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

Monday, 22 August 2011

De Feudis Returns

Torino have completed the signing of Cesena midfielder Giuseppe De Feudis, as coach Giampiero Ventura attempts to make a few last minute additions to his squad ahead of their opening Serie B fixture against Ascoli on Saturday.

De Feudis will be a familiar face for Torino fans, as he enjoyed a loan spell at the club last season, and impressed in what was an otherwise disappointing campaign for the Granata, and has now signed on a permanent contract until 2013.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Torino 1-0 Lumezzane

Torino progressed to the third round of the Coppa Italia with a narrow 1-0 victory against Lega Pro side Lumezzane at the Stadio Olimpico.

With the Serie B season just a fortnight away, this cup game was a further opportunity for Torino to improve their fitness, and Giampiero Ventura played a strong side, with both Angelo Ogbonna and Rolando Bianchi in the starting eleven.

As one may expect, Torino started the brighter against their lower league opposition, with new signing Stefano Guberti a constant threat down the left wing. It was Guberti who had the first opportunity of the game, but his curling right footed shot was blocked by a Lumezzane defender. Torino's best chance of the first half fell to captain Rolando Bianchi, who continues to be linked with a move away from the club, before the transfer window closes at the end of the month.

After a great through ball by Manuel Iori, Bianchi  found himself one on one with the Lumezzane goalkeeper, but his shot was well saved by Francesco Rossi. Incredibly, on the stroke of half time, the Lega Pro side almost took the lead, with Roberto Inglese's speculative 25 yard shot hitting the post.

Torino took the lead just past the hour mark, when Matteo Darmian's perfect cross found substitute Mirco Antenucci, whose powerful header gave the goalkeeper no chance. Antenucci was substituted moments after scoring due to an injury, but his winning goal will certainly strengthen his case for a starting place in the next round.

Toro had an opportunity to extend their lead when the impressive Alen Stevanovic found substitute Giulio Ebagua, whose 20 yard shot whistled past the post. In the closing stages, Lumezzane hit the woodwork again, this time it was Fausto Ferrari who hit the bar from an acute angle, but Torino held on, and will face Siena in the next round.

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Torino V Lumezzane Preview

Tonight, Torino will play their first competitive game of the 2011/12 season when they face Lega Pro side Lumezzane in the second round of the Coppa Italia.

Whilst the league is undoubtedly the priority for Torino this season, as they attempt to mount yet another promotion challenge, a good cup run would certainly be welcome in order to build momentum before their first Serie B fixture, away to Ascoli in two weeks time.

Torino's opponents, Lumezzane play in the Lega Pro Prima Divisione (formerly Serie C1) and their coach, Davide Nicola, is a former Torino player. The name of Lumezzane may also be familiar to some due to the fact Italy international Mario Balotelli started his career at the club, making his debut at just 15 years old before moving on to Inter.

Lumezzane beat Pro Patria 4-1 in the last round, showing that they should not be taken lightly, and the winners of this tie will face an away game at Siena next week.

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Rubin Departs, Parisi Arrives

The speculation regarding the future of Torino left back Matteo Rubin has ended today, with confirmation that the defender has joined Serie A club Parma on loan, with an option to co-own the player at the end of the season.

Rubin, who spent last season on loan at Bologna, had stated his intention to move on from the club once again this season, and has got his wish with the move to Parma.

Torino have acted quickly to replace Rubin, by acquiring 34 year old Alessandro Parisi on a one year contract. Parisi was a free agent, after his contract at Bari had expired, and will be reunited with his former coach Giampiero Ventura.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Serie B Fixtures Released

Torino will face an away trip to Ascoli for their first game of the new Serie B season, and a good start will be vital in Torino's quest to gain promotion.

Last season's visit to Ascoli was one bright moment in a season of disappointment, as Torino emerged with a  4-0 victory, with Rolando Bianchi scoring twice. It is still unclear whether Bianchi will be with the club next season, with Scottish club Celtic becoming the latest team to be linked with a move for Torino's captain.

Torino will be content with their opening three fixtures, (Ascoli A, Cittadella H, Varese H) as all three games look winnable and should give Toro an opportunity to start the season well, something they failed to do in the last campaign. Torino will face one of the toughest games of the new season in week 7, as they take on promotion favourites Sampdoria away from home.

Here is the complete list of opening day fixtures for all Serie B clubs

1a Giornata 28.08.2011

Empoli-Juve Stabia
Grosseto-Juve Stabia
Hellas Verona-Pescara

For all full list of Torino 2011-12 Serie B fixtures, find it here