Serie A Match of the Round – Torino vs Sassuolo

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There is a lot of filler in these last few rounds as some teams have no real objective in sight, but when one of those put up a fight against a foe actually fighting for something, it can turn out to be a thrilling match-up, like it was the case for Torino-Sassuolo.

The Granata are in the hunt for the sixth place and were coming off a draw in the Derby della Mole, while they had taken home the full loot in the previous two contests against Genoa and Milan. The Neroverdi had stayed undefeated for six rounds, prevailing twice, and are right in the middle of the standings. Continue reading

Serie A Team of the Week – Round 34

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Salvatore Sirigu (7 points): in another round that was lacking in terms of clean sheets, only three, the tentacular Torino goalie once again separate himself from the pack, mainly for a great save on a Tiemoue Bakayoko deep into the Milan game.

Federico Fazio (9 points): he paved the way for Roma’s easy win against Cagliari by leaping into the air to precisely send the ball towards the far post and outside of Alessio Cragno’s reach. He has impressively already scored five times this year.

Aleksandar Kolarov (9 points): after multiple attempts, he was the one to finally bag Roma’s third goal on Saturday, with a persistent foray that he started and finished tracking down the second ball after a teammate was denied. Continue reading

Serie A Team of the Week – Round 33

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Salvatore Sirigu (7 points): in the post-game, his coach Walter Mazzarri called him the #1 goalkeeper in Serie A and he has certainly been pound-by-pound the best performer between the sticks thus far. He further built his case with two tremendous dives on menacing headers by Lukas Lerager and Christian Kouame.

Erick Pulgar (9 points): his lethal right foot created the first two Bologna goals on Saturday on free kicks, as the first one led to Emil Audero’s deflection on Andrea Tonelli’s leg and into the net after rattling the crossbar, while the second one, from near the corner kick spot, had an insane trajectory that surprised the goalie. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Picks – Round 31

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Salvatore Sirigu: even if the Torino’s defense has slipped a little in the past few games, he has pulled off some amazing performances and perhaps, differently from Frosinone, they will be able to take advantage of Parma’s absences up front.

Mario Rui: he showed well even in a losing effort in Empoli. Genoa have had a lot of troubles coming up with goals lately, so the Napoli defenders are certainly intriguing in this round, especially Ghoulam, Rui and Kevin Malcuit who are the most involved offensively.

Fabrizio Cacciatore: SPAL are not great on the road, while Cagliari were very solid at home up until the match with Juventus. He is coming off two assists in a row and Darijo Srna is suspended. Luca Pellegrini is faring well too and he will not have to deal with Manuel Lazzari.  Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Picks – Round 28

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Salvatore Sirigu: his record run of clean sheets came to end in Frosinone, but he could be a good pick again as Torino have not conceded in five straight at home and they will tangle with Bologna, which are not particularly prolific and will be without their leading scorer Federico Santander.

Kalidou Koulibaly: Napoli are tied for the best statistical home defense in the League, while Udinese have the third worst road attack and had not found the target in five consecutive games before the previous in Turin. The Senegalese powerhouse will also get to rest midweek as he is suspended in Europa League. Continue reading

Serie A Team of the Week – Round 26

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Salvatore Sirigu (7 points): he has not conceded in 557 minutes, beating a Torino’s all-time record and did his part on Sunday too with a superb double instinctual save on Filip Djordjevic early in the second half.

Francesco Acerbi (5 points): after blanketing Krzysztof Piatek in Coppa Italia, he had a repeat by smothering Edin Dzeko, who was rendered harmless in the Derby.

Cristian Ansaldi (5 points): either as a wing back or as a central midfielder, he continues to excel and to serve as a mammoth playmaker in his surprising bounce-back season. Continue reading

Serie A Player of the Month – Salvatore Sirigu

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A couple of Serie A strikers were consistently productive in the last month, Krzysztof Piatek and Arkadiusz Milik, but not enough to crack the EuroFantasyLeague Team of the Month. However, it might be cliché, but the Italian league is still very well represented in the most recent edition thanks to a plethora of defenders and Torino’s goalie Salvatore Sirigu, who trailed only to Sergio Aguero in the monthly tally.

Walter Mazzarri has always been known for his defensive style, which sometimes is even a little excessive and takes away from the other side of the ball, but they painted a masterpiece this month with four clean sheets, a total of five straight considering also the final game of January, and there were not many freebies either because they stymied Inter, SPAL, Udinese, Napoli and Atalanta. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Picks – Round 26

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Salvatore Sirigu: Torino have kept five clean sheets in a row, four straight at home, against opponents that are much more equipped than Chievo and the Flying Donkeys have scored in just one of the last four road games.

Danilo D’Ambrosio: Cagliari’s offensive output has been rather pedestrian in the last two months, so picking an Inter defender could be a smart choice even though they are on the road. The right back is also occasionally able to put his name in the scoresheet.

Jens Larsen: Bologna are definitely friskier after the coaching change, but the Udinese wing back has been able to rack up bonus points in four of their last five home fixtures.  Continue reading

Walter Mazzarri Is Back At His Best

Liverpool v Torino - Pre-Season Friendly - AnfieldWhen Walter Mazzarri was appointed as Torino boss last January, I Granata were languishing on the outskirts of the mid-table and were a side without a clear identity. Fast forward a year later and Torino have become one of the toughest teams to break down in the peninsula and are now pushing for a spot in next year’s Europa League. While Atalanta have received all the plaudits for their offensive football, Mazzarri’s 
side are their antithesis, and sit on 38 points alongside Gli Orobici. 

After a failed stint in England that saw his contract terminated at the end of his first season, Mazzarri’s reputation took a hit. Long gone were the memories of his Napoli side  that, along with Marek Hamsik, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Edinson Cavani, pushed the envelope beating the likes of Juventus, Inter, and Chelsea in the process. Instead, unsuccessful tenures with Inter and Watford came to define the Italian tactician. That’s why his move to Torino was so important. Back with the familiarity of the Italian mid-table, Mazzarri could finally be himself again after years of trying to be someone he wasn’t.

Since assuming the reigns at the club, Mazzarri has steadied the ship and has made the most of the roster at his disposal. Using his trademark 3-5-2, the former Napoli tactician has transformed Andrea Belotti into a more complete striker, beyond what the stat-sheet might show. At the back, Armando Izzo, who arrived in the summer from Genoa, has been Mazzarri’s undisputed leader and has led by example. Alongside Nkoulou and Moretti, the trio have formed one of the league’s most solid partnerships at the back and have only conceded 22 goals – a feat only bested by the current top four.

In fact, in their last five games I Granata have managed five clean sheets beating the likes of Inter and Atalanta, and held Napoli to a stalemate. Torino also have their keeper Salvatore Sirigu to thank in large part, as the Italian international has played his best football since his Palermo days. After an inconsistent couple of years in Paris and a few loan moves, Sirigu has once again emerged as one of the nation’s top shot-stoppers and has been in top form this season.

Factor in Chelsea loanee Ola Aina’s industry and creativity from the left wing along with De Silvestri’s experience and veteran leadership, and Torino are one tough side to score on, let alone beat.

Mazzarri’s Torino is very similar to any of his past sides that he’s had success with. A compact trio in the midfield, a dangerous duo up top complimenting each other, all-while relying on a resolute defence. We’ve seen this before. With Tomas Rincon acting as the midfield hard-man, as his ten yellow cards would suggest, Daniele Baselli and Soualiho Meité are able to get forward to supply Iago Falque and Belotti. As a whole, Mazzarri’s Torino come together as a real force, and are proof that the sum could be greater than its parts.

Whether or not they qualify for the Europa League remains to be seen as the competition is fierce, however, if Torino have showed us anything this season, it’s that Walter Mazzarri is truly back at his best and it’s wonderful to see.

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