Sunday, 17 February 2019

Napoli v Torino Preview

Torino travel to Naples on Sunday evening looking to extend their mini unbeaten run and improve their chances of Europa League qualification.

Nicolas Nkoulou and Simone Zaza have both returned from suspension, whilst Daniele Baselli and Soualiho Meite will be pushing for recalls to the starting eleven.

Napoli have been formidable at home recently, winning their last five games in the league, but did travel to Zurich in midweek for the Europa League, so may feel some fatigue.

Prediction
Napoli 2-1 Torino

Wednesday, 13 February 2019

Torino 1-0 Udinese

It is believed that former New York Yankees pitcher Lefty Gomez first coined the phrase 'I'd rather be lucky than good' and Torino certainly lived up to that mantra on Sunday afternoon as they somehow emerged victorious.

As expected, Koffi Djidji and Iago Falque replaced the suspended Nicolas Nkoulou and Simone Zaza as Toro lined up in a 3-4-3 formation with Alex Berenguer earning a rare start.

Torino should have taken the lead when Sasa Lukic's corner found an unmarked Andrea Belotti, but his header was magnificently tipped over the bar by Juan Musso in the Udinese goal.

However the Granata did not have to wait long to open the scoring, as Cristian Ansaldi's accurate cross found Ola Aina who headed home his first goal for the club.

Udinese's best chance in the first half was from a set piece, but Rodrigo De Paul's long range free kick was easily dealt with by Salvatore Sirigu.

With fifteen minutes remaining, Udinese were awarded a penalty by VAR after Koffi Djidji was adjudged to have fouled Stefano Okaka. However, De Paul was denied from the spot following an outstanding save from Sirigu.

In the final minute of normal time, Udinese thought they had their equaliser as Stefano Okaka fired a low drive past Sirigu, however this time Toro were reprieved by VAR as Kevin Lasagna was adjudged to be in an offside position and interfering with play.

It was proving not to be Udinese's day, as in injury time, they somehow managed to hit both the bar and then the post in the same move as Torino, somehow, survived for three points.

Saturday, 9 February 2019

Torino v Udinese Preview

Torino host Udinese on Sunday afternoon looking to maintain their challenge for Europa League qualification.

Nicolas Nkoulou and Simone Zaza are both suspended, so should be replaced by Koffi Djidji and Iago Falque, whilst Daniele Baselli and Soualiho Meite will also be pushing for recalls.

Udinese had seen an upturn in their fortunes under new coach and former Toro defender Davide Nicola, however, they are win less in their last three Serie A matches. Perhaps more worryingly for the away side, the Zebrette's last away game was a 4-0 defeat against Sampdoria two weeks ago.

Prediction
Torino 2-1 Udinese

Thursday, 7 February 2019

SPAL 0-0 Torino

Torino once again failed to win consecutive Serie A matches as they could only draw 0-0 with SPAL on Sunday afternoon.

Toro made just one change from the team who beat Inter, as Emiliano Moretti replaced Koffi Djidji in defence.

Andrea Belotti came closest to giving Toro the lead in the first half, but his low drive from long range was tipped round the post by Emiliano Viviano.

At the other end, both Mirco Antenucci and Mohamed Fares had good chances for SPAL but put them over the bar.

In the second half, Armando Izzo almost opened the scoring for the second game in a row, but the defender headed wide of the target.

With twenty five minutes remaining, Torino were reduced to ten men when Nicolas Nkoulou was sent off after receiving a second yellow card.

Mattia Valoti should have given the home side all three points, but once again a player in blue and white missed the target, and 10 man Torino held on for a point.

Forza Toro

Saturday, 2 February 2019

SPAL v Torino Preview

Torino travel to Ferrara on Sunday afternoon looking for consecutive Serie A victories for only the second time this season.

Koffi Djidji may miss out after picking up a knock in training, although Soualiho Me├»te is back in the squad following suspension.

SPAL came back from 2-0 down to beat Parma 3-2 last weekend, their first win since a shock victory at Roma in October. However, they have been difficult to beat at home in recent months, drawing their last five games at the Stadio Paolo Mazza.

Prediction
SPAL 0-1 Torino

Friday, 1 February 2019

Primavera Problems

One can argue that no team in the history of Italian football has a stronger bond between their first team and their Primavera (youth) team than Torino FC.

The main reason for this is, after the Superga disaster of 1949, that resulted in the death of the entire ‘Grande Torino’ team who had won five consecutive Serie A titles, it was the Primavera squad who had to fulfil the Granata’s remaining fixtures.

Despite this inextricable link between the youth team and the first team, in recent years, Torino have not managed to have many youth team products breakthrough and become regular first team players.

One of these reasons is of course the fact that in 2005, Torino were declared bankrupt, and as a result, all players were released from their contracts. These included players who began their careers at Toro, and have gone on to have successful Serie A careers elsewhere -Stefano Sorrentino, Federico Balzaretti and Fabio Quagliarella (who would later return to the club).

If not for bankruptcy, one of these players could have stayed at Torino for their entire careers, and been a bandiera, much like Francesco Totti at Roma.

In the years since bankruptcy, only one player who came through the Torino academy has gone on to make over 100 appearances for the first team - Angelo Ogbonna. Whilst the majority of these appearances came in Serie B, Ogbonna then made the move to cross city rivals Juventus after his first full season in Serie A, much to the dismay of Torino supporters.

In the current first team squad, both Vittorio Parigini and Simone Edera were born in the city, starred for the Primavera and then impressed whilst out on loan. However, neither player has made more than 2 starts in Serie A this season and therefore been unable to force their way into a regular starting birth.

With Torino still fighting for Europa League qualification this season, it would be a surprise to see these statistics change dramatically. However, should Toro fall out of the race for Europe, one would hope that Walter Mazzarri looks to the future when picking his starting eleven for the rest of the season. However, with Simone Edera completing a deadline day loan move to Bologna this now looks a remote possibility, although it is hoped he will finally manage to get regular game time in Serie A.

Torino’s proud history extends to it’s Primavera team, and no team in Italian football has won more League titles (9) or Coppa Italia’s (8) than Toro.

Much is expected of the latest star of the Torino Primavera team, Vincenzo Millico, who has scored an incredible 22 goals in 15 league appearances. The day after being named on the bench for the first team’s 1-0 victory over Inter, Millico captained the Primavera team to a 4-0 win over Palermo.

Vincenzo Millico
After a goalless first half, Millico produced a piece a magic that belied his inexperience by taking a quick free kick and delivering an inch perfect assist to find substitute Luca Petrungaro to open the scoring. Whilst Petrungaro went on to complete his hat trick, it was Millico who was the catalyst for the Granata, and he deservedly got on the score sheet himself in injury time. This impressive victory took Torino to the top of the Campionato Primavera 1 standings.

This past Saturday marked the 100 year anniversary of the birth of Valentino Mazzola, captain of the Grande Torino team. As part of the celebrations, Torino hosted a youth tournament for players in the Pulcini age group (born in 2008). The other teams involved were Venezia, Valentino’s former team, and Inter, who his son Sandro served with such distinction from 1960-1977.

There was however, a familiar name within the Torino squad - Valentino Mazzola, the eleven year old great-grandson of the former Torino captain who was also invited to play in the tournament.

The young Valentino Mazzola, flanked by Toro president Urbano Cairo and record goalscorer Paolo Pulici
Who knows, in 10 years time, Torino supporters may once again be cheering on a Mazzola from the stands.

But lets not put too much pressure on the kid.