Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Deadline Day Deals

Torino have been busy on deadline day as Salvatore Masiello finally completed his move, but there were also departures as three players left the club.

Salvatore Masiello hit the headlines in August 2011 after a plate-throwing incident at former club Bari that resulted in him being frozen out of the first team. Masiello, who played under Giampiero Ventura at his former club is a left-back and is expected to provide competition for Alessandro Parisi. If Masiello can avoid throwing crockery at his new team- mates, then he could prove to be a smashing signing. (Sorry I couldn't resist)

For much of the day, there had been speculation about Rolando Bianchi joining Catania, however it is another Torino striker, Giulio Ebagua who has moved to the Sicilian club on loan. Ebagua has struggled to hold down a starting place for Toro since joining from Varese in the summer, and only scored three goals in twenty appearances.

Biagio Pagano has also left the club to join Serie B side Nocerina on loan, whilst young midfielder Umberto Miello has been loaned to Casale.

Torino V Vicenza Preview

Torino will attempt to return to the top of the Serie B table tonight when they face mid-table Vicenza at home on Tuesday evening.

After successive draws against Cittadella and Varese, Torino have fallen to third place and will be eager to get back to winning ways, especially as the two teams above them - Sassuolo and Pescara face difficult away games.

New loan signing Cristian Pasquato is in the squad for the game, but as he only joined the club on Sunday, he is not expected to play any part in the match. Danilo D'Ambrosio is expected to replace Matteo Darmian at right back, whilst Migjen Basha could return to the starting eleven in midfield.

As it is the final day of the January transfer window, there has been specualation regarding two of Torino's strikers, Rolando Bianchi and Giulio Ebagua. Whilst neither player has been in scintillating form this season, it would be a blow if either player left the club, with Bianchi being linked with a move to Catania, and Ebagua being targeted by Brescia.

Vicenza are currently ensconced in mid-table in 14th position, but come into the game in poor form without a victory in their last five matches, although that run does include three draws. Former Torino striker Elvis Abbruscato is the marquee name in the Vicenza squad, and he has impressed this season scoring 13 times.

Torino 2-0 Vicenza

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Pasquato signs on loan

Torino have made their third signing of the January transfer window by completing the signing of winger Cristian Pasquato on loan from Juventus.

This move is certainly a controversial one with many Torino fans unhappy that the club has had to resort to borrowing a player from local rivals Juventus. Earlier this season, Pasquato was on loan to Serie A side Lecce but that move was cut short after he failed to maintain a regular place in the side.

In the 2010/11 season whilst on loan at Modena, Pasquato scored nine goals including a number of spectacular free kicks, and his arrival may enable Toro to be more productive with their set pieces. Whilst it is obviously not ideal that Toro have had to loan a player from Juventus, if he helps Toro to gain promotion then the end will justify the means.

It will certainly be interesting to see what Pasquato says about the move in today's press conference, as although he will be looking to endear himself to the Torino fans, he will also be aware that he will almost certainly be back at Juventus in the summer.

Forza Torino

Varese 0-0 Torino

Torino could only manage a goalless draw against Varese in difficult conditions at the Stadio Franco Ossola, a result that moved Toro down to third place in the table.

Francesco Benussi made his first appearance for the away side, whilst fellow January signing Riccardo Meggiorini made his first start, as once again Rolando Bianchi started on the bench.

Torino made a bright start and should of had a penalty in the opening stages when Meggiorini was upended by home goalkeeper Walter Bressan in the area. However, referee Angelo Cervellera  waved away the appeals and Toro's long wait for a penalty kick continues.

In form striker Mirco Antenucci came close to scoring for the third successive game, but after jinking past two defenders, his shot went narrowly wide of the post. Toro's best chance of the first half occurred when Juan Surraco found himself in space on the right wing and dribbled into the area before cutting the ball back to Meggiorini who blazed over the bar. In fairness to the new signing, the ball did seem to bobble on the poor pitch before it reached the striker, but he still should have hit the target.

The home side had to wait until the second half for their first real chance of the match, as substitute Gianpietro Zecchin's dipping volley only just went over the bar from 30 yards.  Toro coach Giampiero Ventura was dismissed from the touchline after complaining about a foul on Meggiorini, who was subbed for captain Rolando Bianchi with twenty minutes remaining.

Varese nearly caught Torino on the counter attack after Guiseppe Vives gave the ball away, but debutant Francesco Benussi showed good positioning to rush out of his goal and clear the danger. By the end of the game, the weather conditions had got much worse, as it became difficult to even see the ball, let alone create any chances and the game ended goalless.

After drawing their last two games away from home on difficult surfaces, Toro will be relieved to return to the Olimpico on Tuesday night against Vicenza, knowing that a victory is essential in order to keep up Sassuolo and Pescara at the top of the table.

Forza Torino

Friday, 27 January 2012

Varese V Torino Preview

Torino will look to regain their place at the top of the Serie B standings when they play Varese on Saturday afternoon. Toro will look to fare better than they did last season, as they return to the scene of one of their most embarrassing defeats of the 2010/11 campaign - a 3-0 defeat last January.

New signing Francesco Benussi should make his debut for Torino in goal, whilst Rolando Bianchi and Riccardo Meggiorini will be looking to replace Alessandro Sgrigna in attack, as he misses out with the flu. Former Varese striker Giulio Ebagua, who has been linked with a move away from the club,  is in included in the squad after missing the last two games.

Varese had a poor start to the season that ultimately cost Benito Carbone his job, but new coach Rolando Maran has succeeded in changing their fortunes around, and they currently occupy the last playoff position. Last season, much of Varese's success was built on their fantastic home form (they were unbeaten at home) but this season, they have already lost four times at the Stadio Franco Ossola.

Varese 1-3 Torino

Monday, 23 January 2012

Benussi joins Toro

Torino have acted to quickly to replace injured goalkeeper Ferdinando Coppola by signing Francesco Benussi on loan from Palermo.

Coppola was stretchered off in the 68th minute of Saturday's match against Cittadella after a collision with defender Valerio Di Cesare and Cittadella striker Robert Maah. It has since been revealed that Coppola has torn the cruciate ligament in his left knee and will be out for the rest of the season.

Therefore, after assessing the potential candidates, Torino have decided to sign former Lecce goalkeeper Francesco Benussi on loan from Palermo until the end of the season. Benussi has made seven appearances for the Rosanero this season, but recently lost his place to Emiliano Viviano after he joined the club from Inter.

Coppola has enjoyed mixed fortunes since joining Torino in the summer, as although he has been guilty of making a number of mistakes (especially against Gubbio) the experienced goalkeeper only conceded 13 goals in 22 appearances. Lets hope that Ferdinando makes a speedy recovery, and that Francesco can be an adequate replacement in Torino's quest for promotion.

Here is a short video of new keeper Francesco Benussi in action for Palermo -

Forza Torino

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Cittadella 1-1 Torino

Torino failed to win away from home once again as they could only manage a draw against Cittadella on Saturday afternoon.

New signing Riccardo Meggiorini started the game on the bench alongside captain Rolando Bianchi, as the in-form Mirco Antenucci and Alessandro Sgrigna started up front.

It was the home side who had a dream start after just five minutes as poor Torino defending from a corner enabled Daniele Gasparetto to stab home. However, just ten minutes later the Granata equalised with their first chance of the game. The goal came after great link up play by Alessandro Sgrigna who played in strike partner Mirco Antenucci, who finished calmly into the bottom corner.

Toro nearly took the lead after fantastic wing play by Alen Stevanovic, who first made Luca Martinelli fall on his backside, before delivering a cross that was well intercepted by home captain Francesco Scardina.

Torino had the better of the second half, and Alessandro Sgrigna and Juan Surraco both should have done better when well placed in the final third. With twenty minutes left, Toro were forced to change their goalkeeper as Ferdinando Coppola was stretchered off after a collision with home striker Robert Maah.

Riccardo Meggiorini came off the bench to make his debut, and the striker came so close to becoming an instant hero, but his left footed "toe-poke" went narrowly wide. Toro then had a fantastic chance to score the winner when Manuel Iori's fantastic pass found the in-form Mirco Antenucci, (who had scored Torino's last three goals) but his side footed shot was saved by the legs of Alex Cordaz from just seven yards out.

In injury time, the Granata still managed to create one last chance, but substitute Rolando Bianchi was unable to connect with Antenucci's cross from the left. This draw, combined with victories for Sassuolo, Hellas Verona and Pescara means that the race for promotion is tighter than ever,  and that Sassuolo have now overtaken Toro at the top of the Serie B table, albeit on goal difference.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Cittadella V Torino Preview

Torino will look to win their first away game since 1st November when they travel to Cittadella on Saturday afternoon.

Toro started the season in record-breaking form away from home, as they won their first five games away from the Olimpico, but recently they have struggled on the road, and will be keen to rectify that problem as quickly as possible.

New signing Riccardo Meggiorini should make his debut against his former team, whilst Manuel Iori, who made over 100 appearances for Cittadella is also available for selection after suspension. Rolando Bianchi should start despite injuring his hand in the week, and should have regained some confidence after scoring a hat-trick against Rivoli in a friendly on Wednesday.

Toro's opponents Cittadella have had an average season so far and are currently in 11th position, but only three points outside the playoff positions. Cittadella's home form is particularly impressive, as they have won six of their eleven games at home, including the last two. Striker Robert Maah, who was particularly impressive in the reverse fixture at the Olimpico in August is their top scorer this season with seven goals.

Forza Torino

Cittadella 1-1 Torino

(Feel free to add your own predictions in the comments below)

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Meggiorini makes Toro move

Torino have made their first acquisition of the January transfer window by completing the signing of Genoa striker Riccardo Meggiorini.

Meggiorini has signed on a co-ownership deal, and could make his debut for Torino against his former side Cittadella on Saturday. One worrying statistic for Toro fans is the fact that in the last three years, Meggiorini has only scored seven goals in 73 appearances for three different clubs.

That being said, Meggiorini did score earlier this season against Inter whilst on loan at Novara, and the last time the striker played in Serie B, in the 2008-09 season,  he scored an impressive eighteen goals for Cittadella.

Meggiorini's arrival is a timely one, as Captain Rolando Bianchi injured his hand in training on Monday, and is rated doubtful for Saturday's match.

Here is a clip of Riccardo Meggiorini in action for Giampiero Ventura's Bari side in the 2009-10 season, including a goal against Juventus.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Torino 2-1 Ascoli

Torino returned to the top of the Serie B table as Mirco Antenucci's brace was enough to see of his former side Ascoli on Saturday afternoon.

Toro had moved down to 2nd place after Sassuolo's narrow 1-0 victory against Nocerina on Friday night, and many pundits wondered how Torino would respond to losing their place at the top. Giampiero Ventura decided to counter Ascoli's 5-3-2 formation by playing a 4-3-3, with Giuseppe De Feudis earning a rare start in the absence of the suspended Manuel Iori.

Torino had the first chance of the match after Migjen Basha's cross found the head of Rolando Bianchi, but the captain struggled to get much power behind the header, and it was easily saved by Ascoli keeper Enrico Guarna. Just before the twenty minute mark, Torino took the lead when Mirco Antenucci received the ball outside the area and curled a fantastic shot into the bottom corner from 20 yards.

However, Ascoli levelled just ten minutes later after Alex Pederzoli's corner found its way to Matteo Ciofani at the far post who stabbed the ball past Ferdinando Coppola, who was returning to the side after suspension. Torino had a chance to regain the lead, but Rolando Bianchi's poor form in front of goal continued as he headed Mirco Antenucci's cross five yards wide of the post.

Torino started the second half brightly, and midfielder Migjen Basha let fly with an ambitious shot from 35 yards, that was nervously palmed away for a corner. With 25 minutes remained, Torino took the lead for a second time, and once again it was Mirco Antenucci who got the goal. The former Ascoli striker dribbled into the area before unleashing a scuffed shot that somehow found its way underneath away keeper Guarna.

Torino had opportunities to extend their lead when Valerio Di Cesare hit the bar from six yards, whilst Mirco Antenucci came close to scoring his third goal of the afternoon, but his shot went narrowly wide. The visitors nearly made the home side pay for their missed chances, but Papa Waigo's shot was well parried by Coppola, and Alessandro Sbaffo's follow up went wide of the target.

Torino held on for a vital three points that quickly re-established their position as league leaders, ahead of two difficult away games against Cittadella and Varese. With much speculation surrounding the impending arrival of striker Riccardo Meggiorini, it was perhaps expected that Mirco Antenucci would choose this game to remind Giampiero Ventura of his ability. Lets hope that if Meggiorini does arrive, it will also motivate Rolando Bianchi to find his scoring boots.

Forza Torino

Friday, 13 January 2012

Torino V Ascoli Preview

After a run of three games without a victory, Torino are desperate to gain a long-awaited a victory , with Hellas Verona and Sassuolo both closing in on the league leaders.

On paper, the visit of bottom side Ascoli should be a good opportunity to gain all three points, but as all Torino fans are aware - Toro never do anything easily. In the reverse fixture, which was also the first game of the season, Torino came from behind to win 2-1 thanks to a late goal by Nnamdi Oduamadi.

The Nigerian winger is included in the Torino squad for Saturday's game, and he will be competing with Simone Verdi for a starting position on the wing. Toro will be without Manuel Iori and Giulio Ebagua after both players were sent off against Albinoleffe - therefore Giuseppe Vives and Migjen Basha are almost certain to be the two central midfielders.

Rolando Bianchi will once again aim to end his scoring drought, as the former Manchester City striker has not found the net since October 15th against Juve Stabia. Incredibly, Bianchi is only ten goals away from overtaking Ezio Loik to become Torino's tenth highest goalscorer of all time. However, he will have to return to form quickly (and not leave in January) in order to achieve that goal this season.

Visitors Ascoli may be bottom of the table, but in reality this is a false position due to the team being deducted seven points this season for various misdemeanours. As a Southampton fan, I'm also fully aware of the unpredictable talents of former striker Papa Waigo. Therefore the Torino defence should also be wary of the striker, who has scored seven goals this season. 

Forza Torino

Torino 2-0 Ascoli

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Torino 0-0 Albinoleffe

Torino had a disappointing start to the New Year as they failed to find a breakthrough against a resilient Albinoleffe side, and the home side finished the game with just nine men.

Davide Morello was given a start in goal as Ferdinando Coppola was suspended despite it being Kamil Glik who was guilty of the foul in Toro's last match of 2011 against Modena. In a surprising move, Giuseppe Vives was preferred to Migjen Basha in midfield, whilst Mirco Antenucci partnered Rolando Bianchi upfront.

Toro had the first chance of the match, when Manuel Iori's chipped pass found Rolando Bianchi in the area, but the captain's left footed volley went harmlessly wide of the target. The away side nearly took a shock lead after nice interplay between Andrea Cristiano and Andrea Cocco led to the latter being through on goal, but his shot was well saved by the legs of Morello.

That scare seemed to spur Torino into action, and they could of had a penalty when nice play by Antenucci put Simone Verdi through, but he was pulled back on the edge of the area. On first glance it looked as though the foul was inside the area, but on reflection the referee had made the right decision, and unfortunately for Toro, the resulting free kick came to nothing.

Just before half time, Albinoleffe were reduced to ten men when Michael Girasole was sent off after recieving his second yellow card for a foul on Verdi.

Toro started the second half brightly eager to capitalise on their one man advantage, and Antenucci was very unlucky to see his shot from 20 yards hit the post. However just moments, disaster struck for Torino when Albinoleffe countered quickly after a corner kick, and Valerio Foglio ran the length of the pitch before being fouled by Manuel Iori, who had chased him back with that intention.

Iori was unsurprisingly sent off for being the last man, although luckily for Toro, the foul was outside the area so he only conceded a free kick, and it was now 10 v 10. Both Alen Stevanovic, and then Mirco Antenucci had good chances for Toro, but both players saw their shots go wide.

Rolando Bianchi continued his poor form in front of goal, as he failed to make contact with Alessandro Parisi's cross from just three yards out. In the 90th minute, Antenucci had his best chance of the match when he received Giuseppe Vives long pass, but his shot was saved by the legs of the Albinoleffe goalkeeper.

In injury time, Torino had another player dismissed when substitite Giulio Ebagua was given a straight red card for dissent after the striker did not recieve a free kick when he was blatently pulled to the ground by Fabio Lebran on the edge of the area.

This result means that Torino are now only one point clear at the top of the Serie B table, after closest rivals Hellas Verona scored two late goals to beat Modena.

Forza Torino

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Torino V Albinoleffe Preview

Fresh from a training camp in Malta, Torino will play their first game of 2012 at home to Albinoleffe on Friday afternoon.

January 6th is a national holiday in Italy in order to celebrate The Epiphany, and Torino will be hoping they can commemorate this holiday with three points after succumbing to two successive defeats before the winter break.

Although the transfer window is now open, Torino have yet to make any new additions and are expected to line up in a 4-2-4 formation with Simone Verdi, Rolando Bianchi, Mirco Antenucci and Alen Stevanovic as the four attacking players.

Their opponents Albinoleffe are on a good run of form themselves, only losing one of their last eight games - and will therefore be hoping that the winter break has not disrupted their form. Andrea Cocco is one player that Torino will have to be wary of, as the striker has already scored nine goals this season.

Torino 2-1 Albinoleffe

Monday, 2 January 2012

January 2012 Mercato Preview

Twelve months ago, as my first post on this blog, I mentioned a number of players who had been linked with transfers to Torino - and a grand total of zero actually signed so I hope for better success this time around.

As is customary when the January transfer window reopens, dozens of players are rumoured to sign for Torino, and although only a couple may be realistic potential transfers, we still get excited by the possibility of those unrealistic players who could sign.

So far, fulfilling the role of being an unlikely signing is AC Milan forward Stephan El-Shaarawy, who has been mentioned as a possible loan signing - but one would expect a number of Serie A sides would be interested in a player who impressed so many on loan at Padova last season.

A slightly more realistic proposition could be Udinese striker Paulo Vitor Barreto who has only featured in one game this season due to injury. Giampiero Ventura knows all about the Brazilian, as two seasons ago he scored 14 times in Serie A for his Bari side, as they finished in mid table.

One position that Torino may want reinforcements for is on the wing, and two players who have also played under Ventura before - Palermo's Edgar Alvarez and Bari's Emanuel Rivas - have been mentioned as possible signings.

We shouldn't expect to see too much movement out of the club this month, as although Angelo Ogbonna has his suitors, it is extremely unlikely he would move before the summer. Alessandro Sgrigna and Giulio Ebagua have been linked with moves away from the clubs, but unless Toro signed an adequate replacement I'd be surprised if either player was transferred.

Forza Torino