Monday, 23 March 2015

Parma 0-2 Torino

Torino ended their run of back to back league defeats with a hard fought 2-0 victory against Parma on Sunday evening.

Despite, Thursday's tough Europa League clash there were not too many changes to the Toro starting eleven, although Cesare Bovo, Marco Benassi and Bruno Peres all came into the side.

Parma had the first chance of the match, and it fell to former Toro loanee Antonio Nocerino, but the midfielder blazed the ball over the bar.

Toro took the lead after twenty minutes when Maxi Lopez scored only his second league goal for the club after beating Alessandro Lucarelli to the ball before finishing from a tight angle.

Ishak Belfodil almost equalised immediately for the home side, but the Algerian headed over the bar from close range. The night then got even worse for Parma captain Lucarelli who was dismissed ten minutes before half time for dissent, after reacting badly to being booked for an elbow on Fabio Quagliarella.

Belfodil continued to be the home side's biggest threat, and they came so close to scoring an unlikely equaliser, but the former Inter man hit the post. Toro finally made their numerical advantage tell with fifteen minutes remaining when substitute Migjen Basha headed home Cristian Molinaro's excellent cross.

Fabio Quagliarella almost made the scoreline more flattering, but Toro's top scorer saw his effort tipped round the post by Alessandro Iacobucci.

Forza Toro!

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Parma v Torino Preview

Torino will aim to rebound from their European disappointment when they visit crisis club Parma on Sunday evening,

Giampiero Ventura may choose to rest a number of the team who played, and came so close, to forcing the tie against Zenit into extra time. That may mean a first start for Alvaro Gonzalez, whilst Bruno Peres should almost certainly come back into the team.

Parma were officially declared bankrupt on Thursday, and with relegation a certainly, the only question left to be answered is whether they will start next season in Serie B, or start over again from Serie D.

Antonio Nocerino, who began the season on loan at Torino, could start for the home side who have not won since January.

Parma 0-2 Torino

Friday, 20 March 2015

Torino 1-0 Zenit (Zenit win 2-1 on Aggregate)

Torino's European adventure came to an end on Thursday night, as despite beating the Russian league leaders on the night, they couldn't overturn the first leg deficit.

Giampiero Ventura selected his strongest possible side, with Alexander Farnerud replacing the suspended Marco Benassi and Maxi Lopez was preferred to Josef Martinez up front.

Despite a nervy start, Toro began to settle and created a number of half chances in the first half, the
best of which was Fabio Quagliarella's deflected free kick which went narrowly wide of the post.

Toro almost made the perfect start to the second half, but Kamil Glik's exquisite diving header was harshly ruled out for offside. With Toro needing to score twice to force extra time, Josef Martinez joined Maxi Lopez and Quagliarella upfront with fifteen minutes remaining.

And the Venezuelan striker almost made an instant impact, but his header was saved by Yuri Lodygin, who also saved Alessandro Gazzi's rebound.

In the 90th minute Toro received a glimmer of hope, and it was their captain Kamil Glik who provided it as the Polish international headed home Cesare Bovo's corner. In injury time, Toro almost succeeded in forcing extra time, but Fabio Quagliarella's volley was cleared off the line.

Zenit managed to hold on to make it through to the quarter finals, but this was a Torino performance to be proud of. The Granata gave it absolutely everything they had, and a sold out Stadio Olimpico showed their appreciation of their efforts at the final whistle.

I'm sure even the most optimistic of Toro fans could not have imagined the way this European adventure has gone, and those magical nights in Copenhagen and Bilbao will live long in the memory.

I think I speak for every Granata supporter when I say, Grazie Ragazzi, Grazie Ventura.

Forza Toro

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Torino v Zenit St Petersburg Preview

Torino will need to overcome a 2-0 first leg deficit in order to prolong their European adventure when they face Zenit St Petersburg on Thursday evening.

Marco Benassi's first half red card made things difficult for the Granata in Russia, so he misses out due to suspension, whilst Giuseppe Vives is out injured. Giampiero Ventura will once again have to choose between Josef Martinez and Maxi Lopez to partner Fabio Quagliarella up front.

The bookmakers certainly believe it may be against Toro to progress to the quarter finals, with the Italian side 7-1 underdogs to make it through. However, the Granata have already upset the odds by eliminating Athletic Bilbao in the previous round, and it would be foolish to bet against them again.

Forza Toro!

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Torino 0-2 Lazio

Torino prepared for Thursday's crucial Europa League tie against Zenit with a 2-0 home defeat against Champions League chasing Lazio on Monday evening.

Giampiero Ventura's team selection suggested that his attention was already on Thursday's game, as fringe players Pontus Jansson, Gaston Silva, Migjen Basha and Amauri came into the starting eleven.

Marco Parolo had Lazio's best chance of the first half, but his near post shot was tipped over the bar by Daniele Padelli. At the other end, Amauri's header forced a great save from former Toro man Federico Marchetti, whilst Josef Martinez put the rebound wide of the post.

Substitute Keita Baldé somehow missed a one on one opportunity when well placed, and it looked as though Toro may hold on for a point. However, with twenty minutes remaining Felipe Anderson scored a wonderful solo effort that begun on the centre circle, before finishing calmly past Padelli.

Toro's best chance for an equaliser came from Matteo Darmian, but the Italy international's long range shot was tipped round the post by Marchetti.

The result was put beyond any doubt with twelve minutes remaining, and once again it was Felipe Anderson, but this time the Brazilian needed the help of a deflection to get the ball into the net.

With this game sandwiched between the two Europa League ties against Zenit, it did seem as if Toro's attention was elsewhere, and if the Granata do manage to eliminate the Russian side, then this game and performance will be quickly forgotten.

Forza Toro!

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Torino v Lazio Preview

Torino will look to rebound from Europa League disappointment when they face in form Lazio on Monday evening.

Toro include former Lazio man Alvaro Gonzalez in the squad for tomorrow's match, but Cristian Molinaro and Alessandro Gazzi miss out through injury. With Thursday's crucial Europa League tie in mind, Giampiero Ventura may choose to rest a number of key players.

Lazio have already beaten the Granata at the Olimpico this season (3-1 in the Coppa Italia) and travel to Turin in excellent form, having won their last four fixtures.

Torino 1-1 Lazio

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Zenit St Petersburg 2-0 Torino

Torino will have to produce a sensational performance to reach the Europa League quarter finals after suffering a 2-0 defeat against Zenit on Thursday evening.

As expected, Giampiero Ventura brought Nikola Maksimovic, Matteo Darmian and Marco Benassi into the starting eleven, whilst Josef Martinez's pace was preferred to Maxi Lopez's physicality.

Whilst Venezuelan striker Salomon Rondon had an early shot saved by Daniele Padelli in the opening stages, Toro had managed to cope with what their hosts had to offer for the first twenty five minutes.

However, the turning point of this match occurred in the 27th minute when Marco Benassi received a second yellow for a foul on Axel Witsel, and the Granata were reduced to ten men.

And things got even worse for Toro ten minutes later when Padelli could only parry Igor Smolnikov shot, and Belgian international Axel Witsel capitalised on Kamil Glik's slip to fire home.

Zenit doubled their lead seven minutes into the second half, when Hulk's initial shot hit the post, but fell into the path of Domenico Criscito to side foot in.

The home side failed to extend their lead, which may have put the tie beyond any doubt, and in the closing stages, Alexander Farnerud almost scored a crucial away goal for Toro, but pulled his shot wide of the far post.

This was a disappointing defeat for Toro, especially considering they looked equal to their hosts until Marco Benassi unnecessary dismissal. The Granata are still in with a slight chance to progress to the next round, but it will provide a performance even better than that famous night in Bilbao.

Forza Toro

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Zenit St Petersburg v Torino Preview

Torino will make the near 1761 mile journey to Saint Petersburg in search of a positive result in their first leg of the Europa League last 16 clash with Zenit.

Toro have no injury concerns ahead of the trip to Russia, and Maxi Lopez, who scored three times against Athletic Bilbao should get the opportunity to add to his goal haul in this competition. Matteo Darmian and Omar El Kaddouri, who were both rested against Udinese on Sunday, should also start.

Zenit are the current leaders of the Russian Premier League, having only lost two matches all season in the league. Their home record is also a formidable one, with André Villas Boas' side being unbeaten in their last twelve Europa League games in Russia.

Zenit 2-1 Torino

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Udinese 3-2 Torino

It was a case of unlucky number thirteen for Torino, as after not suffering defeat in their last twelve Serie A fixtures, the Granata fell to a 3-2 to Udinese on Sunday afternoon.

With Thursday's Europa League tie with Zenit St Petersburg in mind, Giampiero Ventura chose to leave Matteo Darmian, Marco Benassi and Omar El Kaddouri on the bench.

Toro made an excellent start, and were ahead after just a quarter of an hour when Alexander Farnerud's inch-perfect cross found former Udinese man Fabio Quagliarella who headed home.

However, the lead was a short lived one, as just two minutes later Antonio Di Natale's shot on the turn found the bottom corner. Daniele Padelli then produced a miraculous save to deny French defender Molla Wagué. But from the resulting corner, Di Natale's corner was flicked in by Panagiotis Kone to give Udinese the lead.

Maxi Lopez twice had opportunities to bring Toro level, whilst Fabio Quagliarella was inches away from adding another wonder goal to his highlight reel, but his volley from an acute angle hit the post.

Less than five minutes into the second half, some uncharacteristically poor defending from a set piece allowed Wagué a free header, and on this occasion the Frenchman made no mistake to extend the home side's lead.

The Granata reduced the deficit with twenty minutes remaining thanks to substitute Marco Benassi's deflected effort from the edge of the area. Toro dominated the latter stages of the game, but were unable to find an equaliser, despite Amauri and Cristian Molinaro going close.

This was Toro's first defeat in the league since losing the derby in heartbreaking fashion back in November, and they will have to bounce back quickly ahead of their Europa League tie with Zenit on Thursday.

Forza Toro

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Udinese v Torino Preview

Torino will aim to make it thirteen games without defeat when they face Udinese on Sunday afternoon.

Giampiero Ventura may opt for an unchanged starting eleven from the side that beat Napoli a week ago, but with a trip to St Petersburg on the horizon, the veteran tactician may opt to rest a few members of the squad.

Udinese are in poor form having lost their last three matches, but did earn a creditable 0-0 draw against Juventus at the Friuli at the start of February.

The Granata won this fixture 2-0 last season, thanks to goals from  Alexander Farnerud and Ciro Immobile.

Udinese 1-2 Torino

Monday, 2 March 2015

Torino 1-0 Napoli

Torino's extraordinary week continued as they extended their unbeaten run to twelve Serie A matches with a narrow 1-0 victory against Napoli on Sunday evening.

As expected, Bruno Peres returned to the starting eleven for Toro - with the Brazilian wing back being ineligible for the Europa League, whilst fellow South American Josef Martinez was chosen to partner Fabio Quagliarella up front.

It was Peres and Martinez who combined in the early stages for the Granata's first chance of the match, but the former's low cross was somehow blazed over the bar by the Venezuelan forward.

Omar El Kaddouri, who impressed in both legs against Athletic Bilbao, had Toro's next chance, but the Moroccan should have done better with his half volley from the edge of the area.

Napoli were restricted to long range efforts in the first half, but Marek Hamsik almost opened the scoring in sensational fashion with a volley from distance that flew narrowly past the post.

The away side were beginning to control the game, and Daniele Padelli had to fist away Gonzalo Higuain's shot from just outside the area. However with around twenty minutes remaining, defender Kalidou Koulibaly needlessly gave away a corner and Toro capitalised.

Alexander Farnerud's corner found the unmarked Kamil Glik, and the captain headed home his sixth goal of the season so far.

Napoli had two great chances to rescue a point, but Gonzalo Higuain blazed his shot over the bar, whilst substitute Manolo Gabbiadini was unlucky to see his free kick rebound off the post. Cesare Bovo almost doubled Toro's lead with a free kick of his own, but he was denied by Mariano Andujar's quick reactions.

This result means that if the season had started on January 1st, Toro would be top of the league - and have yet to taste defeat in the league in 2015.

Forza Toro!