Saturday, 19 March 2016
Torino v Juventus Preview
Torino go into Sunday's game in horrendous form, having won only two of their last fifteen matches, with those victories coming against relegation threatened Frosinone and Palermo.
Toro's terrible form was perhaps best encapsulated in their last game, as the Granata threw away a 2-0 lead at Genoa and ended up losing 3-2 to an average Grifoni side.
However, in recent times (withstanding the 4-0 defeat in the Coppa Italia) Torino have produced impressive performances in the derby. Toro arguably deserved to win in the reverse fixture in October, before being cruelly defeated in injury time, and last season they finally ended their twenty year hoodoo against the Bianconeri with a 2-1 victory.
With fan support of coach Giampiero Ventura at an all time low, the veteran tactician penned an open letter to Toro fans this week in which he urged them to stay behind their team.
Ventura has an almost full strength team to choose from, with the only selection dilemmas coming at left wing back and central midfield.
Cristian Molinaro has conceded two penalties in his last two games, and was sent off against Juventus in the Coppa Italia and his selection would almost certainly bring a negative reaction from the supporters, without a ball even being kicked. Therefore, Davide Zappacosta could come into the team, and this would mean Bruno Peres moving to left wing back.
The other decision for Ventura to make is in midfield, Giuseppe Vives' experience and Afriyie Acquah's energy means they should both start so the final place would be between Daniele Baselli and Marco Benassi. Both players have had their moments this season, but with the former in poor form, I'd expect Benassi to be give the nod.
Juventus will certainly have a number of tired bodies in their squad following their extra time defeat to Bayern Munich on Wednesday, but it is difficult to know how their players will react.
Make no mistake about it, Juventus were excellent against the German champions for 70 minutes and will feel they did more than enough to progress before conceding two late goals and then succumbing in extra time.
If Juve play as well as they did on Wednesday then Toro will have to play an almost perfect match to get a result.
Whilst Gigi Buffon has kept ten consecutive clean sheets, and is only minutes away from breaking the Serie A record, the form of Andrea Belotti and Ciro Immobile has been the one positive of Toro's season and both players will be confident heading into this game, despite Buffon's record.
And whilst it may be naive view to take, if Juve suffer a Champions League hangover and fatigue plays a factor, Toro have shown that they can raise their game against their rivals and therefore Toro fans may have some hope of gaining an unlikely victory.
They do say it is the hope that kills you.