Friday, 29 April 2011

Torino V Piacenza Preview

Forget the Royal Wedding, the real event of the weekend takes place tomorrow when Torino take on Piacenza, knowing that a victory will boost their chances of participation in the end of season playoffs.

Torino currently sit in sixth position in the table, three points clear of their nearest rivals Padova, although the Granata will still believe they have a chance of overtaking Reggina is fifth place, as just one point separates the two sides. Their opponents on Saturday, Piacenza have their own motives for victory on Saturday, as they currently find themselves in a relegation battle, and whilst Torino will be doing their utmost to escape from Serie B, Piacenza will be content with just staying in the division.

Piacenza have not won a match since the 12th March, although they did achieve a creditable 2-2 draw in their last away game against high-flying Novara. Torino will be without Angelo Ogbonna and Guiseppe De Feudis who are both suspended, so Danilo D'Ambrosio and Alessandro Budel may return to the starting line up.

Forza Torino

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Modena 1-1 Torino

Torino were once again thankful for their captain Rolando Bianchi as for the second game in succession he scored a vital equaliser to keep their recent unbeaten streak going.

Despite starting well, Torino continued what may could be seen as a worrying trend by conceding the first goal, and like on Monday against Reggina, it was a goal that was easily avoidable. The goal came from an outstanding cross by Simone Gozzi that was met with an equally good header by Francesco Stanco, and whilst the goal was a good one, questions must be asked as to why the striker was allowed to meet the cross with such ease.

However, unlike on Monday, Torino did not have to wait long for their equaliser, as just seven minutes later they were level. Angelo Ogbonna, who was playing in an unfamiliar right back role, played an exquisite left footed floating cross that went over the head of the defender, to find Bianchi who had beaten the offside trap to volley home from just inside the area. Both sides had chances to win the game in the Second Half, with Torino's best chances falling to Mirco Antenucci who unfortunately could not find a finish.

Despite only managing draws in their last two fixtures, Torino find themselves in the final playoff position, three points clear of Padova in 7th. However, it is sure to be a nerve wracking end of the season as Torino attempt to secure a position in the playoffs, and their final game of the season is against, yes, you guessed it, Padova - in a game that could determine who gains the final position in the playoffs.

Friday, 22 April 2011

Modena V Torino Preview

Torino will be hoping it will be a very good Friday indeed when they face a tough game away to Modena this evening.

After extending their unbeaten run to four games on Monday, albeit by only managing to draw against Reggina, Torino will be looking for three points that would make their position in the playoffs look more secure.However, their opponents will certainly not be pushovers, as Modena still harbour their own ambitions to reach the end of season playoffs, and currently find themselves just five points behind Torino.

Torino will be hopeful that Angelo Ogbonna may return to the starting line up after injury, and Alessandro Sgrigna may get a start after impressing as a substitute against Reggina.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Torino V Reggina Player Ratings

As I was lucky enough to attend this game, I have decided to put my ratings for how each player performed below. You can also see the ratings that Italian sports newspapers La Gazzetta Dello Sport and Tuttosport gave the players in brackets as well.

Rubinho - 6 - (Gazzetta 6,Tuttosport 6)
Had little to do throughout the game in honesty, but did it well. Had no chance with the goal.

D'Ambrosio - 5 - (Gazzetta 5.5,Tuttosport 5.5)
Disappointing performance by the young right back, often gave the ball away and his crossing was poor.

Di Cesare - 6.5 - (Gazzetta 5.5,Tuttosport 6)
Decent display by the former Chelsea man, looked comfortable throughout the game.

Pratali - 6 - (Gazzetta 6,Tuttosport 6.5)
Given the tough task of replacing the injured Angelo Ogbonna, he gave a solid performance, although could perhaps have done better for the goal.

Zavagno - 6 - (Gazzetta 5,Tuttosport 5.5)
Solid display, but his crossing was not as impressive as it has been in previous games.

Gasbarroni - 6.5 - (Gazzetta 6,Tuttosport 6)
Started brightly on the left wing, cutting inside with his right foot that enabled him to display his sometimes excellent dribbling skills. However, he did fade as the game went on and was substituted.

De Feudis - 6.5 - (Gazzetta 6, Tuttosport 6)
Not spectacular by any means but did a competent job as a holding midfielder.

De Vezze - 7 - (Gazzetta 6.5, Tuttosport 6.5)
Good performance by the midfielder who was returning to the starting line up after injury, tried to support the strikers when he could.

Pagano - 6 - (Gazzetta 5, Tuttosport 5.5)
Unable to replicate his performance against Albinoleffe, as he struggled to get into the game, and was substituted. Although he did come come close to scoring with a header.

Antenucci - 5.5 - (Gazzetta 5, Tuttosport 5)
Disappointing performance by the front man, although to be fair, he never really had a clear cut goalscoring opportunity.

Bianchi - 7.5 - (Gazzetta 6.5, Tuttosport 6)
The captain had a slow start to the match, and his link up play with Antenucci could be improved. However, despite wasting a great chance on the hour mark, he seemed motivated by the miss and was very impressive in the last thirty minutes, and got the deserved equaliser late on.


Sgrigna - 6.5 - (Gazzetta 6.5, Tuttosport 6.5)
Looked bright in his return from injury, and got the vital assist for Bianchi's goal. Should play a major role in the run in at the end of the season.

Iunco - 5 - (Gazzetta 5.5, Tuttosport 6)
This was his first appearance since December after a long injury lay off and it was evident as the former Cittadella man looked rusty.

Cavanda - N/A

Torino 1-1 Reggina

Despite not being able to continue their winning streak, Rolando Bianchi's 88th minute equaliser meant that this result felt more like a win, and come the end of the season this point may prove to be very valuable indeed, and it kept Torino above Reggina in fifth position.

Thanks in part to reduced ticket prices, the match was played in front of a impressive crowd of 19,159, the majority of whom were no doubt eager to see if Torino could take another step on the long road to promotion. Torino had the better of the early exchanges, with both Andrea Gasbarroni and Biagio Pagano forcing saves from Christian Puggioni in the Reggina goal. However, totally against the run of play, it was the visitors who took the lead, with Domenico Danti scoring with a neat back heel after Simone Rizzato's cross. Although clearly shocked by the set back, Torino came close to equalising soon afterwards, with Rolando Bianchi's 30 yard free kick forcing yet another save from the away goalkeeper.

Torino started the second half brightly, as they attempted to get an early equaliser, but once again, like so many times this season they struggled to get the breakthrough that their play deserved. On the hour mark, coach Franco Lerda made a double substitution in an attempt to find a goal as both Alessandro Sgrigna and Antimo Iunco made their way on to the field. Immediately after play restarted, Torino had an ideal opportunity to get their equaliser, as a lapse in concentration by Reggina's Francesco Cosenza put Rolando Bianchi through on goal with only the goalkeeper to beat, but the captain somehow managed to balloon his shot over the bar.

That miss however, seemed to motivate Bianchi who was eager make amends, and he was no doubt aided by the fact that immediately after the miss, the Curva Maratona began to sing his name, showing that they had already forgiven their hero. In the end, it was perhaps apt, that it was the captain who redeemed himself by scoring the equaliser in the 87th minute to rescue a deserved point for the hosts. It was the substitute Sgrigna who was the architect of the goal, as his left footed looping cross, left Bianchi with the simple task of heading in from three yards - and even he wouldn't miss this one.

The match ended in almost farcical scenes, as an altercation between Francesco Pratali and away defender Daniel Adejo led to a mini brawl, with all 22 players and the substitutes getting involved, and the referee, perhaps not wanting to get involved with handing out yellow cards, decided to end the game there.

In the end, Torino were well worth their point, and perhaps unlucky not to get all three, as Reggina seemed to be content for a draw from the outset, and began time wasting immediately after getting their goal. Torino showed how their fighting spirit has improved in recent weeks, because if this game was played a month ago, this report would perhaps be commenting on another Torino defeat, however thankfully, it wasn't.

Forza Torino

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Torino V Reggina Preview

Torino will have the opportunity to gain a victory over a playoff rival, and extend their winning run to four games when they face Reggina on Monday evening.

Whilst Torino come into the game filled with optimism thanks to their recent results, the opposite can be said for Reggina, who are without a victory in their last six games, and suffered a shock home defeat to Cittadella in their last outing. That being said, Torino may be without a number of key players as both Dejan Lazarevic and Angelo Ogbonna picked up slight injuries in the match with Albinoleffe so may miss out. However, captain Rolando Bianchi, who did not feature last Saturday due to injury should return to lead the side out.

I will be in attendance at the Stadio Olimpico for the match, so will include photographs and a detailed match report in my next update.

Forza Torino

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Albinoleffe 1-2 Torino

Torino's hopes of gaining a place in the playoffs are now in their own hands, after a hard fought victory at Albinoleffe, that gave Franco Lerda's team a third consecutive victory, and saw them move into fifth position.

Torino were dealt a blow before kick off, as captain and top scorer Rolando Bianchi was absent from the squad due to a slight muscle strain, whilst the injury is not thought to be a serious one, he was not risked as a precautionary measure. Bianchi's absence would have given Albinoleffe a boost, and it was the hosts that started the brightest, and Brazilian keeper Rubinho, who has been in sparkling form as of late was forced to make a great save from Pierre Giorgio Regonesi's long range free kick with just three minutes gone.

Torino's first opportunity fell to Mirco Antenucci, fresh from scoring the winner in Toro's last outing at home to Grosseto, but saw his effort saved by Luca Tomasig. Torino opened the scoring soon afterwards, via Biagio Pagano's fantastic looping header that narrowly beat the dive of Tomasig in the Albinoleffe goal. Albinoleffe equalised soon after half time, and despite his recent form, Rubinho will probably have to take the blame for the goal as he failed to deal with a corner, that allowed Luigi Sala to head into an unguarded net.

With the clock ticking down, it looked as though Torino would have to make do with a point, but with just three minutes left they got their winning goal, and for the second game in a row, it was Mirco Antenucci who scored it. The move started with an exquisite pass by Daniele De Vezze with the outside of his right foot that found Pagano on the right wing, the former Livorno winger cut back a cross for the on running Antenucci who placed it into the far corner.

At the time, the decision to rehire Franco Lerda after sacking him just eleven days previously seemed to be a strange one, but now, after three consecutive victories it seems it may have been an inspired decision, as Torino can start to dream of a return to Serie A, although there is still a long way to go before that is a reality.

Friday, 8 April 2011

Albinoleffe V Torino Preview

Torino will be seeking their third consecutive victory when they face relegation threatened Albinoleffe on Saturday. If they achieve the victory, then it will be another sign that Torino are serious possibilities for a place in the end of season playoffs. However, the match will be far from easy because despite Albinoleffe's lowly league position, they managed an impressive victory in their last home match against high-flying Novara.

Despite being injured for part of the season, Rolando Bianchi currently has fifteen goals for the season, just two behind Piacenza's Daniele Cacia who is top scorer at the moment, so Bianchi will be looking to add to his tally and overtake Cacia.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Torino 1-0 Grosseto

Football really is a funny game. Just thirteen days ago, Torino seemed to be in crisis, they had just suffered their fourth consecutive defeat against Frosinone, and coach Giuseppe Papadopulo was sacked eleven days after being given the job. However, the decision to re-appoint Franco Lerda as coach may prove to be a masterstroke, as Torino have now won both of their games since his return, and a position in the playoffs at the end of the season now look more realistic.

However, on Friday night, it was Grosseto who had the first opportunity to open the scoring, but Rubinho made a miraculous save from Ferdinando Sforzini's header to keep the scores level. The away team had started the game brightly, and Rubinho was forced into another save, this time from on loan Juventus striker Ciro Immobile's long range shot. Torino's first chance of the game came via Andrea Gasbarroni's long range effort, but Grosseto keeper Antonio Narciso proved he could also make a fine save when called upon. In an entertaining first half, it was Dejan Lazarevic who should have opened his goalscoring account for Torino, but his shot hit the side netting.

Torino had the first meaningful chance of the second half, and it was that man Lazarevic who should have scored again, but blazed his shot high over the bar from just ten yards out, albeit at a difficult angle. Just as it began to look like it would be one of those days, where Torino would be unable to capitalise on their dominance, they got their breakthrough, with just fifteen minutes remaining. A diagonal ball from Alessandro Budel found his central midfield colleague Giuseppe De Feudis in the area who took the ball down with consummate ease and slid a pass to Mirco Antenucci to tap into an unguarded net from eight yards out.

Despite a few nervous moments towards the end of the game, Torino were able to hold on to give them a vital three points. Saturday's results were also kind to Toro, as playoff rivals Livorno were beaten at home and Reggina only managed to draw, and although Vicenza were victorious, Torino find themselves just one point away from the final playoff position.

As one Italian match report stated after the game - Il Toro sta crescendo, The Bull is Growing. That certainly does seem to be the case.