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