not beaten Crotone away from home in a decade, so lets hope that can be rectified on Saturday.

Forza Torino

Monday, 14 November 2011

Torino 1-1 Bari

Despite dominating the match, Torino could only manage a 1-1 draw in an ill-tempered match with Giampiero Ventura's former side Bari.

With Angelo Ogbonna away on international duty, Valerio Di Cesare and Francesco Pratali were the central defense partnership. whilst Manuel Iori returned to the midfield and Alessandro Sgrigna was preferred to Giulio Ebagua upfront.

Toro came close to opening the scoring in the opening stages, as Alessandro Sgrigna's corner found Francesco Pratali, but his header has volleyed over the crossbar by Andrea De Falco. It was Pratali's central defensive partner Valerio Di Cesare who had the next opportunity, but after a scramble in the six yard box, his scuffed shot was cleared off the line.

Torino continued to dominate, and it was Alessandro Sgrigna who came closest to scoring, when Bari failed to clear a corner, but his exquisite volley was saved by the foot of Bari keeper Eugenio Lamanna.

Then five minutes before half time, totally against the run of play, Torino were hit by the ultimate sucker punch as Bari took the lead. Full back Luca Ceppitelli's cross was deflected into the path of Marcos De Paula, who volleyed it into the net.

However, Torino were not behind for long as ten minutes into the second half, the Granata equalised. Manuel Iori's through ball found Mirco Antenucci who was being played onside by Diego Polenta, and Antenucci rounded the keeper with ease to score.

It was a quiet night for Toro skipper Rolando Bianchi, and he only had one chance in the game, but was unable to latch onto Francesco Pratali's long pass - and we will see later how the former Manchester City striker's night got even worse.

Bari were reduced to ten men when Diego Polenta - who had been given a torrid game by Alen Stevanovic, was dismissed for two yellow cards. However, ten minutes later, Torino were also reduced to ten men as Rolando Bianchi was given a straight red card for an elbow on Bari's Martino Borghese.

Borghese and Bianchi had been involved in a physical battle for the entire match, with the Bari defender consistently getting away with fouling the Torino striker, and when Bianchi finally retaliated, he was given his marching orders. It looked as though Borghese was holding the striker, and Bianchi then raised his arms in attempt to free himself, but it certainly did look like an elbow - though it must be said, Borghese deserves an Oscar nomination for his play acting, as his overreaction played a huge part in getting the Torino striker sent off.

Valerio Di Cesare twice came close to scoring a winning goal for Torino, but they had to make do with a point - and they now face the prospect of being without Rolando Bianchi for the next couple of games due to his suspension.

Forza Torino

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Torino V Bari Preview

Torino coach Giampiero Ventura will come face to face with the side who sacked him in February, as Toro play Bari on Sunday evening.

Ventura was sacked by Bari after he was unable to replicate the success he enjoyed with the club in his first season in charge, when he guided them to an impressive 10th place finish.

Torino will be without Angelo Ogbonna, who made his long-awaited Italy debut last night as the Azzurri beat Poland 2-0. Toro will be boosted by the fact that influential play maker Manuel Iori has returned to the squad after serving a one match suspension, and he should come straight back into the starting eleven.

Since their relegation, Bari have encountered some financial difficulties and that may explain their relatively poor start to the season, as although they are in 9th place, they have already lost six times this season.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Angelo Ogbonna Makes Italy Debut

Torino defender Angelo Ogbonna made his long-awaited Italy debut, as Italy beat Euro 2012 co-hosts Poland 2-0 in Wrocław.

As you may remember, Angelo was originally called up to the Italy squad by Cesare Prandelli for the friendly match against Ireland in June, but he has had to wait until now to finally make his debut.

Ogbonna gained his first cap as a substitute, replacing Domenico Criscito in the 77th minute with Italy two goals to the good thanks to strikes from Mario Balotelli and Giampaolo Pazzini. He played in his usual position of centre back, as the more experienced Giorgio Chiellini moved to left back.

Understandably, Angelo looked slightly nervous as he made his international debut, but apart from his first touch as an Azzurri player - a poor back-pass to Gianluigi Buffon, he looked relatively assured and helped Italy to maintain a clean sheet and win the match.

His debut was tarnished slightly as he received a yellow card (somewhat harshly) in the 92nd minute, but that should not take anything away from the fact, that a player who has played the last three seasons in Serie B has managed to become the first Torino player to play for Italy since Alessandro Rosina in 2007.

Lets hope he will continue his impressive performances with Torino when he returns from international duty, and gain a place in Prandelli's final 23 man squad that he will take to Euro 2012.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Sassuolo 0-0 Torino

Torino increased their lead at the top of the table to five points thanks to 0-0 draw away to Sassuolo on Saturday afternoon.

Toro had to make one enforced change from the side that beat Reggina as Manuel Iori was suspended, whilst Rolando Bianchi also came into the starting eleven after being on the bench in mid-week.

Both teams observed a minutes silence before the game, in memory of the victims of the floods in Genoa, a cause particularly close to the heart of Torino coach Giampiero Ventura as he was born in the city.

It was the home side who had the first chance of the match, as Gianluca Sansone latched on to a through ball, but his left footed volley was well saved by Ferdinando Coppola. In a quiet first half for the away side, Toro's best two chances fell to Rolando Bianchi - the first a volley from 20 yards that went over the bar, and the second, a low free kick that was saved by Alberto Pomini.

Sassuolo came close to opening the scoring in the second half, but midfielder Isaac Cofie (who had a brief spell at Toro last season) saw his shot sail over the bar.With 30 minutes left, Sansone resumed his individual duel with Ferdinando Coppola, but once again the Toro goalkeeper came out on top, as he turned Sansone's long range effort around the post.

Alessandro Sgrigna replaced Giulio Ebagua as Torino looked for a goal, and Sgrigna did come close, but his shot from distance whistled narrowly past the post.

In the end, neither team could find a breakthrough and the game ended 0-0, a result that suited both sides. Elsewhere in Serie B, Pescara lost to Livorno that meant Torino increased their lead at the top of the table to five points ahead of the home game against Bari next Sunday evening.

Forza Torino

Friday, 4 November 2011

Sassuolo V Torino

Fresh from their impressive late victory against Reggina on Tuesday, Torino make the relatively short journey to Modena to take on Sassuolo on Saturday afternoon.

Sassuolo have made a surprisingly good start to the season, and are currently just two places below Toro in third position. Much of the credit for the home side's recent form must go to striker Richmond Boakye who is loan from Genoa. The Ghanaian has striker has scored six goals from just ten games this season, so he is one player that the Toro defense must be wary of.

Toro will be without influential playmaker Manuel Iori, so Giampiero Ventura may be forced to revert back to a 4-4-2 formation and that could see Rolando Bianchi brought back into the starting eleven.

Forza Torino

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Reggina 0-1 Torino

Torino left it late once again, but in the end they got the vital goal they needed to secure an impressive 1-0 win away to Reggina.

Giampiero Ventura decided to alter his normal formation for this game, as Giuseppe Vives was brought into the team to strengthen the midfield, as Toro lined up with a 4-3-3 formation. Ventura, perhaps controversially, left captain and top scorer Rolando Bianchi on the bench, perhaps believing that the hardworking Giulio Ebagua was better suited for this formation.

Torino had an opportunity within the opening few minutes, but Mirco Antenucci's shot was easily saved by Adam Kovacsik. Although Toro dominated possession in the first half, clear cut chances were hard to come by, with only half chances from Angelo Ogbonna and Alen Stevanovic worth commenting on.

The home side had to wait until the second half for their first 'real' chances, as some clever work from Antonino Ragusa forced Ferdinando Coppola to make a good save with his leg.Mirco Antenucci had Toro's best chance of the match, when he received a pass from Giuseppe Vives in the area, but his shot on the turn just went narrowly wide of the post.

In the absence of Bianchi, it was Angelo Ogbonna who was wearing the captain's armband, and he came close to opening the scoring as he ran unopposed from the half way line, before unleashing a fierce shot from long range, that was turned away by Kovacsik.

With ten minutes remaining, and Torino looking for the breakthrough, Rolando Bianchi did come off the bench, and his first touch was an ambitious volley from 40 yards, that only just sailed over the bar.

Four minutes later, Torino finally got their goal and it was courtesy of a fantastic cross from Luciano Zavagno, who was deputising for Alessandro Parisi, and his deep cross found Danilo D'Ambrosio at the far post whose bullet header found the back of the net.

Torino saw out the remaining minutes with little difficulty, thanks in part to yet another outstanding defensive performance from Angelo Ogbonna. This victory kept Torino four points clear at the top of the Serie B table ahead of yet another difficult away trip to third place Sassuolo on Saturday.

Forza Torino

Monday, 31 October 2011

Reggina V Torino Preview

Just over 72 hours since their last match, Torino will be back in action once again on Tuesday evening, as they make the long journey to Reggio Calabria to take on an in-form Reggina side.

Torino will be forced to make at least two changes from their side who beat Empoli, as Alessandro Parisi and Juan Surraco have stayed behind in Turin and have not made the trip. Luciano Zavango should come in at left back, whilst Mirco Antenucci, who was impressive after coming off the bench on Saturday, could start on the wing.

Toro will be facing a team that is in good form, as Reggina have won their last four matches, against Bari, Livorno, Varese, and most recently an impressive 3-0 away win at Brescia. However, it must be noted that in this last match, the Brescia missed two penalties, and despite having 66% of the possession, they still managed to lose the game.

Although they did lose their last away match against Gubbio, Torino have been impressive on the road this season, winning all of their other five matches.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Torino 2-1 Empoli

Torino returned to winning ways and extended their lead at the top of the Serie B table, as they came from behind to beat Empoli 2-1 at the Stadio Olimpico.

Toro made a number of changes to the side that lost at Gubbio, with Valerio Di Cesare, Migjen Basha, Juan Surraco and Giulio Ebagua all coming into the team.

Torino had the first opportunity in the match after some incisive wing play by Alen Stevanovic enabled him to charge into the area and unleash a shot at goal that was tipped over the bar by Alberto Pelagotti in the Empoli goal. And the away side's keeper also did well to deny Rolando Bianchi, as he turned the Torino Captain's effort around the post.

However, it was Empoli who took the lead just ten minutes before the half time interval, with a fantastic strike from Flavio Lazzari. The midfielder received the ball 20 yards out, and sold a fantastic dummy to get past Valerio Di Cesare who had attempted to close him down, before unleashing an outstanding left footed shot into the top corner.

At half time, Giampiero Ventura brought on Mirco Antenucci to replace the ineffective Juan Surraco, and the former Catania man made an instant impact as just five minutes into the second half, Toro were level. Antenucci found himself with oceans of room on the left hand side in the penalty area, and got to the byline, before cutting the ball back to the grateful Giulio Ebagua who slid the ball home from three yards out.

And Antenucci almost had a goal for himself moments later, as he curled a fantastic shot towards goal from just inside the area, but was denied by Pelagotti. However, Toro didn't have long to wait to take the lead because with 25 minutes remaining, they got their second goal from an unlikely source.

A corner was whipped in from the left, and Rolando Bianchi's header was initially saved by the fantastic Alberto Pelagotti, however Matteo Darmian was the quickest to react as he hooked the ball into the net to give Toro the lead.

Ferdinando Coppola redeemed himself for his awful error against Gubbio, as he made a good save from Mirko Valdifiori's shot, and at the other end, Bianchi and Antenucci both spurned chances to extend Torino's lead.

However, in the end it didn't matter as Torino held on to the three points, and are now four points clear of Zdenek Zeman's Pescara at the top of the league, ahead of a difficult visit to Reggina on Tuesday.

Forza Torino.

Friday, 28 October 2011

Torino V Empoli Preview

It will be interesting to see how Torino will react to their first defeat of the season when they face Empoli on Saturday afternoon.

The defeat against Gubbio was obviously disappointing, but Torino still remain top of the league, and must get back to winning ways as soon as possible in order to stay there. Migjen Basha and Giulio Ebagua should return to the starting eleven after disappointing performances by their replacements - Giuseppe Vives and Alessandro Sgrigna.

Toro will be eager to ease the nerves with an early goal on Saturday, as in their five previous home games they have only scored one goal in the first half - and that was in the 40th minute.

Empoli have had a disappointing start to the season and despite being many pundits tip for a place in the the playoffs, they find themselves at the other end of the table, in 20th position. However, in spite of their lowly league position, in Francesco Tavano, Empoli have one of the in form strikers in the division - having scored seven goals already this campaign.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Gubbio 1-0 Torino

Well the bubble had to burst at some point didn't it?

And if you ask the majority of Torino fans, I doubt that they were that surprised that The Granata's unbeaten run was ended by lowly Gubbio.

Before the game, players and fans of both teams paid tribute to MotoGP rider Marco Simoncelli who died in tragic circumstances at the Malaysian Grand Prix on Sunday.

Toro had two good chances in the early stages of the match, with Rolando Bianchi, and then Kamil Glik going close with headers. It was Glik who then became public enemy number one amongst the Gubbio fans, after his reckless challenge resulted in Marcel Büchel being stretchered off.

The home side had their best chance towards the end of the first half, but Alessandro Sandreani's shot was easily saved by Ferdinando Coppola.

Fifteen minutes into the Second Half, Gubbio took the lead in comical circumstances after a poor mistake by Coppola. The on loan goalkeeper came out of his goal to try and intercept a long ball forward, but his clearance was a timid one that went straight to a Gubbio player. Daniel Ciofani was the grateful recipient of Coppola's gift, and he calmly side footed the ball into an empty net from 20 yards out.

Torino had a number of chances in the final 30 minutes to equalise, the best of which falling to Rolando Bianchi, and he was unlucky to see his header hit the bar. In fact, Gubbio almost doubled their lead, as Mario Rui was equally unlucky to see his long range shot rebound off the post.

In injury time, Torino had one last chance to maintain their unbeaten record, and once again the opportunity fell to Bianchi. And this time, Gubbio had their goalkeeper, Antonio Donnarumma to thank as he made a great save to tip Bianchi's header over the bar.

Whilst Torino were certainly not at their best, they probably did enough to deserve a draw, and it was only due to a catastrophic error that meant they lost the game. However this match was a wake up call for Toro, and shows that no team in Serie B can be underestimated.

Let's hope that Torino learn a valuable lesson from this match, and get back to winning ways against Empoli on Saturday.

Forza Torino

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Gubbio V Torino Preview

Torino will have to wait until Monday night for their game this weekend, as they face a visit to newly promoted Gubbio in search of their sixth consecutive away victory.

Gubbio is a picturesque Umbrian town with a population of just 32,000 people, therefore the fact their football team has been able to reach their second tier of Italian football is an achievement in itself. However, Gubbio have had a difficult start to the season, and are currently 21st in the Serie B table, and would be bottom of the table if it wasn’t for the fact Ascoli have been given a points deduction.

In an attempt to halt their slide down the table, earlier this week, Gubbio sacked their manager Fabio Pecchia. Former Inter coach Gigi Simoni, who had been the club’s technical director, will take charge of the match against Torino.

Whilst the appointment of 72 year old Simoni is surely only a temporary measure, his experience could help a squad of talented players - including former Toro defender Simone Benedetti, fulfil their potential.

Torino are boosted by the fact that they have no major injury worries for the match, and Giampiero Ventura will have a difficult team selection ahead of him. Kamil Glik impressed last week against Juve Stabia, so he may keep his place in the side, although that would be harsh on Valerio Di Cesare who has also played well when called upon.

With a number of genuine wingers now available, Mirco Antenucci, who has recently been playing on the left wing, could change to his favoured striking role with Simone Verdi, Juan Surraco and Nnamdi Oduamadi in contention to replace him on the wing.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Torino 1-0 Juve Stabia

Torino continued their impressive start to the season, as they beat a stubborn Juve Stabia side 1-0 to record their fifth consecutive victory and remain top of the Serie B table.

There was a sombre atmosphere at the Stadio Olimpico on Saturday afternoon as a minutes silence was held to commemorate the lives of Lorenzo Ghedi and Fabio Massimo Pozzo who tragically died after they were involved in a collision with the Torino team coach on Sunday night.

Torino fans also paid tribute to their former player Gigi Meroni, as the 15th October is the anniversary of his death. The enigmatic winger died in a road accident 44 years ago, and the man affectionately referred to as the 'La Farfalla Granata' (The Granata Butterfly) was commonly acknowledged to be one of the best players of his generation before his premature death, aged just 24.

Torino made a number of changes to the side that beat Hellas Verona last weekend, with Alen Stevanovic, Giulio Ebagua and Angelo Ogbonna all coming in to the starting eleven.

The first real chance of the match came after fifteen minutes, after nice interplay between Rolando Bianchi and Giulio Ebagua put Mirco Antenucci through on goal, but his shot was well blocked by the covering defender.

In the opening seconds of the second half, the visitors almost took a surprise lead after a mistake from Kamil Glik gave substitute Jerry Mbakogu a chance to score, but his lob went well over the bar.

Captain Rolando Bianchi almost opened the scoring for Toro, but his fierce shot from 20 yards went over the bar. Moments later, Alessandro Parisi almost came close to scoring his first goal in a Torino shirt when his free kick from 40 yards out was deflected, but Andrea Seculin in the Juve Stabia goal made a good save to deny him.

Torino came close to scoring once again, this time it was Alen Stevanovic who did well to get to the byline and cut the ball back to substitute Alessandro Sgrigna, but unfortunately for Toro, Sgrigna lent back at the vital moment, and the ball ballooned over the bar.

With ten minutes remaining, Torino finally got the breakthrough that their play deserved when the Poland International Kamil Glik delivered an inch perfect assist to find Rolando Bianchi, who peeled away from his marker to head into the corner of the net.

Despite one nervy moment when a Ferdinando Coppola clearance rebounded off a Juve Stabia player to go narrowly wide, Torino held on for their eighth victory of the season - and thanks to Padova losing to Varese on Friday night, Toro are now six points clear at the top of the league.

Forza Torino

Friday, 14 October 2011

Torino V Juve Stabia Preview

After last Sunday’s victory against Hellas Verona – a win that set a new record for consecutive away wins for the Granata , Torino will play another newly promoted side on Saturday, when they face Juve Stabia at home.
Whilst this may not be the Torino – Juve clash that most Toro fans have become accustomed to over the years, Juve Stabia will certainly pose a tough test. This is their first season back in Serie B after a 59 year absence, and it is also the first time that these two sides have ever met in a competitive fixture.
This match sees two teams in great form going head to head, as both Torino and Juve Stabia have won their last four matches. However, Juve Stabia have received setback in their quest to maintain their place in the second tier, as earlier this week, they were deducted five points for alleged match fixing of a game in 2009. 
However, as we have seen with Atalanta in Serie A, receiving a point deduction can have a positive effect on a team, and Juve Stabia will undoubtedly be eager to make up those points as quickly as possible, so Toro will have to be wary.
The home side will be boosted by the fact that Angelo Ogbonna has returned from international duty and should return to the starting eleven. Elsewhere, Giulio Ebagua may also be in line for a start after his outstanding goal against Hellas, whilst Alen Stevanovic should also return having been rested.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Hellas Verona 1-3 Torino

For the first time in their history, Torino have won five consecutive away games after Torino's 3-1 win in Verona. Incredibly, this means that this current Torino side (albeit in Serie B) has achieved a record, that even 'Il Grande Torino' did not manage.

In the absence of Angelo Ogbonna who is away on international duty, Francesco Pratali came into the side for his first start of the season. Toro captain Rolando Bianchi also made a return to the starting line up, and Juan Surraco also made his first start for the club.

The first chance of the match fell to the home side, and it was former Torino striker Sasa Bjelanovic who met Massimiliano Scaglia's cross, but his header was a tame one and Ferdinando Coppola saved it with ease.

After fifteen minutes, Toro took the lead when Alessandro Parisi delivered a fantastic cross from the left wing that found Rolando Bianchi, who scored with a typically powerful header from twelve yards.

Torino almost doubled their lead soon afterwards, when a clever free kick routine resulted in Manuel Iori delivering an inch perfect pass to Mirco Antenucci, but the strikers volley was turned over the bar by Hellas goalkeeper Rafael.

Ten minutes before half time, Toro did extend their lead after an exquisite pass by regista Manuel Iori found Alessandro Sgrigna in the box, and although his initial shot was saved, he knocked in the rebound to give Torino a 2-0 lead.

On the stroke of half time, Verona got a goal back after Mirco Antenucci lost possession on the edge of his own box, and the ball fell to Matteo Abbate who unleashed a fantastic long range shot from 25 yards, to give the home side a way back into the match.

Mirco Antenucci had two chances before the half time whistle to re-establish a two goal lead, but he was unable to make amends, as Toro went in at the break with a narrow lead.

Fifteen minutes into the second half, Giampiero Ventura replaced Alessandro Sgrigna with Giulio Ebagua, and the Nigerian born striker made an immediate impact.

The former Varese player picked the ball up from 40 yards out and dribbled past the Verona defence, before finishing calmly with his left foot into the top corner of the net. The goal has been described in some match reports as being 'Messi-like' and it certainly was a goal the Argentine player would have been proud of.

Unfortunately, a small section of Hellas fans lived up to their unsavoury repuatation by racially abusing Giulio Ebagua during the match, and Hellas Verona have since been fined €7000 because of the conduct of their fans.

In the last half an hour, Hellas had chances to get a goal back, but Coppola made good saves to deny both Matteo Abbate and Emanuele Berrettoni, as Torino held on for the victory that kept them three points clear at the top of the table.

The day ended on a sad note, as on their way back to Torino, the team coach was involved in a road accident, as a truck collided with a car that became wedged underneath the coach.

No players or staff were injured, but sadly two people lost their lives - Lorenzo Ghedi, 25 and Fabio Massimo Pozzo, 31.

R.I.P Lorenzo and Fabio, our thoughts are with your friends and family.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Hellas Verona V Torino Preview

Torino will play their third game in nine days when they face a difficult away trip to the Stadio Bentegodi to play Hellas Verona on Sunday afternoon.

Torino were not at their best against a stubborn Grosseto side in midweek, but thanks to an own goal, they were able to get the victory that put them three points clear at the top of the Serie B table. Angelo Ogbonna is away with Italy on international duty, so Valerio Di Cesare is expected to come in, whilst captain Rolando Bianchi should return to starting eleven after being on the bench on Wednesday night.

After being promoted to Serie B after an absence of four years, Hellas Verona have made a solid start to the season, and have twelve points from their eight games so far. Their home form has been particularly impressive, as although they were beaten at home by Pescara on the opening weekend of the season, they have beaten Sassuolo and held Padova and Sampdoria to draws.

After speaking with Hellas fan Charles Ducksbury on Twitter, Toro fans will be pleased to hear that their top scorer Juan Ignacio Gomez will miss the game through injury. However, Croatian striker Sasa Bjelanovic, who once had a short spell at Torino, may be a threat.

Simone Verdi and Nnamdi Oduamadi have returned to the Torino squad after injuries, and one of the two players may be in line to replace Alen Stevanovic who is being rested.

Forza Torino

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Torino 1-0 Grosseto

Torino went three points clear at the top of the Serie B table after a narrow 1-0 victory against Grosseto on Wednesday night.

Toro defender Angelo Ogbonna received some positive news before the game, as he had been called up to the Italy squad by Cesare Prandelli for their Euro 2012 qualification matches after an injury to Domenico Criscito, and he would join up with the squad after this match.

There were a number of changes to the team that beat Sampdoria, with Danilo D'Ambrosio, Kamil Glik, Migjen Basha and Giulio Ebagua all coming into the starting eleven.

The first half was particularly quiet, with Grosseto being content with putting ten men behind the ball and attempting to hit Torino on the counter. Therefore clear cut chances in the first half were limited, with the best chance probably coming from Manuel Iori's teasing free kick, that Kamil Glik failed to make contact with.

In the second half, Grosseto came close to opening the scoring when former Torino midfielder Paulo Zanetti hit a half volley from long range, but Ferdinando Coppola was able to turn around the post.

The turning point of the match occurred with just ten minutes left, when Grosseto substitute Luigi Consonni was sent off for two yellow cards, having just been on the pitch for 23 minutes. And the impact from that dismissal was immediate, as from the resulting free kick, Angelo Iorio headed into his own net to give Torino the lead.

Against Grosseto's ten men, Torino had numerous chances to extend their lead in the closing stages, with Mirco Antenucci, Giulio Ebagua and Manuel Iori all going close. However, the game ended 1-0 and that was enough to give Toro all three points, and put them top of the Serie B table after eight games.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Torino V Grosseto Preview

After the fantastic performance and result against Sampdoria, Torino return to action of Wednesday eager to continue their good form at home to Grosseto.

Whilst on paper, this looks like an easier game than the fixture against Sampdoria, Torino should be weary, that like themselves, Grosseto are also unbeaten this season, and sit just four points behind them in 5th place. In their last match, the Tuscan side conceded a 95th minute equaliser to draw 3-3 at home to Ascoli, so their confidence may have been dented. However, they also have a striker in form, in the shape of former Arsenal player Arturo Lupoli who scored twice in that match.

Unfortunately for Torino, they will be without one of the goalscoring heroes from Friday night because Sergiu Suciu picked up an injury in that match, and will be out for a month. Although the team is not expected to change drastically from their last outing, there are rumours that Danilo D'Ambrosio and Kamil Glik could come into the starting eleven, whilst Alessandro Sgrigna and Giulio Ebagua will also be eager to gain a starting position.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Sampdoria 1-2 Torino

Torino produced a magnificent second half performance as they came back from behind to beat Sampdoria 2-1 on Friday night, a result that took them to the top of the Serie B table.

The Luigi Ferraris in Genoa is one of the more picturesque stadiums in Italian football, and a large crowd had come to see this clash between two sides who were both unbeaten in their opening six games.

Torino made a number of changes to the team that were victorious against Nocerina, with Valerio Di Cesare, Alessandro Parisi and Rolando Bianchi all returning to the starting eleven. However, perhaps the most surprising selection was in midfield, as young Romanian midfielder Sergiu Suciu was given his first start for the club.

Sampdoria started the game the well, with their strike force of Massimo Maccarone and Cristian Bertani looking particularly dangerous in the opening stages. It was the latter, Bertani, who had the first opportunity of the match, but his shot from 30 yards was tipped over the bar by Ferdinando Coppola in the Torino goal.

Coppola was once again forced into action as the home side began to dominate, this time the former Siena goalkeeper had to get down low in order parry Pedro Obiang's deflected shot.

Sampdoria deservedly took the lead after twenty minutes, as an unmarked Andrea Costa was able to head home from Franco Semioli's cross. After taking the lead, Samp took their foot off the gas a little and that allowed Torino to get a foothold into the match.

And just five minutes before half time, Torino were level, with virtually their first clear cut chance of the game. Serbian winger Alen Stevanovic dribbled into the area and his cut back found Sergiu Suciu, whose first time half-volley from 15 yards beat Angelo Da Costa in the Sampdoria goal.

In the second half, Samp looked a shadow of the side who had dominated for long spells in the first half, and that allowed Torino to gain the upper hand in the match. Toro coach Giampiero Ventura was also very positive in his substitutions, as he replaced the injured Suciu, with Giulio Ebagua - a striker.

And Toro were rewarded for their positivity, as with just fifteen minutes remaining, they took the lead. After a quick counter attack, Mirco Antenucci dribbled to the edge of the area and then laid the ball off to Rolando Bianchi, who took a touch to set himself, before unleashing a fierce shot into the corner of the net.

Torino saw out the remainder of the match with ease, with Matteo Darmian and Angelo Ogbonna particularly impressive in keeping Sampdoria at bay. Despite starting the game very slowly, in the end, Torino were well worth the three points thanks to a magnificent second half performance.

This result took Torino to the top of the table for the first time this season, but they will not have long to dwell on that achievement, as they will be back in action on Wednesday evening as they face Grosseto at home. Whilst it would be a lot like Torino to slip up in what looks like an easier game, lets hope they can continue their fine form and gain another three points.

Forza Torino

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Sampdoria V Torino Preview

With a combined eight Serie A titles between the two teams, Friday night's Serie B fixture between Sampdoria and Torino is one that would not look out of place in the top tier of Italian football.

Because of their impressive histories (and squads), both Sampdoria and Torino were expected to be amongst the leading contenders to gain promotion to Serie A, and so far this season, they have lived up to those expectations, as both sides have yet to be defeated this season.

Toro have enjoyed the better start and find themselves joint top of the division with four wins (three of which away from home) and two draws from their opening six matches. Sampdoria find themselves two points behind Toro as they have won one game less than their opponents.

One might be tempted to use the slogan made famous by boxing announcer Michael Buffer in order to the hype this game between two unbeaten teams, but as there is a 33.3% chance that this game will end in a draw, then the use of the aforementioned slogan -  'Somebody's "O" has got to go' would be quite pointless.

Instead, this game has received some attention due to the fact it could be seen as a head to head battle between two players called Angelo who still have ambitions of being included in Italy's squad for Euro 2012, despite playing their club football in Serie B.

Sampdoria midfielder Angelo Palombo surprised many by choosing to stay with the club following their relegation to the second tier and has already gained 22 caps for his country. Toro defender Angelo Ogbonna is yet to make his Italy debut, but has recently been included in two squads by Cesare Prandelli, and is expected to get a cap for the national team sooner rather than later.

Toro are expected to revert to their normal 4-4-2 (4-2-4) formation after playing an unfamiliar 4-3-3 formation against Nocerina last Saturday, whilst Juan Surraco and Biagio Pagano will compete for a place as one of the two wingers, with Alen Stevanovic likely to occupy the other wing.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Nocerina 1-2 Torino

Torino continued their unbeaten start to the season with a narrow victory at newly promoted Nocerina, their third away win of the season, and the first time they have won three consecutive away games since May 2006.

Giampiero Ventura made a number of changes to the team that drew at home to Brescia on Monday night, with Kamil Glik, Luciano Zavagno, Giuseppe Vives and Mirco Antenucci all coming into the starting eleven, with captain Rolando Bianchi left on the bench.

The home side made a bright start to the match, and Toro defender Matteo Darmian made a great tackle to deny Manuel Scalise who appeared to be through on goal. Torino's first chance of the match once again fell to Alen Stevanovic, but the winger could only hit the side netting with his left footed shot.

Torino took the lead after twenty minutes, and it was one of the players brought into the side, Mirco Antenucci, who scored the goal. Initially, it looked as though Antenucci had wasted a great chance to give Toro the lead after his scuffed shot had hit the post. But he didn't have long to dwell on that miss, as just seconds later, after another exquisite pass by Manuel Iori, he was put through on goal, and this time he made no mistake and put Torino 1-0 up.

Torino nearly doubled their lead after a clever free kick routine saw the ball passed along the ground to Giuseppe Vives (who had been a part of the wall) but the midfielder dragged his shot wide of the target. Just before half time, Nocerina had a great chance to equalise, but Ferdinando Coppola made a good reflex save from Luigi Castaldo's header.

Torino extended their lead on the hour mark, and once again the goal was created by outstanding wing play from Alen Stevanovic. The Serbian knocked the ball past the full back as if he wasn't there before getting to the byline and cutting the ball back to Giulio Ebagua, who controlled the ball with his right foot, turned, and then finished powerfully with his left foot to score his first goal in a Torino shirt.

However, less than ten minutes later, Nocerina were handed a way back into the match after Matteo Darmian upended substitute Emanuele Catania in the area to give the home side a penalty. Catania picked himself up to take the penalty himself, and sent Coppola the wrong way to ensure a nervy last twenty minutes for Torino.

Nocerina nearly equalised through defender Roberto Di Maio towards the end of the match, but his volley was cleared off the line by Manuel Iori, and Toro held on for a vital victory.

This result put Torino level on points with Brescia and Padova at the top of the Serie B table, and their next match promises to be an intriguing encounter as they travel to Genoa on Friday night to face Sampdoria.

Forza Torino

Friday, 23 September 2011

Nocerina V Torino Preview

For the first time since the opening weekend of the season, Torino will be playing on a Saturday as they travel to newly promoted Nocerina in search of a third successive away victory.

Although Monday's 0-0 draw with Brescia did have a number of positives, one slight worry for Torino is the fact they have only scored once in the last two matches, and that was Rolando Bianchi's last second winner against Vicenza in their last away match, so Toro will certainly be eager to create more goalscoring opportunities.

Whilst on paper, a match against a newly promoted side may be seen as an easy game, but coach Giampiero Ventura is fully aware that Nocerina will be tough opposition, as they will still be full of confidence from gaining promotion last season.

As seen with Novara last season, who, after being promoted from Lega Pro 1, had a great season in Serie B, and gained promotion via the playoffs, and are still continuing that momentum in Serie A this season after beating Inter 3-1 in midweek. Now I'm not suggesting that Nocerina may be promotion contenders, but they have made a solid start to the season by gaining 5 points from as many matches.

Giampiero Ventura has already confirmed that Kamil Glik will be given a start in defence in place of Valerio Di Cesare, and Uruguayan winger Juan Surraco may make his first start for Torino in place of Simone Verdi who has a slight injury.

Forza Torino

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Torino 0-0 Brescia

Torino maintained their unbeaten start to the season, but were unable to find a goal as they were held to a scoreless draw against Brescia.

Giampiero Ventura made a couple of changes to the team that beat Vicenza in the last match, with Simone Verdi coming in to replace the injured Stefano Guberti, and Giulio Ebagua replacing Alessandro Sgrigna in attack.

It was Brescia who had the first chance of the match, when Fabio Daprela broke down the left, and his cross found Omar El Kaddouri, who was unlucky to see his volley rebound off the post. Torino had a good chance to opening themselves after Manuel Iori's free kick found Rolando Bianchi, but his header went well wide.

On the stoke of half time, Brescia had arguably the best chance of the half, but El Kaddouri scuffed his shot when well placed, and then former Torino midfielder Alessandro Budel had a shot from distance that went wide.

Toro had the first chance in the second half, as winger Alen Stevanovic drove into the box and unleashed a powerful low shot that was just inches away from the target. Giulio Ebagua also came close for Torino as he was eager to stake his claim for a regular starting birth, but his long range shot was also off target.

In the closing stages, Torino almost stole the three points once again after Alessandro Parisi's volley was almost diverted into the net by substitute Alessandro Sgrigna, but unfortunately for Toro, like so many chances beforehand, it went wide.

In the end, a draw was probably a fair result, and Brescia would probably be the happier of the two sides, as they seemed to be content with a point for the duration of the second half. However Toro should not be too disappointed, as Brescia are one of the better sides in the division, and it means Torino remain unbeaten, and have had clean sheets in their last three matches.

Forza Torino

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Torino V Brescia Preview

For the second consecutive week, Torino have to wait until Monday night to play their match, as they face high flying Brescia at the Stadio Olimpico.

The game against Brescia promises to be a tough one, as like Toro, they find themselves near the top of the Serie B table with 10 points from their opening four games.

After last Monday's last second victory against Vicenza, confidence in the Torino camp will undoubtedly be high. However, Toro were dealt a massive blow in mid week after Stefano Guberti injured his cruciate ligament in training, and the winger is expected to be out of action for at least six months. Fellow wingers Biagio Pagano and Juan Surraco have been included in the squad for the first time this season, however as both players are recovering from injuries, question marks remain regarding whether the players are match fit to play any part in the match.

The last time these two sides met was in the 2010 Serie B playoff final, and it was Brescia who emerged victorious over two legs to gain promotion to Serie A. Both of those games were fiery and controversial encounters, especially the first leg where Toro had a goal disallowed in the last minute, and Rolando Bianchi was continual provoked by the Brescia players throughout the match.

This video below gives a taster of what type of "defending" Brescia employed in order to try and stop Bianchi, and one wonders whether il capitano may have revenge on his mind on Monday night.

Forza Torino

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Vicenza 0-1 Torino

Torino earned their third victory of the season after a dramatic last minute winner by captain Rolando Bianchi gave them all three points against Vicenza.

After impressing in Torino's last outing against Varese, Alen Stevanovic and former Vicenza player Alessandro Sgrigna retained their places in the team, whilst captain Rolando Bianchi also started, in place of Giulio Ebagua who had to make do with a place on the bench.

Torino had the first opportunity of the match, with the goal scorers from the last match once again combining to good effect, but Alessandro Sgrigna could only head Alen Stevanovic's cross wide of the goal.

Vicenza also had opportunities in the opening stages, and Toro were thankful to Ferdinando Coppola who made a magnificent save to tip a vicious swerving shot from Alemao onto the bar. From the resulting corner, the home side should have taken the lead, as defender Daniele Martinelli found himself unmarked, but his diving header went over the bar.

Torino almost took the lead in spectacular fashion, when Rolando Bianchi unleashed a curling shot from 25 yards that had the Vicenza goalkeeper beaten, but unfortunately for Toro, it hit bar.

Vicenza had the first chance in a quieter second half, when Gianvito Misuraca had a shot from long range, that Coppola did well to save with his legs after he appeared to lose his footing. Former Toro striker Elvis Abbruscato also went close for the home side but his header went narrowly wide of the target.

Toro coach Giampiero Ventura brought on Mirco Antenucci and Giulio Ebagua as he went in search of a winning goal, and it was Antenucci who played a part in the winning goal.

In the last minute of injury time, Antenucci chipped a hopeful ball into the box that the Vicenza defence failed to deal with, and the ball fell perfectly to Rolando Bianchi, whose half volley found the corner of the net with the last kick of the game.

The result was harsh on Vicenza, who probably deserved a point for their second half performance, but the fact that Toro did not give up and kept fighting for the victory until the last kick of the match was particularly pleasing, and the team showed a togetherness that has not been present in the last couple of seasons.

Forza Torino

Monday, 12 September 2011

Vicenza V Torino Preview

After Brescia and Padova both recorded victories at the weekend, Torino will need to win in Vicenza on Monday night to regain their position as joint leaders of Serie B.

After two victories in their opening three matches, Torino have started the season well, and another three points tonight will certainly increase belief that Toro are serious promotion contenders.

Torino's opponents,Vicenza, have had a disappointing start to the season, and only have one point from their opening three matches, so will be looking for their first win of the season.

Polish defender Kamil Glik has returned from international duty, so may return to the centre of defence in place of Valerio Di Cesare, and captain Rolando Bianchi should regain his place in the starting eleven.

Forza Torino

Monday, 5 September 2011

Torino 2-0 Varese

Torino joined Padova and Brescia at the top of Serie B after a hard fought 2-0 victory over Varese on Sunday night.

After only managing a draw with Cittadella in their opening home match, Giampiero Ventura's side were looking for their first home victory of the season, and the experienced tactician gave Alessandro Sgrigna and Giulio Ebagua starts up front, and left captain Rolando Bianchi on the bench.

Toro started the match brightly and Serbian winger Alen Stevanovic, making his first appearance of the season after an injury, delivered a fantastic cross in the early stages, but Alessandro Sgrigna was unable to direct his header goalwards.

The next chance fell to former Varese striker Giulio Ebagua, but when he slid in to meet Stefano Guberti's teasing cross, his effort went wide of the post. The build up play before Ebagua's chance was particularly pleasing, as Manuel Iori's pass with the outside of his foot found Guberti in space, who in turn delivered a first time cross into the area, but unfortunately Ebagua could not score.

Toro took the lead just five minutes before half time, after Stefano Guberti's fierce cross was only palmed away by the Varese keeper into the path of Alen Stevanovic, who calmly rearranged his feet, and curled a shot into the far corner.

Torino added to their lead just four minutes into the second half, after a nice lay off by Ebagua found Alen Stevanovic, and the Serbian then found Alessandro Sgrigna who unleashed a vicious shot from 20 yards to give the keeper no chance.

Despite dominating much of the game, Toro nearly presented Varese with a route back into the match, when keeper Ferdinando Coppola's mis-hit clearance went straight to Neto Pereira, but his shot was well blocked by Valerio Di Cesare.

Toro had a great chance to score a third, after a sloppy back pass by a Varese defender sent Ebagua through on goal but he was twice denied by Mathieu Moreau in the Varese goal, who also saved a shot from substitute Simone Verdi in the same move.

Although Toro were guilty of some unconvincing defending in the closing stages, they held on to the victory, and remain unbeaten so far this season, and are currently the joint leaders of Serie B.

Forza Torino.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Torino V Varese Preview

Torino will play their third Serie B game in eight days tonight, when they face last season's surprise package Varese at the Stadio Olimpico.

Torino will be eager to get their first home victory of the campaign, after only managing a draw against Cittadella on Wednesday night. However, Varese will certainly be tough opposition, and last season did the double over Toro as they surprised everybody by finishing in 4th position.

Much of last season's success was thanks to former coach Giuseppe Sannino, but he left in the summer to join Siena, and has been replaced by former Torino striker Benito Carbone. Varese have started the season with two 0-0 draws, and will therefore be looking for their first victory of the season.

Torino winger Nnamdi Oduamadi, who scored the winning goal in the opening game at Ascoli, is out for a month with an injury, and defender Kamil Glik is still away with Poland on international duty. Striker Giulio Ebagua, who signed from Varese in the summer, will be looking to score his first goal in a Torino shirt against his former team.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Torino 1-1 Cittadella

Torino could only hold on to their lead for three minutes, as Cittadella fought back to gain to deserved point at the Stadio Olimpico on Wednesday night.

There was a lot of optimism surrounding Torino, after their impressive win at Ascoli at the weekend, as well as the fact they were able to retain key players Angelo Ogbonna and Rolando Bianchi in the transfer window.

However, Torino did not start the game well, and they looked a shadow of the team that were victorious on Saturday. Perhaps one of the reasons for their slow start was because there were six changes to the side that started in Ascoli, with D'Ambrosio, Di Cesare, Zavagno, Vives, Oduamadi and Antenucci all gaining starts.

Another reason for their poor start could be that Torino underestimated Cittadella, and assumed that this would be an academic home victory, they were wrong, as for much of the game, it was Cittadella who looked like the team challenging for promotion.

Torino had the opening chance of the match, when Nnamdi Oduamadi, broke free on the left wing, but his right footed shot hit the side netting. Cittadella should of taken the lead minutes later through striker Robert Maah, but his free header went wide of the target. Maah turned provider soon afterwards, as Cittadella broke away on a quick counter attack, and his pass found Thomas Job, but the midfielder slipped and his tame shot went harmlessly wide.

It was then Torino's turn to miss an easy chance, as Rolando Bianchi failed to make contact with Danilo D'Ambrosio's cross from six yards, when it had seemed easier to score.

The second half began in similar fashion to the first, as both sides were guilty of inept finishing. Once again Bianchi had a great chance to open the scoring, but after being set up by strike partner Mirco Antenucci, the captain dragged his shot wide of the post. Next up it was Cittadella's captain, Tommaso Bellazzini who entered the 'How not to finish a chance when ideally placed' competition, as he, like so many before him, dragged his shot wide.

Finally, in the 81st minute, the deadlock was finally broken as Torino took the lead in bizarre fashion. After a long goal kick from Toro keeper Ferdinando Coppola, substitute Alessandro Sgrigna forced his way into the area, and his shot hit the arm of opposition keeper Alex Cordaz and slowly rolled into the net.

However, just three minutes later, Cittadella were level, and much like the opening goal of the match, this goal could accurately be described as a fluke. It was substitute Nunzio Di Roberto who scored the goal, after converting Robert Maah's cross, but it looked as though the ball just hit Di Roberto's standing foot, before agonizingly looping into the corner of the net.

The game finished 1-1, and after taking the lead, Torino will be disappointed that they did not hold on to all three points, but overall it was certainly a fair result. The match will also have given Toro coach Giampiero Ventura a much clearer indication of what his strongest eleven is, and in Sunday's home match against Varese, we should see what Ventura believe his strongest team to be, now that the majority of the squad have been given game time.

Forza Torino

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Torino sign Surraco

Torino have made their final acquisition of the Summer transfer window, by signing Uruguayan winger Juan Surraco on loan from Udinese.

Surraco (24) spent last season on loan at Livorno, where he scored five goals in 25 matches, and he will be looking to continue that form at Torino this campaign. Although he started his career in his native Uruguay, Surraco has been in Italy for the past six seasons, and has also had loan spells at Ancona and Messina.

For the majority of this transfer window, there has been constant speculation surrounding the futures of Rolando Bianchi and Angelo Ogbonna. However, subject to any last minute shock moves, it looks as though both players will remain at the club, which is an enormous boost to the Granata's promotion chances.

Torino V Cittadella Preview

Torino will play their first home game of the season when they face Cittadella tonight, and will look to continue their fine start to the season with another victory.

There were a number of positives in Saturday's game against Ascoli, where Torino came from behind to win, and that performance has raised expectations that this could finally be the season that Toro mount a serious automatic promotion challenge.

Unless something drastic happens in the closing moments of the transfer window, Rolando Bianchi and Angelo Ogbonna should remain at the club, and therefore both players will probably be involved in tonight's match. Winger Simone Verdi, who only started on Saturday because of an injury to Alen Stevanovic, impressed many with his performance, and is almost certain to keep his place in the side.

Cittadella also won their opening game of the season - a 2-1 victory against AlbinoLeffe, and whilst they have been weakened by the sale of last season's top scorer Federico Piovaccari, they should not be underestimated.

Forza Torino

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Ascoli 1-2 Torino

Giampiero Ventura had the ideal start to his reign as Torino coach, as Toro came from behind to beat Ascoli 2-1 in their opening Serie B game of the season.

It took just three minutes for the first controversial moment of the season to occur,  as new signing Simone Verdi went down the right hand side and his cross found Rolando Bianchi whose shot looked to have crossed the line. Despite claims by Bianchi and his teammates that the whole of the ball did cross the line, the referee did not give the goal, and play continued.

Torino were further incensed when just one minute later, Ascoli went up the other end and scored the opening goal of the match. The goal came from a corner, as happened so many times last season, and indecision from keeper Ferdinando Coppola and Kamil Glik allowed Sinisa Andjelkovic to head home.

Torino reacted positively to going behind, and Rolando Bianchi had a great chance to equalise after Migjen Basha's fantastic through ball, but Bianchi's shot went wide of the post. Torino had the opening chance of the second half, as Giulio Ebagua could only divert Alessandro Parisi cross narrowly wide.

Giampiero Ventura made his first substitution of the match, and it was a brave one as well, taking off experienced winger Stefano Guberti to bring on youngster Nnamdi Oduamadi who is on loan from AC Milan. However, it was another man signed from AC Milan in the summer, Simone Verdi, who got Torino back into the match, as he won his new team a penalty.

After nice footwork in the area, the impressive Verdi was clearly fouled by Ascoli defender Alex Pederzoli and it was Captain Rolando Bianchi who converted the penalty to equalise. Torino almost took the lead moments later, when Simone Verdi came close to scoring with a free kick from 25 yards, but it was well saved by Ascoli goalkeeper Enrico Guarna.

Torino were helped in their quest to gain all three points when Ascoli were reduced to ten men, as substitute Marcello Gazzola was sent off after receiving two yellow cards in quick succession. And with just three minutes remaining, Torino got the winning goal that they deserved, after Rolando Bianchi's neat back heel sent substitute Oduamadi through on goal, and he finished calmly into the corner of the net to give Torino a victory.

With the transfer window closing on Wednesday, there is now not long to wait until we will know whether Angelo Ogbonna and Rolando Bianchi will be staying at the club for the foreseeable future. This hard fought victory in the opening game is the ideal start for Torino in their challenge for promotion, and will be looking for a similar result when they face Cittadella in their first home game on Wednesday night.

Forza Torino

Friday, 26 August 2011

Ascoli V Torino Preview

Whilst the start of the Serie A season has been delayed due to a players' strike, the Serie B season will go ahead as normal, and Torino face Ascoli in their opening game.

It has been a busy summer for Torino, with no less than eleven new players joining the club, as well as a new coach being appointed in the form of the experienced Giampiero Ventura. After last season's disastrous campaign, as Torino failed to reach the playoffs, one is optimistic that Torino can fare much better this time around, and perhaps mount a serious challenge for automatic promotion, something that has not happened in the last two seasons.

As things stand, both Angelo Ogbonna and Rolando Bianchi remain at the club, and whilst discussion regarding their futures will continue until the end of the transfer window, it would be a massive boost to Torino's promotion chances should both players remain at the club.

Ascoli have also had an eventful summer, and it looks as though they will begin the season with a points deduction, due to their role in last season's match fixing scandal, as well as having continued financial problems.

Last season, when the two sides met in Ascoli, it was Torino who came out on top, with a surprising 4-0 victory, lets hope for a repeat of that scoreline on Saturday.

Forza Torino

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Serie B Preview

The 2011/12 Serie B season kicks off on Thursday evening as twenty two sides will compete to gain promotion to the top tier of Italian football, and also look to improve the image of a league that was embroiled in a match fixing scandal last season. Below is a brief preview of the clubs that will be involved, along with my prediction of where they will finish.
For a team the size of Albinoleffe, it is incredible that they still find themselves in Italy’s second tier for an eighth consecutive season. After maintaining their Serie B status last season, with a victory in the relegation playoff against Piacenza, their main aim this season will be to avoid relegation once again.
Prediction - 16th
After financial difficulties meant they were deducted six points last season, Ascoli found themselves embroiled in a relegation battle for much of the season. Those problems do not seem to have been rectified, and they have already been deducted seven points this campaign, six of those points were for their role in the match fixing scandal that hit the league last season . However, on the field, Ascoli should have enough to avoid relegation, though if they don’t start well, they could find themselves in trouble.
Prediction - 17th
After relegation from Serie B last season, Bari will be aiming to do what Atalanta and Siena were able to do last season and gain promotion at the first attempt. New coach Vincenzo Torrente performed a minor miracle by gaining successive promotions at Gubbio. Therefore, despite a number of players leaving the club, including long serving Goalkeeper Jean-Francois Gillet, they should be amongst the leading contenders for promotion.
Prediction - 4th
Another of the sides that were relegated from the top tier last season, Brescia have lost a number of their key players, with talented playmaker Alessandro Diamanti leaving to join Bologna. With only a few new acquisitions joining the club, it is difficult to see them being amongst the automatic promotion contenders, but a place in the playoffs may be possible.
Prediction - 7th
Thanks to the goals of Federico Piovaccari, Cittadella achieved a respectable 14th place finish last season. However, last season’s Serie B top scorer has now departed to divisional rivals Sampdoria, and without his goals, Cittadella may struggle.
Prediction - 20th
Last season, Crotone finished in mid-table and never looked to be in serious relegation trouble. However, the departure of striker Aniello Cutolo to Padova is a setback, but they should still have enough to avoid the drop.
Prediction - 15th
Empoli were relegated from Serie A in the 2007-2008 season and the fact they still find themselves in the second tier illustrates that Serie B can be a difficult division to get out of. The return of striker Francesco Tavano could prove to be an inspired signing, especially if he can recapture his form of 2006 when he scored 19 goals for the club in Serie A.
Prediction - 8th
For much of last season, the Tuscan side were embroiled in a relegation battle, and will be looking to fare much better this time around. The signing of Paulo Zanetti from Torino will provide experience in the midfield, and upfront, Arturo Lupoli has the ability to score plenty of goals.
Prediction - 11th
The town of Gubbio is perhaps better known in Italy for being the setting of TV show Don Matteo, (about a Catholic Priest who solves crimes) than it is for its football team. The rise of Gubbio has certainly been a meteoric one, and after two successive promotions, they will now play in Serie B for the first time since 1948. With only limited resources, Gubbio have been forced to rely heavily on the loan system for the upcoming season, and avoiding relegation would be a fantastic achievement.
Prediction – 21st
Juve Stabia
Less than ten years ago, Juve Stabia were competing in Serie D, and much like Gubbio and Nocerina, the fact they find themselves in Serie B is an achievement in itself. The signing of Lithuanian striker Tomas Danilevičius is an impressive acquisition, and it will be interesting to see whether fellow new signing Savio Nsereko can show why West Ham once paid a significant undisclosed fee for the winger.
Prediction – 19th
Livorno narrowly missed out on the playoff positions last season, and will be looking to go one step further in forthcoming campaign. However, as of yet, none of their summer signings suggest that they may be able to mount a serious promotion challenge. Whilst they have signed World Cup winner Simone Barone, it would be fair to say that his best years are firmly behind him.
Prediction - 10th
Modena only lost eleven times last season, but could only manage a mid-table finish due to the fact they drew far too many matches, and only scored 46 times. They will be looking to rectify both of those problems this season, but as a neutral it is difficult to see where their goals will come from, and therefore they could struggle.
Prediction - 18th
After an absence of 32 years, Nocerina return to Serie B and will hope it will be a more prolonged stay than the 1978-79 campaign in which they were relegated after just one season.  Their squad that contains a number of young players and a lot will depend on how quickly they adapt to a new division. Maikol Negro, a midfielder who started his career with Torino could be a key player this season, after scoring an impressive 12 goals last season to help Nocerina gain promotion.
Prediction - 22nd
After losing in the playoff final last season, Padova are expected to mount another promotion challenge this campaign. Whilst the star of last year, Stephan El Shaarawy, has departed, Padova have made a number of decent acquisitions for the new season. Experienced midfielder Omar Milanetto, YouTube sensation Linus Hallenius and pacey winger Dejan Lazarevic have all signed from Genoa, and one would expect Padova to be amongst the contenders for automatic promotion this season.
Prediction - 3rd
By appointing Zdeněk Zeman as coach, Pescara have almost guaranteed that no matter what happens this season, it will certainly not be boring. The Czech tactician is renowned for his attacking style of football, and last season, his Foggia side scored 67 goals, but also conceded 58 times. Therefore, scoring goals should not be a problem, and on loan Juventus striker Ciro Immobile could flourish in Zemen’s system.
Prediction - 6th
Reggina did well to reach the playoffs last season, but were narrowly beaten by eventual winners Novara in the semi-finals. Whilst the last season's coach, Gianluca Atzori, has departed to join Sampdoria, the bulk of the squad does remain, so a place in the playoffs should still be their aim.
Prediction – 5th
Twelve months ago, Sampdoria were in the Champions League, but after last season’s disastrous Serie A campaign, they now find themselves preparing for a season in the second tier. Whilst Sampdoria have made a number of solid signings, the fact they have been able to retain the services of Italian international Angelo Palombo is perhaps equally, if not more important.
Prediction - 1st
Sassuolo spent last season in a relegation battle as they couldn’t replicate the success of the previous season, in which they unexpectedly reached the playoffs.  Highly rated Ghanaian striker Richmond Boakye has been signed on loan from Genoa, and he could score the goals to keep them away from relegation zone this time around.
Prediction – 13th
With less than a week until the transfer window closes, the fact that Angelo Ogbonna and Rolando Bianchi both remain at the club is a pleasant surprise. Although both players could still depart before the end of the month, Torino will still be confident about their chances of gaining promotion this season. New coach Giampiero Ventura has made a number of good signings, and Stefano Guberti who has signed on loan from Roma, has the ability to be one of the best players in the division.
Prediction - 2nd
Varese will find it difficult to repeat the fantastic season they enjoyed last year, when against all odds they finished in 4th place and made it into the playoffs. The coach who masterminded their success, Giuseppe Sannino has now departed to join Siena, but it will be interesting to see how Benito Carbone will do as his replacement.
Prediction - 12th
After four seasons away from Serie B, Hellas Verona will be eager to make a good impression in their first season back in the second tier. Of the four newly promoted sides, Hellas are undoubtedly the biggest side historically, considering they were champions of Italy as recently as 1985. Former Tottenham midfielder Emil Hallfredsson was a key member of the side that got promoted, and could be important as they attempt to avoid relegation this season.
Prediction - 14th
Vicenza will be looking to improve on last season’s 12th place finish, and with one of the best strikers in the division, Elvis Abbruscato, leading the line, they should be in the reckoning for a place in the playoffs.
Prediction - 9th