Monday, 23 December 2013

Torino 4-1 Chievo

Torino gave their fans a sensational early Christmas present as they secured their third successive home victorywith a win against Chievo on Sunday afternoon.

As expected, Toro lined up in a 3-5-2 formation with the deadly duo Alessio Cerci and Ciro Immobile up front, and Nikola Maksimovic kept his place in the back three after his impressive performance against Udinese.

A mistake from wing back Giovanni  Pasquale allowed Chievo to take an early lead, as Gennaro Sardo's pull back was met by Cyril Théréau, who side footed the ball past Daniele Padelli. Former Udinese defender Pasquale was having a torrid time, and Alberto Paloschi should have doubled Chievo's lead, but he was denied by Padelli.

In injury time of the first half, a terrible error by Dario Dainelli gifted the ball to Alessio Cerci who fed Ciro Immobile who was able to equalise just before the break.

Twenty minutes into the second half, Torino took the lead in sensational fashion when Ciro Immobile cut in from the left hand side before unleashing an excellent low drive beyond Chievo keeper Christian Puggioni. With ten minutes remaining, Toro put the result beyond any doubt on the counter, as the unselfish Alessio Cerci fed Giuseppe Vives to score his first Serie A goal for Toro.

In injury time, Torino ensured that a second home game of the season was to end 4-1 to Toro, as Alessio Cerci ended his mini goal drought by placing a low shot into the bottom corner.

This was an extremely impressive victory for Toro, as they came back from the adversity of going beyond before convincingly beating a side who had previously been in impressive form. Torino end 2013 in 7th place, and a top ten finish seems to be an extremely realistic proposition for the Granata heading into the New Year.

Forza Toro!

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Torino V Chievo Preview

Torino will be looking for their third consecutive home victory when they face Chievo on Sunday afternoon.

Vice Captain Danilo D'Ambrosio continues to miss out ahead of his anticipated transfer in the January transfer window, with the former Juve Stabia man being heavily linked with a move to AC Milan. Elsewhere, experienced Swede Alexander Farnerud, who had impressed during Torino's recent run is suspended, whilst Nikola Maksimovic is expected to continue in defence after his excellent performance against Udinese.

Chievo's form has improved under the stewardship of former Torino midfielder Eugenio Corini, and like Torino, they have won three of their last four games - and have kept five clean sheets in their past six games, so this is a difficult game to predict.

Torino 1-0 Chievo

Monday, 16 December 2013

Udinese 0-2 Torino

Torino produced one of their best performances of the season, as they surprisingly beat Udinese 2-0 on Sunday afternoon.

The Granata lined up in a 3-5-2 formation, with Serbian defender Nikola Maksimovic surprisingly given his first start of the season.

The home side started well, and the returning Antonio Di Natale had a half chance from six yards but his tame shot was easily held by Daniele Padelli. Toro were also creating chances, and Ciro Immobile should have given them the lead after Alessio Cerci's back heel, but he blazed over the crossbar.

However, Toro did take the lead moments into the second half after a blistering counter attack initiated by a tackle by captain Kamil Glik, and ended with Alexander Farnerud calmly lifting the ball over Zeljko Brkic in the home goal.

Dusan Basta was the most impressive player for Udinese, and he almost scored an equaliser in sensational fashion, but his long range shot was tipped over the bar by former teammate Padelli.

But with fifteen minutes to go, Torino put the result beyond doubt when Matteo Darmian's excellent cross was headed home by Ciro Immobile, who continued his fine run of goalscoring form. Udinese midfielder Andrea Lazzarri should have got a goal back with a free header from a corner, but he missed the target, and Toro were not to be denied a second consecutive clean sheet.

This was an extremely impressive victory by Torino as they went to a notoriously difficult place to go, and for large spells outplayed their hosts, whilst being extremely clinical on the counter attack. Torino can end the year in 7th place with a victory against Chievo next Sunday, and in their current form I certainly wouldn't be betting against them.

Forza Toro.

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Udinese V Torino Preview

Torino will travel to the North-East of Italy in search of a third win in four matches as they face Udinese on Sunday afternoon.

The Granata will be without Danilo D'Ambrosio through injury, and with the full back still not committing to sign a new contract with the club, he could be sold in the January transfer window.

Omar El Kaddouri, who withdraw from the starting eleven extremely late on in the victory against Lazio has recovered from his injury and is expected to start tomorrow.

Udinese have had mixed results so far this season, and a currently in 14th position - seven places below Torino, although to emphasise the close nature of the league table, only two points separates the two sides.

The home side will be boosted by the fact that star striker Antonio Di Natale, who has been Serie A Capocannoniere in two of the last four seasons has returned to the Udinese squad after being sidelined through injury.

Udinese 2-1 Torino

Monday, 9 December 2013

Torino 1-0 Lazio

Torino continued their good run of recent form by winning their second successive home game with a fortunate 1-0 victory over Lazio.

A late injury to Omar El Kaddouri meant Toro had to change their team at extremely late notice, with Danilo D'Ambrosio coming into the starting eleven and the Granata reverting to the 3-5-2 formation they had began the season with.

Against the run of play, Toro took the lead after twenty minutes when the Lazio defence failed to deal with a Torino set piece and an unmarked D'Ambrosio was left to inadvertently pass to Kamil Glik who gave the home side the lead.

Lazio should have equalised moments later, but the Bosnian Senad Lulic somehow managed to head over the bar from close range. And Toro also came close to scoring a second goal, when good interplay from D'Ambrosio and Alessio Cerci led to the Italy international forcing a save from former Toro keeper Federico Marchetti.

Before the half time break, Argentine midfielder Lucas Biglia came close to scoring with a low drive from long range, but a great save from Danielle Padelli meant Torino held on to their lead at the interval.

The Granata seemed content to try and hold on to what they had in the second half, and Lazio failed to seriously penetrate a well organised Toro defence. However, Brazilian playmaker Hernanes came closest to scoring, but his speculative drive flew narrowly over the top of the bar. Torino should have put the game beyond doubt with a late counter attack in the second half, but top scorer Alessio Cerci wasted an opportunity when well placed.

Toro will be pleased with this victory, as despite not playing well they were able to hold on to secure an impressive victory that moved them up to seventh place. The Granata also managed to secure their first clean sheet since the opening day of the season, which shows an improvement in a defence that has struggled at times this season.

Forza Toro!

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Torino V Lazio Preview

Torino will be looking to continue their run of good form when they face Lazio at the Stadio Olimpico on Sunday afternoon.

Toro defender Cesare Bovo who has impressed in recent weeks is out injured, so Torino will have to make at least one change to the team that came so close to beating Genoa last weekend. That change could mean yet another change in formation, although the return of Danilo D'Ambrosio could also see Matteo Darmian revert to becoming one the three centre backs in Bovo's absence.

Opponents Lazio have been in miserable form as of late, and have only won one of their last nine matches - and were most recently beaten 4-2 at home by Napoli on Monday. Lazio have their injury problems, and will be without the prolific Miroslav Klose for this fixture.

Last season, Torino won this game 1-0 thanks to a late goal from Jonathas in incredibly snowy conditions, which should hopefully not be repeated this time - although another Toro victory would certainly be most welcome.

Torino 1-1 Lazio

Monday, 2 December 2013

Genoa 1-1 Torino

Torino were denied a second away victory of the season, as an inspired performance from Mattia Perin gave the home side a point.

Giampiero Ventura reverted to a 3-5-2 formation with captain Kamil Glik returning to the side, whilst Giovanni Pasquale was given a rare start at left wing back in place of the suspended Danilo D'Ambrosio.

The Granata should have taken the lead inside a minute, but Omar El Kaddouri, who scored twice against Catania last week, could only hit the post when through on goal. However moments later Toro did take the lead in extremely fortuitous circumstances when Alexander Farnerud's long range strike deflected off the heels of El  Kaddouri before creeping into the corner of the net.

The away side were taking the game to the opponents, and Mattia Perin the home goalkeeper had to make good saves to first deny Alessio Cerci and then Cesare Bovo who tried his luck with an ambitious long range effort.

Croatian defender Sime Vrsaljko came closest to equalising for Genoa when his shot from distance rebounded off the post. This incident led to Toro keeper Daniele Padelli being substituted, and it was rumoured that the former Udinese stopper had been suffering from illness in the first half as well. Padelli was replaced by Primavera product Lys Gomis, one of three goalkeeping brothers Torino have on their books, who came on to make his Serie A debut.

At the other end, Ciro Immobile was giving centre back Daniele Portanova a torrid time, but the former Genoa striker was unable to find a way past his former team mate Perrin. Il Grifone got their equaliser with twenty minutes remaining from an unlikely source when Davide Biondini scored after Matteo Darmian was caught out of position.

Torino had an excellent chance to regain the lead immediately, but once again Mattia Perin stood in the way as he made saves from Alessio Cerci, and then spectacularly, Ciro Immobile on the rebound.

Whilst a point away from home against an in form Genoa side looks like a decent result on paper, in reality Toro will be disappointed not to get the victory that they deserved. However, their performance was certainly an encouraging one, and with winnable games against Lazio, Udinese and Chievo before Christmas, Torino will be hoping for a couple of similar performances before the winter break.

Forza Toro!

Friday, 29 November 2013

Genoa V Torino Preview

Torino will aim to win back-to-back games for the first time this season as they travel to Genoa on Saturday evening.

The Granata will be without Danilo D'Ambrosio who is suspended, whilst Kamil Glik, Matteo Brighi and Alessandro Gazzi are all hoping to be recalled.

Striker Ciro Immobile has been in excellent form in recent weeks, having scored five goals in his last seven appearances and he will be looking to continue those exploits against his former side.

Genoa have been in good form themselves in recent weeks, having won three of their last four matches, and only conceding one goal in the process. However, a victory for Toro will move them above il Grifone in the league table.

Genoa 1-1 Torino

Monday, 25 November 2013

Torino 4-1 Catania

Torino secured their first victory since the end of September after a convincing 4-1 victory over Catania at the Stadio Olimpico on Sunday.

Giampiero Ventura decided to keep faith with goalkeeper Danielle Padelli, whilst captain Kamil Glik was again left on the bench with Cesare Bovo being preferred. In midfield, Alexander Farnerud and Migjen Basha were surprise selections, whilst Omar El Kaddouri, Ciro Immobile and Alessio Cerci formed an exciting trio in attack.

An excellent turn and shot from Ciro Immobile almost gave Toro a lead within the opening couple of minutes, but he was denied by Mariano Andujar. From the resulting corner, Immobile hit the bar with a header, and then Emiliano Moretti somehow volleyed over from close range.

However, Torino deservedly went ahead in the tenth minute after former Juventus defender Nicola Legrottaglie somehow lost his footing, and that allowed Immobile to go through on goal before calmly finishing past Andujar.

The former Genoa striker was having an enjoyable afternoon, and he should have doubled Toro's lead when he received an excellent through ball from Omar El Kaddouri, and then rounded the goalkeeper - but he was unable to finish from a difficult angle.

But Toro were able to double their advantage sixty seconds later, when a mistimed interception by Tiberio Guarente set the ball up perfectly for El Kaddouri, and the Moroccan international scored his first goal for the club with ease.

The away side got a goal back five minutes after the break when substitute Sebastian Leto's left footed shot looped over Padelli and into the net. The Granata were particularly upset at this goal, as they felt they should have been awarded a penalty moments earlier when Jaroslav Plašil fouled El Kaddouri in the area.

However, Torino re-established their two goal advantage ten minutes later when Alessio Cerci's corner was glanced home by the veteran defender Emiliano Moretti. And two minutes later the result was put beyond any doubt when El Kaddouri scored his second goal of the game after Immobile's initial shot was saved.

Toro had opportunities to make the scoreline more impressive, but top scorer Alessio Cerci twice decided to go for goal himself despite the fact a simple pass would have given a team mate a simple tap in.

This was a much needed result for Torino, and will hopefully kick start a season that had began in impressive fashion. Toro's next two fixtures against Genoa and Lazio are both winnable games, and positive results in those fixtures could alter the narrative of Toro's campaign dramatically.

Forza Toro!

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Torino V Catania Preview

After dwelling on their last minute defeat against Cagliari for two weeks, Torino are back in action at home to Catania on Sunday afternoon.

The Granata have not won in eight matches, and despite a promising start to the season could quickly become embroiled in yet another relegation battle. Alexander Farnerud has returned to the squad after injury, whilst Daniele Padelli's position as number one could be in jeopardy after making a number of mistakes in recent weeks.

Opponents Catania have had a poor start to the season, especially in comparison to their impressive campaign last season. Gli Elefanti are currently in the bottom three, and have been extremely poor on the road - losing all six of their away games this season.

Torino 2-1 Catania

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Cagliari 2-1 Torino

For the second consecutive season, an injury time winner from Daniele Conti denied Torino a deserved point against Cagliari.

Giampiero Ventura surprisingly left club captain Kamil Glik on the bench, as Toro lined up in a 4-3-3 formation with Cesare Bovo and Emiliano Moretti as the two centre backs. Striker Ciro Immobile also returned to the starting eleven, as did Matteo Brighi.

Torino had a number of chances to take the lead in the first half, with Alessio Cerci forcing Vlad Avramov into a couple of saves. However, on the stroke of half time it was the home side who took the lead via Daniele Conti's free kick. After dominating the opening period the Granata were disappointed to concede a goal in that fashion, and both the Torino wall and Daniele Padelli will feel they could have done more to prevent it.

However, seven minutes into the second half Ciro Immobile scored a deserved equaliser for Torino, as he expertly controlled Omar El Kaddouri's through ball before sliding the ball into the bottom corner. Immobile almost gave Toro the lead in sensational fashion moment later, however his speculative volley flew over the bar.

And with only one minute of normal time remaining, Daniele Conti struck with a set piece once again, as he fired the ball past Padelli for the second time, this time having been set up by substitute Andrea Cossu.

After being the better side for much of the game, and seemingly being happy to settle for a deserved point away from home, to end up with nothing was a bitter pill to swallow for the Granata. For the first time this season, serious questions are being asked regarding Daniele Padelli's position as number 1, and a number of fans (myself included) would like to see Lys Gomis given an opportunity to stake his claim in the first team.

With the international break coming up next week, Toro will not play again for the fortnight - when they face Catania at home. Although it is still very early in the season, this game could already be placed in the 'must win' category, as Toro look to end a run of eight games without a win.

Forza Toro

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Cagliari v Torino Preview

After becoming the first team to take a point off of league leaders Roma, Torino travel to Sardinia in search of their first victory since September.

Torino's injury problems continue, and they will be without both Giovanni Pasquale and Paulo Barreto, although the inclusion of Cesare Bovo in the squad could mean that Toro return to a three man defence.

Cagliari have been in poor form recently, and have lost their last three fixtures and they will be hoping for a repeat of last season's match between the two sides. The RossoBlu beat nine-man Torino 4-3 after scoring a late winner deep in injury time, moments after Rolando Bianchi had equalised from the spot.

Cagliari 1-2 Torino

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Torino 1-1 Roma

After winning their opening ten Serie A fixtures, Roma's record-breaking start to the season came to an end on Sunday evening after a 1-1 draw with Torino.

Giampiero Ventura surprisingly reverted to a 4-2-4 formation that was their trademark for the majority of last season. Ciro Immobile was dropped to the bench, as Riccardo Meggiorini and Paulo Barreto started up front, whilst Migjen Basha returned from suspension in midfield.

The league leaders almost took an early lead after a spectacular volley from Alessandro Florenzi from the edge of the area, but the ball sailed over the bar. However, on the half hour mark Roma did take the lead, when Alessio Cerci fell asleep from a short corner, which allowed Miralem Pjanic the room to cross for Kevin Strootman, who scored from close range.

However, Torino's star man Cerci set about trying to make amends for that error as his curling shot forced Morgan De Sanctis into an excellent save. On the stroke of half time, another brilliant run from the former Roma winger gave Omar El Kaddouri an opportunity, but his shot was disappointing.

The Granata almost equalised in sensational fashion, when Migjen Basha's diagonal ball was met with an exquisite left footed volley by Riccardo Meggiorini, but once again the home side were denied by De Sanctis.

However, with just over an hour on the clock, Torino got a deserved equalised after the usually reliable Medhi Benatia was dispossessed by Meggiorini, and the former Bari striker kept calm to roll the ball across goal and give Alessio Cerci a tap in. Incredibly, that was only the second goal that Roma have conceded so far this season.

Roma struggled to create clear cut chances after conceding the equaliser, and they were unable to prolong their perfect start to the season, despite substitute Adem Ljajic hitting the target with a late free kick.

This was a fine performance from Torino, and they deservedly came out of the game with a point. However, it must be said that they were somewhat fortunate to face a Roma side without both Francesco Totti and Gervinho - arguably their two best players this season. However, it was an impressive achievement to be the team to break Roma's winning run, however the fact that this result also extended Toro's own run without a win to seven games continues to be a worry.

Forza Toro!

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Torino V Roma Preview

After the dramatic events of Wednesday's 3-3 draw against Livorno, the Granata face another tough challenge as league leaders Roma visit the Olimpico.

Torino have a lengthy list of absentees, and Guillermo Rodriguez, Alexander Farnerud and Marcelo Larrondo will all miss this game. However, former Roma midfielder Matteo Brighi returns to the squad, whilst Cesare Bovo has also returned from injury.

League leaders Roma have been re-writing the record books as they have opened the season with an incredible ten wins out of ten. But coach Rudi Garcia also has selection issues, with Gervinho and Francesco Totti both missing out due to injury. Centre back Leandro Castan is also suspended, so Nicolas Burdisso is expected to deputise - and it remains to be seen whether this slight change could cause disruption to a back four that has only conceded one goal this season.

Match Prediction
Torino 1-1 Roma

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Livorno 3-3 Torino

Despite taking a 2-0 lead within the opening ten minutes, Torino still needed a late Alessio Cerci penalty in order to rescue a point in Tuscany on Wednesday evening.

Giampiero Ventura surprised many by setting Toro out in an attacking 4-3-3 formation, as the returning Omar El Kaddouri started wide on the left, with Alessio Cerci in his favoured position on the right wing.

The Granata made a blistering start and were ahead after just four minutes, as Cerci beat Giuseppe Gemiti for pace, before delivering an excellent right footed cross for Ciro Immobile to tap home.

Then moments later, the visitors doubled their lead when a Cerci corner was headed in by captain Kamil Glik, who scored his first goal of the season.

However, Livorno reacted well to that early set back, although it must be said they were assisted in getting back into the match by Torino who continued to give the ball back to the hosts. On the twenty-five minute mark, the home side got a goal back, when Pasquale Schiattarella's low cross was turned in by Paulinho. 

And just eight minutes later, Livorno grabbed a deserved equaliser when an excellent dummy from Paulinho attracted three players to him, and that gave Leandro Greco the space to score from the edge of the area.

Torino almost regained the lead just before half time, but home goalkeeper Francesco Bardi made an outstanding save to deny Kamil Glik his second goal of the evening.

In the second half, Livorno almost took the lead for the first time in the match, but Daniele Padelli made an excellent save with his legs to deny striker Innocent Emeghara. 

However, the former Udinese goalkeeper could do nothing to prevent defender Emerson from giving his side the lead on the hour mark. The Brazilian defender ran from his own half unleashing an unstoppable left footed shot from 35 yards to leave Padelli stranded.

But Torino showed some character to come back into the match, and they thought they had equalised when substitute Paulo Barreto played in Danilo D'Ambrosio, but the full back could only hit the post. With just minutes remaining, Torino received a lifeline when defender Leandro Rinaudo handled Ciro Immobile's goal bound effort and referee Paolo Valeri pointed to the spot.

Despite missing a penalty in the game against Inter, Alessio Cerci made no mistake on this occasion and he capped an excellent individual performance with a crucial goal. As Italian football pundit James Horncastle pointed out, Torino certainly aren't boring this season, but if they are to improve on last season's finish of 16th, they will have to learn to defend much better.

However, thankfully Torino have a nice easy game at the weekend - as league leaders Roma, who have won nine games out of nine, and conceded just one goal come to the Stadio Olimpico. 

Forza Toro

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Livorno V Torino Preview

Torino travel to Tuscany in search of their first victory in over a month as they face newly promoted Livorno on Wednesday evening.

Ciro Immobile has returned from suspension and is included in the squad, whilst Omar El Kaddouri has also been included after missing a number of games with an injury.

Livorno, managed by former Toro defender Davide Nicola made a solid start to the season after their surprise promotion in the summer - although after winning two of their opening three fixtures, they are now without a win in six.

Livorno 1-2 Torino

Monday, 28 October 2013

Napoli 2-0 Torino

Torino were punished by two controversial refereeing decisions as a brace of Gonzalo Higuian penalties gave Napoli a 2-0 victory over the Granata.

Kamil Glik returned to the back three after suspension, whilst there were also rare starts for Salvatore Masiello and Nicola Bellomo.

Things got off to a bad start after only fifteen minutes, when Bellomo was adjudged to have fouled Belgian winger Dries Mertens in the area. On first look it seemed like a fair decision, but on the replay it seemed as though the former PSV player had wrapped his leg around the Torino midfielder's leg in order to initiate contact. Former Real Madrid striker Gonzalo Higuian stepped up to take the penalty, and the Argentine made no mistake, as he blasted the ball into the top corner.

Higuian had a great chance to double Napoli's lead after linking up with Mertens, but he was denied by a great save from Danielle Padelli. However, after some help from the additional official behind the goal, referee Andrea De Marco awarded Napoli another penalty, after Kamil Glik was adjudged to have handled - despite the fact he was only inches away from Federico Fernandez's strike. And just as he had done a quarter of an hour previously, Higuain stepped up to convert the penalty, this time sending Padelli the wrong way.

The home side should have extended their lead moments later, as Padelli came rushing out of his goal to make a clearance, but failed to make any contact with the ball. However, Napoli winger Lorenzo Insigne was unable to get the ball past the two covering Toro defenders.

Torino's first opportunity of the half was a long range free kick by Alessio Cerci, that was tipped over the bar by Jose Reina. Whilst from the resulting corner, captain Kamil Glik narrowly volleyed over the bar with Toro's best chance of the game.

With an important game against Livorno coming up on Wednesday, Giampiero Ventura took the opportunity to rest a few key players as it became obvious there was no way back for Toro in the second half - and Alessio Cerci, Alessandro Gazzi and Danilo D'Ambrosio were all replaced.

Substitute Riccardo Meggiorini came close to opening his account for the season, however his left footed shot from distance was comfortably saved by Reina. Daniele Padelli continued his reputation of being a good shot stopper (just a shame about his inability to claim crosses), as he made fine saves from Dries Mertens and then Jose Callejon.

In the dying moments, Migjen Basha was harshly sent off as he cynically fouled Goran Pandev, and was adjudged to be the last man - although it looked as though Torino had at least one defender covering.

That incident summed up a miserable afternoon for the Granata, and after going behind early, their attention seemed to be diverted to Wednesday's fixture at Livorno. That game is now crucial for a Torino side that has not won in five matches, with their only two victories this season coming against Sassuolo and Bologna - both of whom are in the bottom three.

Forza Toro!

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Napoli V Torino Preview

Torino will make the long journey south to Napoli on Sunday afternoon as they look to earn their first victory since September 22nd.

The Granata were disappointed not to beat Inter last weekend, especially after they twice took the lead against a side who had 10 men for 85 minutes.

Toro will be without one of the goalscorers from that game, as Alexander Farnerud is injured, and that could allow Nicola Bellomo - who equalised so dramatically against Inter - to be his replacement. Captain Kamil Glik has returned from suspension, so he should return to the starting eleven.

Napoli have started well under the stewardship of Rafa Benitez, and were apparently unlucky to lose to league leaders Roma last week. Whilst they rebounded to that defeat with a victory in the Champions League against Marseille, the Granata will be looking to capatilise on any fatigue from the partenopei.

Napoli 3-1 Torino

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Torino 3-3 Inter

For once it was Torino who scored a last minute equaliser, as substitute Nicola Bellomo's free kick earnt Torino a deserved point against ten man Inter.

With an injury crisis in defence, midfielder Giuseppe Vives started in the back three - whilst Alessandro Gazzi and Paulo Barreto both surprisingly started after their ban for their role in the Calcio Scommese scandal came to an end.

Toro made an electric start, and top scorer Alessio Cerci hit the post with a volley in the opening few minutes. And moments later, the same player was upended in the area by Inter keeper Samir Handanovic, and Torino were awarded a penalty. In addition to the spot kick, the Slovenian was, somewhat harshly, sent off.

Cerci stepped up to take the penalty himself, but the Italian international was denied after substitute Juan Pablo Carrizo pulled off an excellent save. However, mid-way through the half the Granata did take the lead when Alexander Farnerud scored his first goal for the club with a volley inside the area after the ball was deflected into his path by an Inter defender.

But on the stroke of half time, Inter equalised when Torino failed to deal with a set piece - and some unconvincing goalkeeping from Daniele Padelli allowed Freddy Guarin to score with an extravagant overhead kick. However, just after half time Torino recovered from that blow to regain the lead when substitute Ciro Immobile fired the ball into the top corner from the edge of the box.

However, less than two minutes later Torino let a lead slip once again, as some terrible goalkeeping from Padelli allowed Argentine striker Rodrigo Palacio to head the ball into an empty net. And fifteen minutes later, the former Genoa striker scored his second goal of the game, when he converted an excellent cross from Ishak Belfodil to give ten man Inter a shock lead.

And just when it looked that Torino would come out of this game empty handed, substitute Nicola Bellomo curled a free kick from wide on the left touchline into the top corner - in a goal extremely reminiscent of Ronaldinho's against England in the 2002 World Cup. Whilst I'm not entirely sure that Bellomo intended to score from such a difficult angle, it earnt Torino a deserved point from a game they arguably should have won.

Forza Toro

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Torino V Inter Preview

Torino will be looking to improve their miserable recent record against the so-called 'bigger' teams in Italian football, as they face Inter on Sunday evening.

The Granata will be without Kamil Glik who is suspended, whilst injury concerns over Guillermo Rodriguez and Cesare Bovo could lead to Giampiero Ventura reverting to a four man defence. If Toro line up in a new formation, Alessio Cerci could return to his favoured position on the wing, and Riccardo Meggiorini - who scored a brace against Inter last season - could start.

Under new coach Walter Mazzarri, Inter have made a strong start to the campaign - however in the last match before the winter break, they suffered a disappointing 3-0 home defeat to a Francesco Totti inspired Roma.

Match Prediction
Torino 1-1 Inter

Maratona and Elsewhere #16/bis : The Grumbling Appendix

On Elvis Costello & The Attractions’ 1980 album, “Get Happy”, there is a track entitled “Clowntime Is Over”. I think we can say with complete confidence that Mr MacManus wasn’t referring to Serie A referees when he wrote that one.

Davide Massa was suspended for his handling of our game against Milan, then we had Paolo Silvio Mazzoleni’s one-eyed masterclass in the derby and talk of Daniele Orsato also being suspended for not knowing how to use a flag. No such luck; Orsato refereed Lazio vs. Fiorentina the following week and found sufficient time to wave his yellow card on eight separate occasions. Then came Nine-Bookings-The-Clown (to use his Native American name) Andrea Gervasoni’s horrorshow in, and ban following, the Sampdoria game. Their last-gasp penalty was laughable enough, but blowing for half-time as they “scored” was embarrassing. We can argue that we have five points fewer than we should have, thanks to these individuals. Five points that would put us in a European place just behind our next opponents, Inter. Ah, another of the “big” teams. Expect we’ll get a raw deal against them on Sunday night, then. No idea as yet which buffoon will be given the whistle.

Actually, Mazzoleni deserves a special mention. Those who remember last year’s outrageous SuperCoppa game in Beijing in which Napoli were robbed by (guess who?) Venaria Town may remember him. Napoli were leading 2-1 after 70 minutes or so, then Mazzoleni sent off two of their players and manager Mazzari and awarded a penalty to the gobbi. There is a Mazzoleni family up in the mountains near Turin who make their living as skiing instructors, so I’m told. Gobbi to a man, they apparently deny being related to this guy. Can’t say I blame them.
We’re towards the end of the international break (I’m writing this on the morning of Tuesday, October 15th) and I’ve been finding it difficult to raise much enthusiasm for this round of fixtures, but the prospect of Kamil Glik, Jakub Błaszczykowski , Robert Lewandowski et al pissing on England’s chips is an interesting one. Forty years almost to the day since Jan Tomaszewski’s goalkeeping heroics prevented England from going to the World Cup Finals in West Germany in 1974, I’m hoping that the 18,000 Polish fans at Wembley drown out that fucking awful English brass band. There is something endearingly moronic about the supporters of certain English national sports teams: we have the “Barmy Army”, who are a bunch of tone-deaf drunks who detract from any cricketing occasion; we have the meat pie manufacturer-sponsored aforementioned brass band who follow the football team and seem to have a repertoire of three tunes (I use the words “repertoire” and “tunes” advisedly); and we have the smug, white, middle-class rugby union types who see no irony in singing the negro spiritual “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” at Twickenham. Bless ‘em.

I’m expecting a full Stadio Olimpico on Sunday; it was full last time Inter came, and I see no reason for it not to be so this time. Isn’t it strange how the stadium’s full when we play teams from the city of Milan and not when we play our so-called cousins? It would appear to the untrained eye that the Milanisti and Interisti live closer to Turin than the gobbi. 

I’m not sure what to expect of the game itself, other than the customary refereeing blunders. With injuries and suspensions, we have no defence at the moment and Inter apparently have problems in attack. That said, with Marcelo Larrondo of the broken foot, Ciro “one goal this season” Immobile and the Meggiorini, one could argue that we have problems in attack, too. The returns of Gazzi and Barreto are better than a poke in the eye, I suppose, but the rumours of Vives playing in defence don’t exactly fill me with confidence.

Milan themselves? Bravo to Philippe Mexès for maintaining his impressive run of petulance in Piemonte. At least this time he hit that shrinking violet and epitome of fair play Giorgio Chiellini, instead of aiming a slap at our Head of Ticketing. As for his club, they were hauled over the coals for their supporters’ alleged racist chanting when they played the gobbi last week. Fined €50k and ordered to play Udinese behind closed doors. Only one slight problem: there was no racist chanting by the Milan supporters. There was no independent, verifiable evidence of racist chanting.

Somehow I can’t imagine Venaria Town being told to play behind closed doors by the (spineless, corrupt, brown-nosing) football authorities in this country, despite their shameful record of racist chanting. I’ve lifted this directly from The Guardian’s “Said & Done” column from October 12th, which they themselves lifted from the Gazzetta dello Sport two days previously, as an example:

“Fabio Cannavaro, revealing why Juventus fans like to aim racist abuse at Mario Balotelli: "It's out of fear, perhaps respect. He has an attitude they don't like, he's strong and opponents are scared of him. That's why they tease him."

So that’s all right, then. Singing “if you jump, Balotelli dies” shows respect. I’ve heard some bullshit in my lifetime...
I’d like to finish on a high note, for once, so... some good news! We’ve won something! According to the aforementioned Gazzetta, we have been voted the best fans in Serie A by the 50 Anonymous Players (whoever they are).We came top with 18% of the vote! Ok, that’s only nine players out of fifty, but a win’s a win!

See you again next week to moan and drip about our loss / to celebrate our victory over Inter (delete as applicable).


P.S.: A former football manager who shall remain nameless once declared that football wasn’t a matter of life-and-death; it was more important than that. I don’t believe this for a moment. However, I have recently discovered that my father has prostate cancer and I’d like to encourage anyone reading this to consider supporting Movember next month. Even if you end up looking like an ageing pornstar for a couple of weeks, as I suspect I will, it’s for a very good cause.

Steve is a season ticket holder who moved to Torino in 2009 after meeting a Torinese lady called Raffaella on Facebook - you can follow Steve on Twitter here.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Maratona and Elsewhere #16 : “Bury my heart at Wounded Ankle”

Torino 0-1 Juventus 29.09.13

So we didn’t get the dry-aged prime rib we thought we had ordered. We didn’t get the bottle of Barolo either, but rather a table wine that tasted like it had actually been made from a table.

Derby day had begun pleasantly enough with a quasi-traditional English breakfast – and, at the risk of blowing my own trumpet and thereby making a terrible pun, my homemade baked beans were very well-received – but events soon took on a vaguely farcical quality. For future reference, whoever it is at City Hall who is responsible for public events might need to rethink the scheduling of a half-marathon on the morning of a derby. Driving to the stadium was an almighty pain in the arse.

Giving them the entire Curva Primavera put a nose or two out of joint, mine included. Eight-hundred-and-something of our Primavera members, some of whom are elderly and in no condition whatsoever for the Maratona, were obliged to either vacate their seats and move to the Maratona or not come to the game at all. The rationale behind this decision was a purely financial one; to shift more tickets. We, the feckless, irresponsible supporters, apparently never fill the stadium, so giving us fewer tickets was clearly what the doctor ordered. And what happened? The gobbi didn’t sell their entire allocation. Cairo’s customary reverse Midas touch in action.

And what of our visitors? They were virtually inaudible from where I was standing, though I understand that they were all that television viewers could hear. A similar divorce from reality was evident in some of their banners, the second largest of which proclaimed “MILANO”. Another simply read “011”, which probably serves as a reminder of the Turin dialling code when they call from home in Calabria and Puglia to buy tickets.

We, unusually, had a drummer. Any reader who is familiar with the joke about Ringo Starr and a foot spa will need no further explanation.

The game itself was less than gripping and doesn’t merit further discussion here. Our grand total of zero goal attempts on target speaks volumes. Yes, there were some controversial incidents, but as a spectacle it lacked quality.

Everyone saw that Carlos Tevez was offside and that Pogba’s goal should not have stood. Even the BBC and Paolo Bandini at “The Guardian” commented on it, and either of them commenting about Torino is about as rare as rocking-horse shit, so there is no need for further discussion here, either.

Some of the post-game tit-for-tat stuff was possibly of more, if academic, interest. Bastardo parruccato pluricondannato Conte said that Ciro Immobile should have been sent off for his challenge on Tevez, and that they would have won against 10 men even without the offside goal, considering their attacking superiority (see below). However, referee Mazzoleni was clearly wary of sending off half a Juventus player, and so Immobile stayed on the pitch. Tevez posted photos of his not-broken ankle on Twitter. Cairo pointed out that Marcelo Larrondo hadn’t posted any photos of his very-much-broken foot two weeks previously. [Miraculously, Tevez was fit to play for 55 minutes following Immobile’s 36th minute challenge and in the Champions League against Galatasaray three days later.]

Conte was also quoted as saying that they had attacked for 70 minutes, as if to reinforce their “we deserved to win despite being wrongly awarded the winning goal” party line. A quick visit to, however, reveals that possession was 52% to 48% in their favour. Let’s do some quick arithmetic, shall we? 52% of 90 minutes comes to 46 minutes and 48 seconds; that’s as near as “fuck you and the cat on your head, Conte” dammit one-third less than 70 minutes. Interestingly, if we apply the same rocket science to the number of scudetti Juventus claim to have won legitimately, we arrive at a figure not a million miles away from Zdenek Zeman’s “22 or 23 maximum”. As the completely impartial put it, Conte must have been a lot better at Italian at school than at mathematics.

His attempts to claim some kind of moral superiority having won yet another match thanks to a dubious refereeing decision made me more than a tad bilious. I seem to recall a certain Venaria Town manager who bore an uncanny resemblance to the Antonio Conte who received a 10-month ban last year for failing to report match fixing. Swore his innocence, but made a plea bargain. Strange behaviour for an innocent man, wouldn’t you think, entering a plea bargain?

Maybe he was just anxious because he’d never previously managed an entire derby against a team of 11 players? But his style (and, in fact, the so-called stile Juventus) is the diametric opposite of fair play, which often appears to be a foreign language in football. In Italy we have the concept of “furbizia”, which roughly translates as “cunning” but can be taken to mean ”gaining an unfair advantage by circumventing the rules and/or accepted conventions”. Examples of this could include agreeing a price with a tradesman and then paying less upon completion of the job, or, I don’t know, injecting football players with erythropoietin or conspiring to rig football matches or something (shrugs shoulders).

If honesty and fair play are not part of your make-up, it is very unlikely that you will be able to identify and appreciate these traits in – or transmit them to - other people. The skills underlying the ability to make a correct judgement are the same as those required to recognise a correct judgement. [See Kruger J, Dunning D. “Unskilled and unaware of it: how difficulties in recognizing one’s own incompetence lead to inflated self-assessments”. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (1999); 77; 6: 121-34. Or, better still, read about it in Ben Goldacre’s “Bad Science” (ISBN 978-0-00-728487-0).]

Juventus’ parent company, Exor, has total assets of €125.85 billion. We play in a renovated version of their old stadium. Our hands are down the back of the sofa, looking for money to rebuild Filadelfia, while the (juventino) Piero Fassino-led City Council leases Juventus 180,000 square metres of public land at Continassa at 58 cents per square metre for 99 years. (Alessandro Cavasinni at Gazzetta dello Sport reports that certain Council members will soon be up before the beak). Is this fair play in action?

Fassino also appointed a certain Giuseppe Alberto Zunino to be President of the Fondazione Filadelfia, though my understanding is that, thanks to online petitions (see and making our disgust crystal clear, the latter has declined the job. Why exactly would a gobbo Mayor choose a man with FIAT connections and a criminal conviction related to the construction industry to manage the reconstruction of the home of Il Grande Torino? Is this honesty in action?

Away from balance sheets and courtrooms, a vocal section of their support is of the opinion that there are no black Italians. This is a classic example of the aforementioned inability to recognise one’s own general ignorance – we even sold them a black Italian three months ago, porco dio! And, like their manager and their in-house comedy “newspaper” Tuttosport, these people will not be winning the Nobel Prize for Mathematics any time soon. Not as long as they believe, contrary to all available evidence, that 28 plus 1 equals 31.

Do Juventus, their owners, and their supporters all come from a parallel universe where there is no honesty or fair play, only furbizia? If they are visitors from another dimension – maybe David Icke and his tinfoil hat could tell us about the Agnelli, the Bilderberg Group, and extra-terrestrial lizards? – those who lack ignorance bring with them a peculiar soul-corroding cynicism. Granata is the antithesis of such cynicism.

Forza Toro sempre.

PS: Follow OperazioneDelleAlpion Twitter to learn more about how they got their old stadium on the cheap.

Steve is a season ticket holder who moved to Torino in 2009 after meeting a Torinese lady called Raffaella on Facebook - you can follow Steve on Twitter here.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Sampdoria 2-2 Torino

Torino once again dropped two points in the dying seconds as they conceded an injury time penalty against Sampdoria.

The Granata made just the one change from the team that played Juventus last weekend, as the injured Guillermo Rodriguez was replaced by Cesare Bovo.

However, within the opening ten minutes Bovo himself picked up an injury and had to be replaced by Giovanni Pasquale. The on loan Udinese defender was involved in Toro's first attack of the game, but Alessio Cerci was unable to get on the end of his low cross.

A slip from Emiliano Moretti allowed former Toro striker Gianluca Sansone a strike on goal, but he was denied by Daniele Padelli in the Torino goal. However, Sansone did not have long to wait to score his inevitable goal, as he ran from the halfway line before firing a low shot into the bottom corner.

Sampdoria thought they had scored a second goal on the stroke of half time, after Angelo Palombo's free kick was initially saved by Padelli, and Nicola Pozzi converted the rebound. However, referee Andrea Gervasoni controversially disallowed the goal by blowing for half time before Pozzi scored.

Giampiero Ventura bravely changed his formation in the second half, bringing on Riccardo Meggiorini to switch to a 3-4-3 formation, and they were rewarded almost immediately. The home side neglected to mark Ciro Immobile from a corner, and he managed to equalise for Toro at the far post.

The Granata should have taken the lead moments later, but Alessio Cerci was denied by Angelo Da Costa. However, when Angelo Palombo upended the excellent Danilo D'Ambrosio in the area, Cerci made no mistake in beating the Brazilian from the spot.

However, Torino were once again denied maximum points when Eder threw himself to the ground under minimal contact from captain Kamil Glik in the area. Eder stepped up himself to score the penalty, and with a number of difficult fixtures coming up, Toro may live to rue this missed opportunity.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Sampdoria V Torino Preview

Torino will be looking to rebound after last weekend's disappointing performance in the derby, as they travel to Sampdoria on Sunday afternoon. 

Guillermo Rodriguez picked up an injury in the derby, so he is likely to be replaced by Cesare Bovo in the middle of Torino's back three. The midfield trio of Omar El Kaddouri, Giuseppe Vives and Matteo Brighi should all retain their places as they have been impressive this season.

Ciro Immobile is yet to score in the league this campaign, and being a former Genoa player he will have an added reason to open his account in this fixture. 

Sampdoria have had a disappointing start to the season, having failed to win a match in their opening six games. And having lost all three of their home fixtures, another defeat to the Granata could cost coach Delio Rossi his job.

Sampdoria 1-1 Torino

Monday, 30 September 2013

Torino 0-1 Juventus

Torino once again tasted defeat in the Derby della Mole against city rivals Juventus, although there was once again controversy as Paul Pogba's winning goal should have been disallowed.

The Granata lined up as expected with Ciro Immobile alongside Alessio Cerci upfront, whilst Matteo Brighi, Omar El Kaddouri, Giuseppe Vives and Kamil Glik all returned to the starting eleven.

The opening 45 minutes was a largely forgettable affair, although Torino had two half chances via Danilo D'Ambrosio's off target header and Alessio Cerci's free kick. At the other end, whilst Juventus had a fair amount of possession, they struggled to make it count in the final third, with Giuseppe Vives in particular doing a fine job of keeping the bianconeri at bay.

Juventus should have taken the lead moments after the break, when Carlos Tevez neat pass gave Sebastian Giovinco an excellent chance, but his low shot was straight at Daniele Padelli. 

However the away side did not have long to wait, as they took the lead soon afterwards - and once again it was a set piece that proved to be Torino's downfall. Although Tevez somehow hit the bar with a header after Leonardo Bonucci's flick on, the opportunistic Paul Pogba was on hand to put the ball in the net. However, as the replays later showed Carlos Tevez was at least a yard offside when his header hit the bar, and therefore it should not have stood. 

However, disappointingly for Torino they failed to react to adversity after going behind, and were unable to alter a game plan that was designed to frustrate Juventus and then hope to score on the counter attack. Torino could have went further behind, but were thankful to Padelli who made an outstanding save to deny substitute Mirko Vucinic, but Toro were unable to create anything of note to even give their supporters a glimmer of hope of forcing an equaliser.

However the most disappointing thing from a Granata perspective was the fact that they lacked a Plan B after going behind, and that whilst going behind to an offside goal was certainly unfortunate - in some ways this almost gave the players an excuse to hide behind, and that any post match criticism would easily by diverted onto the officials.

An entertaining exchange did occur sometime after the full time whistle, as both sides were involved in an online argument that was instigated by Juve coach Antonio Conte's bizarre claim that his side had dominated possession for 70 minutes. Torino responded with a statement on their official website questioning Conte's mathematics skills, as league statistics proved Juve only enjoyed 52% possession. 

The official Juventus Twitter account responded to this with good humour, by stating that they were still able to count to 0 - the number of shots Torino managed on goal during the ninety minutes. But the Torino Twitter account managed to have last word with a humorous jibe about the number of scudetti their neighbours have won - with the number 29 being a contentious number amongst Juventus fans, who maintain that they have won 31 titles despite two being revoked due to the Calciopoli scandal.

If only football matches were won as easily as arguments on Twitter, then Toro may not have had to wait eighteen years for their last victory against Juventus.

Forza Toro

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Maratona and Elsewhere #15 : "Insert Shakespeare reference here"

Torino 2-2 Hellas Verona - 25.09.13

Hellas Verona have one scudetto to their name, that of 1984/5. That season was unique in that it was the only season when referees were chosen at random instead of being assigned to specific matches by a special commission, the 'designatori arbitrali'. The idea behind this was to improve the image of the game after the usual match-fixing and corruption shenanigans; to eliminate the (ahem) possibility that certain clubs were influencing the appointment of certain referees to certain games with a view to distorting the results.

One doesn’t need an IQ over 70 to see that something strange had been happening:
  • In the 1980/1 Serie A season, Venaria Town won the scudetto and Roma finished 2nd.
  • In the 1981/2 Serie A season, Venaria Town won the scudetto and Roma finished 3rd. 
  • In the 1982/3 Serie A season, Roma won the scudetto and Venaria Town finished 2nd. 
  • In the 1983/4 Serie A season, Venaria Town won the scudetto and Roma finished 2nd. 
  • In the 1984/5 Serie A season, under the new referee selection system, Verona and Torino occupied the top two places, while Venaria Town finished equal 5th and Roma 7th. How refreshing!
But Steve,” – I hear you ask – “what happened in 1985/6 when the old system was reintroduced?”
  • In the 1985/6 Serie A season, Venaria Town won the scudetto and Roma finished 2nd. 
When we arrived at the stadium there was no real sense of anticipation. There was an atmosphere of “What the hell are we doing here on Wednesday night? The derby’s Sunday lunchtime.” With all due respect to Verona (“Veronese, sei un figlio di troia! Pezzo di merda sei tu! Sei giallo blu! Sei giallo blu!”), this wasn’t the match we were interested in. To me it was like being led to one’s table by the maître d’hôtel, ordering the thick, juicy, dry-aged prime rib and the bottle of Barolo, and then having to sip tap water and nibble distractedly on a breadstick in the meantime.

[I was still recovering from having to watch our first win in Bologna in thirty-three years on a dodgy live stream at my better half’s nephew’s 7th birthday party, surrounded by anklebiters, their sickeningly proud parents, squadrons of tiger mosquitoes and not nearly enough alcohol. I usually react badly to children and mosquitoes at the best of times. Other than penicillin, my only other allergy is to country and western music, and I was subjected to two hours of that in a classroom this week. “Stand By Your Man” three times, FFS. There are times in a man’s life when deafness would be a blessing. But I digress.]

So was Toro vs. Verona the calm before the storm? Well, there were some frayed tempers here and there, particularly on the concourse at half-time, but we didn’t have the all-out-brawl silliness of the Milan game. We’re anxious about Sunday, certainly, but I wasn’t aware of that anxiety affecting the players. I got into a conversation with a woman from the Red Cross having missed our second goal whilst on beer duty. She didn’t know who’d scored either, but the chant of “Alessio è! Alessio Cerci!” solved that problem. He later talked himself into a yellow card, more’s the pity. The fact that Kamil Glik spent the entire game on the bench avoiding a yellow card and suspension for the derby should have been a big enough hint for Cerci to keep his trap shut, but no. That Luca Toni’s a big lad, isn’t he?

The players left the pitch to our applause and an exhortation for Sunday: “UCCIDETELI!”

And so to more pressing matters. The gentle reader who believes that things come in threes will no doubt be aware that Cerci has converted penalties in our last two matches and that Glik was sent off in both last season’s derbies. There is no statistical law that states that these events cannot be repeated. However, though a card or two for our captain would not be a surprise, I simply can’t see us getting any change out of the hunchbacks in the penalty department, even with the aid of my bleach-and-cockroach-encrusted crystal ball (details available on request as always). The appointed referee Paolo Silvio Mazzoleni (an antique dealer from Bergamo, it says here) isn’t one I know, but we will have Daniel Orsato (an electrician from Vicenza) and our old friend Paolo Tagliavento (professional clown from Terni) as goal-line officials, so anything could happen. Incidentally, Tagliavento refereed the Bologna vs. Milan game last week, in which Milan were two goals down in the 88th minute and managed to draw in injury time. Does that sound familiar?

If we are to enjoy the benefit of a red card and a penalty, a not-unpleasant scenario would be Ciro Immobile scoring from the spot after (welcome home) Angelo Ogbonna takes an early bath. Personally, however, I would prefer the red card to be for Giorgio Chiellini, for whom I have a dislike bordering on the pathological.

My predictions? Well, it’s always better to be circumspect in situations such as these, so I’ll go for a poisonous atmosphere, Cerci marked and/or kicked out of the game, some dubious officiating and a defeat, our noses to be rubbed in it by the striped half of the stadium (yes, half – the ticketing arrangements have bordered upon risible). Here’s hoping I’m wrong.

Now to invoke the curse of my fantacalcio team (it’s called fastnbulbous!, Beefheart fans) upon as many of their players as possible.

A presto, tutti.


Steve is a season ticket holder who moved to Torino in 2009 after meeting a Torinese lady called Raffaella on Facebook - you can follow Steve on Twitter here.

Torino V Juventus Preview

Torino will be heading into the 228th Derby Della Mole in an optimistic mood having only lost one of the opening five Serie A fixtures.

However, recent history has not been kind for the Granata against their city rivals and Toro fans will be tired of reading the same statistics in their morning newspapers. However, in case anybody needs reminding - Torino have not beaten Juventus for eighteen years (April 1995) and have not scored a goal against them since 2002.

The above statistics certainly show that Toro will have their work cut out for them tomorrow to gain a positive result, but looking back at last seasons two fixtures against Juventus, Torino had their opportunities in both games. In the first derby at the Juventus stadium, Toro were very much in the game before Kamil Glik was harshly sent off before half time. And in the last fixture between the two teams, Torino were denied a blatant penalty when Jonathas was tugged back by Leonardo Bonucci, before they then succumbed to two late goals.

Captain Kamil Glik, who has a 100% record of being sent off in this fixture is expected to return to the starting line up after being rested in midweek. Meanwhile, the first choice midfield of Matteo Brighi, Giuseppe Vives and Omar El Kaddouri should also return. Ciro Immobile recovered from illness to play twenty minutes against Hellas on Wednesday, and he should therefore be fit enough to face his former side.

Having scored five goals in as many games this season, Alessio Cerci is Torino's obvious danger man and he will be the man the Juventus defence will have to watch out for. That Juve defence may include former Torino defender Angelo Ogbonna who has featured in their last two games since signing for the club in the summer.

With Juventus facing a Champions League game against Galatasaray on Wednesday there is speculation that Andrea Pirlo may be rested, and if the Bianconeri do have one eye on this fixture, it may give Torino an opportunity to capitalise and clinch a memorable victory.

Forza Torino

Friday, 27 September 2013

Torino 2-2 Hellas Verona

Torino maintained their unbeaten home record as an Alessio Cerci brace earnt them a draw against Hellas Verona.

With the derby against Juventus coming up on Sunday, Giampiero Ventura made four changes to the side the beat Bologna, as Guillermo Rodriguez, Nicola Bellomo, Alexander Farnerud and Migjen Basha came into the eleven.

It was Nicola Bellomo, making his Serie A debut, who had Torino's first opportunity when his long range effort forced Hellas keeper Rafael. An action less first half was then brought to life ten minutes before the break, as Hellas midfielder Romulo needlessly handled Alessio Cerci's corner to give Torino a penalty.

The former Roma winger stepped up himself to score his third goal in as many games, and that looked as though it would be enough to give Toro a half time lead. However, on the stroke of half time, Hellas equalised when an acrobatic assist from Luca Toni allowed Juanito Gomez to convert from close range.

However, Toro did not have long to wait to retake the lead, as just after the restart Rafael failed to deal with a weak shot from Riccardo Meggiorini and Alessio Cerci was on hand to continue his fine goalscoring form.

And moments later Torino had an opportunity to put the result beyond doubt, but Rafael redeemed himself by tipping Meggiorini's long range effort onto the post. Toro were made to pay for not extending their lead as they then conceded a penalty of their own, when Guillermo Rodriguez pulled former Juventus striker Toni to the ground, and Brazilian midfielder Jorginho scored from the spot.

Both teams seemed to be content with a point, although Torino had valid shouts for a penalty in the dying seconds when Danilo D'Ambrosio was brought down, but the referee waved the claims away. After taking the lead twice, the Granata will be disappointed that they were unable to hold on to the victory. However, they have still made a fine start to the season, and with Alessio Cerci in excellent form, Sunday's derby with Juventus could prove to be more competitive than it has been in recent seasons.

Forza Toro!

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Maratona and Elsewhere #14 : 'Adding insult to injury'

Torino 2-2 AC Milan - 14.09.13

As John Lydon said to the audience as he closed the final Sid Vicious-era Sex Pistols concert at San Francisco's Winterland in January 1978: "Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?"

Ignore songs about Berlusconi going to prison. Ignore fighting in the Maratona. Ignore excellent goals from Danilo D’Ambrosio and Alessio Cerci. Ignore being 2-0 up against the mighty Milan with 87 minutes on the clock and deservedly so. Ignore Milan’s first goal, for which there was some doubt about offside. Ignore Milan’s Nigel De Jong splitting Marcelo Larrondo’s lip with his elbow, and Mario Balotelli aiming first a kick and then a slap at our goalkeeper Daniele Padelli – well, the officials did, so why can’t we? Are we sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin.

We’re playing added time at the end of the game. Toro are winning 2-1. Marcelo Larrondo is sitting on the turf with an injury which turns out to be a broken 5th metatarsal which requires surgery. He is shouting to all and sundry that he has a broken foot and requires medical attention. Milan’s goalkeeper Christian Abbiati engages in conversation with Larrondo, but chooses for whatever reason not to alert the referee or the medical staff. No Good Samaritan, he. The Torino bench have asked for play to be interrupted to allow treatment to and substitution of the injured player. The 32-year-old referee Davide Massa - a banker (sic) by profession - allows play to continue. Why, exactly? Because he thinks that Larrondo is pretending that he has a broken foot? Because he doesn’t know what he is doing, as evidenced by his subsequent 3-match suspension from refereeing in Serie A? Because he has been told that Milan aren’t allowed to lose?

The ball remains in play and in Milan’s possession. That is, until the ball goes out for a Milan throw.
At this point, regardless of the referee’s competence or lack of, one of the unwritten rules between professional football players is that the team in possession of the ball stops play to allow their injured opponent / fellow professional to receive medical attention.

Instead of allowing fair play to rear its ugly head, Milan allenatore Massimiliano Allegri – who had the sheer chutzpah to say in a post-match interview that we were “a little unfortunate” not to win – orders Philippe Mexès to take the throw-in before we can substitute Larrondo, and the resultant play leads to Giovanni Pasquale upending Andrea Poli for the penalty that gives Milan an undeserved draw with the last kick of the game.

Compare and contrast this scenario with an excerpt from Massimo Fini’s excellent article, “La slealta del Milan è un riflesso del mondo morale di Berlusconi” (“Milan’s unfairness is a reflection of Berlusconi’s moral world”), which can be found in its entirety without my inexact translation at

(Cue wavy lines)

It’s January 21st, 1990. Atalanta versus Milan in the quarter-finals of the Coppa Italia. Milan are losing 1-0 in the 88th minute. Their attacker Stefano Borgonovo is laying - apparently injured - in Atalanta’s penalty area. Atalanta’s Glenn Strömberg puts the ball out of play to allow Milan to treat their injured player. However, the sporting Frank Rijkaard (he of spitting-in-Rudi-Völler’s-hair fame, lest we forget), instead of returning possession, throws the ball to his team-mate Daniele Massaro, who crosses the ball back into the penalty area, where the now miraculously healthy Borgonovo hits the deck and the referee points to the spot. Arrigo Sacchi orders Franco Baresi to not do the decent thing – to miss the unjust penalty - and Milan draw the game and progress to the semis.

Fini’s article goes on to criticise the cynical “money-and-power-are-everything” nature of Silvio Berlusconi and how the club he bought in 1986 manifests his personality on the field of play. An inability to lose with dignity. I would add that said infantile world view (Exhibit 94:  his current threats to withdraw his PDL party from the coalition and bring down the government should he be sent to prison by those nasty “communist” judges), vast wealth and – shall we say – some interesting connections allow for petulance and intimidation both on and off the pitch... well, the Maratona didn’t sing “voi siete come la Juve!” just for the sake of something to do on a Saturday evening.

I have seen the broadcaster Mediaset – like AC Milan, a subsidiary of Berlusconi’s Fininvest - rechristened “Mafiaset” on at least one occasion, possibly due to his membership of the P2 Masonic Lodge and his historic connections to the fragrant (or should that be flagrant) Bettino Craxi, who allowed him to create his national commercial television network when RAI was the only national broadcaster permitted by law. Even his hair is dubious. And as for the tax evasion and underage girls... But, again, this is not supposed to be a political blog, so if this sort of thing is grist to your personal mill please feel free to investigate elsewhere.
So, the general consensus of opinion is that we were shafted on the pitch: only internet trolls such as menomalexsilvio on The Guardian website have suggested otherwise, to my knowledge. Off the pitch? I need to retain some bile for the derby, so I’ll merely provide a list:

Torino FC was fined €4000 for a flare being thrown on the pitch, which didn’t happen. A flare was thrown from the Maratona in the second half, but it landed about five metres behind the goal we were defending.
Kamil Glik was fined €1500 as captain of the “offending” team.
Sporting Director Gianluca Petrachi was fined €3000 for being overheard in the dressing room after the game - by an employee of the Procura Federale – criticising the officials and using a blasphemous expression.
General Secretary Pantaleo Longo was temporarily suspended from the Italian football federation for insulting the fourth official for not allowing us to substitute Larrondo.
Milan’s Philippe Mexès slapped our Head of Ticketing, Fabio Bernardi, and was photographed so doing by Nicolò Campo (see No sanction, to my knowledge.

After the final whistle, the Maratona chanted “Venite sotto la Curva!”, but most of our players had left the pitch by that point, clearly angry and sickened. Il Capitano Glik and a few others applauded in thanks and acknowledgement, but were obviously – like us – not really in any mood to be consoled. I myself took a detour for a numbing drink and got home at two in the morning, still shaking my head. But it wasn’t exactly a mood of disbelief; we’ve been here many times before. As Toro fans we’ve had (too) much experience of the rough end of the footballing pineapple. These injustices permeate the collective memory and one becomes able almost to predict what will happen next, with a turn of the stomach and a tiny voice saying “here we go again”.

Lessons to be learned? Kakà and Robinho left much to be desired. That’ll teach them to be in my fantasy team. Will use the same technique for the derby. ;-)


Steve is a season ticket holder who moved to Torino in 2009 after meeting a Torinese lady called Raffaella on Facebook - you can follow Steve on Twitter here.

Torino V Hellas Verona Preview

Torino are back in action once again on Wednesday evening as they face newly promoted Hellas Verona at the Stadio Olimpico.

Guillermo Rodriguez is available selection once again after missing the last two matches, and Ciro Immobile is included in the squad but may still miss out on the match due to illness. With the derby coming up on Sunday, those players who may not be able to play three matches in a week - primarily Giuseppe Vives and Matteo Brighi could also be rested.

Hellas have made a promising start in their return to Serie A, and have won two of their four fixtures so far. However, despite this bright start they have lost both of their away games - although they were against Roma and Juventus.

The last time these two sides met was in March 2012 and the Granata were embarrassed with a 4-1 home defeat, and will therefore be looking to gain some revenge.

Torino 1-1 Hellas Verona

Bologna 1-2 Torino

Torino continued their fine start to the season as they won in Bologna for the first time in 33 years thanks once again to goals from Danilo D'Ambrosio and Alessio Cerci.

The Granata made the one enforced change as Ciro Immobile was unwell, so he was replaced in the starting eleven by Riccardo Meggiorini. Toro made an ideal start and were ahead within two minutes, as home goalkeeper Gianluca Curci was only able to punch Matteo Darmian's cross into the path of Danilo D'Ambrosio who headed into an empty net.

Alessio Cerci almost doubled Toro's lead from long range, but he was denied by Curci who made amends for his earlier error by turning his shot round the post.

On the half hour mark, Bologna equalised thanks to a former Torino player, but it was not the one you may have expected - Rolando Bianchi, who most of the pre-match attention was focused upon. Once again Toro failed to deal with a set piece, and Cesare Natali's initial header was saved by Daniele Padelli, but the rebound fell to the big defender who was literally able to walk the ball over the line.

Bologna almost took the lead moments later, when defender György Garics's long range shot rebounded off the crossbar. Just before the break, Torino also hit the woodwork as Alessio Cerci's free kick from 40 yards out also hit the crossbar.

However, in the aftermath of that incident Omar El Kaddouri was fouled by Francesco Della Rocca in the away and Toro were awarded a penalty. Cerci stepped up to take the penalty himself, and although Curci got a hand to hit, the ball still found the back of the net.

A strange incident occurred at the beginning of the second half, as it transpired that Bologna's goalscorer Cesare Natali was sent off for dissent towards the referee at the interval. Despite having an extra man advantage, Toro failed to extend their lead in the second half - although Omar El Kaddouri twice came close to scoring his first goal for the club.

Torino held on to record their second victory of the season, ahead of a big week for the club that will culminate in the Turin derby next Sunday.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Bologna V Torino Preview

After conceding a heartbreaking last minute equaliser against AC Milan last weekend, Torino will come up against a familiar face in Sunday's match at Bologna.

Rolando Bianchi scored 77 goals in 180 appearances during his five years at the club, but left in the summer after his contract expired to join the Rossoblu. The former Toro captain has yet to score for his new club, and Toro fans will be hoping that he doesn't open his account for Bologna on Sunday.

The Granata are expected to stick with the same side that came so close to beating Milan last weekend, as Guillermo Rodriguez has not yet recovered from injury so Cesare Bovo will continue to play in the middle of the back three.

Marcelo Larrondo will also miss out after being injured in the draw at Milan, so Toro's striking options look a little bit lightweight with only Alessio Cerci, Ciro Immobile and Riccardo Meggiorini to choose from.

Bologna 1-1 Torino

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Torino 2-2 AC Milan

Torino were seconds away from securing their first Serie A victory over Milan in over a decade but conceded a controversial last minute equaliser from the penalty spot.

As expected, Alessio Cerci returned to the starting eleven whilst Cesare Bovo replaced the injured Guillermo Rodriguez in defence. For AC Milan, Kaka started to behind a front two of Mario Balotelli and Robinho in his first appearance in Italian football for four years.

The Granata made the brighter start, with Giuseppe Vives and Alessio Cerci both going close from long range. Cristian Zapata went closest for Milan just before the break, but his header from a free kick went narrowly wide.

Two minutes after half time, the home side took a deserved lead when Cerci's pass found D'Ambrosio and the wing back cut inside on his favoured right foot to fire a shot past Christian Abbiati. And with twenty minutes remaining, an exquisite through ball from Ciro Immobile found the outstanding Cerci and the Italy international kept calm to double Torino's lead.

And when Daniele Padelli miraculously denied Mario Balotelli from close range, it looked as though Toro were on course for a memorable victory. But with three minutes remaining, Milan got a goal back in bizarre circumstances as Padelli's punch fell to Sulley Muntari and the Ghanaian's scuffed shot found the bottom corner. However, Toro felt that this goal should have been disallowed due to Balotelli being offside in the build up, despite not obviously interfering with play.

Then in injury time, substitute Giovanni Pasquale fouled Andrea Poli in the penalty area to give Milan the chance to rescue a point - and Mario Balotelli continued his excellent record from the spot to deny Toro a famous victory. However, Torino also had complaints regarding the equaliser as in the build up to the penalty incident, they were not allowed to substitute the injured Marcelo Larrondo despite the ball going out of play.

This will feel like a defeat for Torino, but it is important to remember how well they played for 88 minutes, and the fact that it took two controversial decisions to deny them a famous victory. The performance of Alessio Cerci was an obvious high point, but once again the midfield trio of Giuseppe Vives, Matteo Brighi and Omar El Kaddouri also impressed.

Forza Toro

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Torino V AC Milan Preview

Torino will be looking to end their miserable run against AC Milan when they face the Rossoneri on Saturday evening at the Stadio Olimpico.

The Granata have not beaten Milan in over a decade, and Toro lost both games against last season including a 4-2 home defeat last December.

Guillermo Rodriguez has been struggling with injury, so Cesare Bovo could deputise - whilst Alessio Cerci should return to the starting eleven after only being on the bench for the defeat at Atalanta.

The returning Kaka is expected to start for AC Milan, whilst former Juventus striker Alessando Matri could also be included alongside Mario Balotelli.

Torino 1-2 AC Milan

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Atalanta 2-0 Torino

Torino fell to their first defeat of the season as they lost 2-0 at Atalanta on Sunday evening, despite the Granata hitting the woodwork on two occasions.

Toro made three changes to the side that beat Sassuolo last weekend, with Migjen Basha, Omar El Kaddouri and Marcelo Larrondo all coming into the eleven. The omission of Alessio Cerci from the starting line up was certainly a surprise, but the Italy international was apparently struggling with an injury.

The home side started brightly, as firstly Giacomo Bonaventura and then German Denis went close for Atalanta, with the latter forcing a good save from Daniele Padelli. At the other end, Omar El Kaddouri almost scored a memorable goal on the counter attack after running from his own half, but he was denied by Andrea Consigli.

From the resulting corner, Torino went even closer as Matteo Darmian stabbed the ball onto the crossbar. And it took a miraculous save from Consigli to deny Toro's other wing back, as Danilo D'Ambrosio almost headed Torino into the lead from close range.

At the start of the second half, an inch-perfect pass from D'Ambrosio put Larrondo through on goal, but the Argentine striker could only hit the side netting with his shot. Moments later, the former Siena man had another excellent chance to give Torino the lead from the edge of the area, but on this occasion he ballooned the ball over the bar.

With Toro missing so many clear cut chances, the inevitable happened after 57 minutes when Toro failed to deal with a free kick and the ball fell kindly to Guglielmo Stendardo who struck it past Padelli to give the home side the lead. However, there were question marks regarding whether the goal should have stood as fellow defender Mario Yepes was clearly standing in an offside position which left Padelli unsighted.

Giampiero Ventura acted immediately as he took captain Kamil Glik off and brought on Alessio Cerci as the team switched to a 4-3-3 formation. Moments after that switch, Toro came narrowly close to an equaliser as  Omar El Kaddouri struck an excellent free kick but it rebounded off the crossbar.

But Toro's inability to defend set pieces was their downfall once again, as Atalanta doubled their lead ten minutes from time when an unmarked Stefano Lucchini powered a header past Padelli.

This was a difficult loss for Toro to take considering they were the better team for much of the contest, but they learnt a valuable lesson regarding the importance of defending set pieces properly. However, there were a number of positives also - the performance of Omar El Kaddouri especially - and the fact that they were able to create so many chances, but unfortunately were unable to convert any of them.

Forza Torino

Saturday, 31 August 2013

Atalanta v Torino Preview

Torino will make the short journey to Bergamo looking for back-to-back victories as they face Atalanta on Sunday evening.

After defeating Sassuolo on the opening day, enthusiasm amongst Granata supporters is high, and returning to the location of their most impressive victory in the last campaign - a 5-1 away win - could give them added hope for the season ahead.

New loan signing Giovanni Pasquale, a defender from Udinese, has been included in the squad although Matteo Brighi misses out and should be replaced in the Toro starting eleven by former Atalanta man Migjen Basha. Alexander Farnerud struggled in his league debut last weekend, and it would not be a surprise to see the former Swedish international replaced by Omar El Kaddouri.

The home side began the season with a disappointing 2-1 defeat against Cagliari, and will also be looking to gain revenge as Toro took six points from them last season. Talented striker German Denis will be leading the line for Atalanta, whilst Giacomo Bonaventura is also a player to look out for.

Match Prediction
Atalanta 1-1 Torino

Friday, 30 August 2013

Maratona & Elsewhere #13 : Toro v Sassuolo: “The one in which we’re very rude about Enzo Maresca’s mother”

Torino 2-0 Sassuolo - 25.08.13


Last week against Pescara didn’t really feel like the real thing, to be honest. More a holiday atmosphere than anything else. The Piemontese equivalent of a “Kiss Me Quick” hat and a stick of rock wouldn’t have been out of place. Much catching up with friends not seen since May, comparing suntans (not me, obviously, being a Barbarian), it felt like an aperitivo, as if we were all just dropping in to say “ciao” en route to another engagement.

But this was the real thing.

In M&E#12 I touched upon the possibility of Enzo Maresca joining the club and the reaction said possibility provoked. Some behavioural psychologists speak of the concept of reinforcement, whereby certain behaviours can be strengthened or increased via reward or punishment. I vaguely recall studying this in Manchester in the late ‘80s in moments of relative sobriety.

We entered the stadium as normal, bought beers as normal. Then the singing started: 

La mamma di Maresca è una puttana! 
Bastardo non ti vogliamo! 
Enzo Maresca gobbo di merda! 
Maresca tu sei un figlio di puttana! 

I would like to think that the many thousand fully-qualified Granata behavioural psychologists present were merely indulging in some form or another of reinforcement therapy for the benefit of Cairo, Ventura and Petrachi, something along the lines of “don’t you fucking dare try anything like that again.”

[The aforementioned songs and their many variations feature regularly in the Maratona songbook, along with many other popular favourites. In the coming weeks and months I shall endeavour to devise a drinking game called “Maratona Binge-O!”, the purpose of which will be to consume a certain quantity of a particular beverage upon hearing a given song or chant from the Curva. As there are obvious dangers and practical difficulties inherent in attempting a drinking game inside the stadium, this will be a TV-based game for armchair Ultras everywhere, season ticket holders who are unable or unwilling to attend away games, and for anyone who for whatever reason needs a drink when watching Toro. I know how you feel.]

The recently-but-not-dearly departed Angelo Ogbonna also received a “gobbo di merda!” for good measure. It would have been rude to leave him out, after all, and - as my late grandmother used to say -honey catches more flies than vinegar (which puts honey in second place, behind bullshit). I wish him well and hope he enjoys his next few months on the bench at Venaria Town before going to Sampdoria on loan in January in order to get a game before the World Cup comes around.

And so to the announcement of the teams. No prizes for guessing whose names were greeted with the least enthusiasm: Vives and the Meggiorini.

The Ultras still seem to be in pre-season. Perhaps the guys who can find their own arse with both hands are still at the beach? Any way you slice it, the banners (which were made from somebody’s mother’s floral wallpaper and single-sided, so those standing behind couldn’t read them) and general orchestration left something to be desired. The rendition of “Forza! Vecchio! Cuore! Granata!” was the weakest I have heard since my debut against Modena in November 2010.

I will also retain the right to get a little bit pissed off whenever they become so self-absorbed that the game (and others’ enjoyment thereof) takes second place to their collective ego. The €230 I paid for my season ticket was to watch the team play, thankyouverymuchrantover.

Continuing in contrary mood, many people in the Maratona – those in my immediate vicinity and myself included - disagreed with Rob and Peter and with 52% of ToroNews voters in their selection of Vives as Man of the Match. In the Maratona we don’t have the benefit of commentary, action replays and multiple camera angles, but we do have the advantage of being there.

My received wisdom (Maratona level 2, section 213) was that Cerci had a good game and was M.o.M., despite playing out of position for much of the game as a second striker. No surprise that his goal – an almost carbon copy of the beauty he scored at Fiorentina last season – came from the right wing. Honourable mentions also for Matteo Brighi for his goal and all-round first half performance (I hope his injury - an adductor strain, I believe - is a temporary inconvenience), for Migjen Basha who came on in his stead second half, El Pelado Rodriguez and Padelli in goal (who made only nine tackles fewer than Vives, according to!).

As an aside, four days later 67% of ToroNews readers who responded said they would replace Vives with Bellomo for the Atalanta game! Shall we add “fickle” to “superstitious”, and/or get bogged down with statistics instead? Nah. Let’s not.

I think Ciro Immobile can be happy enough with his performance, if not with the cretinous short corner routine on 80 minutes that led to him receiving a yellow card on the halfway line for what could be considered a professional foul. We had three guys waiting at the far post, for fuck’s sake. The exact same kind of moronic set-piece – I’m assuming we don’t practice set-pieces in training – that all too often last season led to the ball arriving in our penalty area for Gillet to deal with.

I also have to disagree with ToroNews regarding Orsato, the referee. He seemed keen to wave play on when there was no discernible advantage to be had, and there was one comedy moment where he ran 30 metres to bark at Ventura, having just given us a free kick. Ah well, it could have been worse, I suppose; we could have had Bergonzi (who refereed the most recent derby after his short break in Dubai with Beppe Marotta, and the pleasure of whose company we’ll have again in Bergamo next Sunday), or Rocchi, Tagliavento, Peruzzo, Banti or any of the other clowns. Orsato getting a favourable review for being merely average shows you the standard of officiating we have in Italy.

So, for Pescara 3-0 in 2012, read Sassuolo 2-0 in 2013. We saluted our first win and first Fisherman’s Friends of the season with “Tutta la notte, coca e mignotte!”(“All night, cocaine and whores!”) and invited the players to join us under the Curva, which they duly did – cf. the Pescara game.

And what of the new-fangled 3-5-2 formation? I’m not a fan, on the evidence of this match. Kamil Glik doesn’t look comfy on the right of a back three, Darmian and D’Ambrosio aren’t wingers, and Cerci doesn’t play with his back to goal. I’m hoping for a counter-attacking 4-4-2 and Farnerud playing left right out for the Atalanta game, which is yet another 2045 kick-off on a Sunday night. Don’t Lega Serie A realise that some people have to get up for work on a Monday morning?! It’s not exactly conducive to attracting away fans to add to the atmosphere and/or televisual spectacle, either.

FORZA! to our travelling tifosi.

Tune in next time for M&E#14: “Toro 0 - 2 Milan”


P.S.: Whisper it - fourth place in the classifica! Officially we’re 4th, because (get this) in the event of two or more teams having identical records the tie is broken according to last season’s final league position (shakes head). We’d be 4th alphabetically, too, BUT WE’RE FOUR PLACES ABOVE THE GOBBI.

P.P.S.: Final word on superstitions. Mine is wearing a silver earring in the shape of the Warner Brothers Tasmanian devil –yes, I know I should know better at my age, but I didn’t wear it against Pescara while I did against Sassuolo. And which game did we win? ;-)

Steve is a season ticket holder who moved to Torino in 2009 after meeting a Torinese lady called Raffaella on Facebook - you can follow Steve on Twitter here.