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The Big Eight Download: Can Torino Stop Being the Second Fiddle in Turin?

While Torino may be the team in Turin, their city Rivals dictate the landscape of Serie A. With Europe next season and a positive season at their back, can Torino take the next step and begin to challenge for Europe.

Torino is the most popular team in their home city, which would be impressive if they did not share the city with Juventus. For years Torino has had some form of excellent striker within its midst. Torino plays a very aggressive style of soccer, and their brash and rugged nature has earned them many detractors. Throughout the season, Mazzari’s 3-5-2 formation took shape as an impactful way to press wingers and advance the ball up the field. Iago Falque would help become a pivot for the flow of the offense, as a ball carrier or the creator in the attack.

Their main man, Belotti, managed a decent haul of 15 goals and 3 assists which would put him in the stronger end of goal contributors. His goal total would make him the fifth highest scorer. Torino championed wing play, which has become stronger in Serie A, and the overlaps that they would employ did allow them to push onward as a team.

Torino had very similar goals scored and conceded rate as the two Milan teams; however, they consistently played in a lot of high scoring affairs. Games against AS Roma and Empoli where they are surrendering 3 or 4 goals and losing or games where they are scoring 3 but giving up 2 does not help goal differential. Torino also had some games in which they beat teams by 3 goals which can inflate the goal differential. There is a working team here; however, it is not at the level to which it can make a serious run at the Champions League. The Europa League or no Europe is a better fit.


Sirigu is a solid goalie with some solid performances over this past season. He had 14 clean sheets and saved 2 penalties. He’s good for the league and is not a position of concern. The main issue with Sirigu is that he is old. Goalies can age gracefully; however, it seems unsure how many more years he has in him as a starting goalie. Sirigu does not have a lengthy injury list ever; however, he did have one injury around Christmas of last season.

An investment in a younger goalie would be a smart idea, and preparing for a Sirigu-less future would be intelligent. However, there is no real need to be concerned with goaltending for the upcoming season.

The Defense

Nicolas N’Koulou is the backbone of the three-man backline. The ex-Marseille player is a staple in the defensive unit that Torino employs. They shift between a 5-3-2 in defense and a 3-5-2 in the offense, so the center backs do not rotate a lot, but have coverage from the fullbacks. Izzo is the other mainstay in the backline and composes a serviceable defense; however, there is a need for improvement. None of these players would be considered elite Serie A defenders, and are acceptable for the Europa League, however, not preferred.

Ansaldi plays the more stopper role in the backline where he is committing the most tackles per game. Izzo commits the most passes throughout the game; he is the main outlet from the back. N’Koulou does both and is the most versatile of the three men. Djidji replaces Ansaldi in the starting XI and does about the same things. He is a good back up for Ansaldi and should start seeing more time as he is six years younger and has equally good defensive statistics over the course of last season. He tackles at the same rate, commits more passes, and intercepts the ball more per 90 minutes.

The Midfield

The five-man midfield set up for Torino lends itself to a significant amount of overlaps on the wing and a dynamic offensive. Torino can create wide runs for Silvestri and Aina so that they may play balls into the box and generate headers for Bellotti. This system can cause chaos because the wingbacks are able to press high up the field and create issues for other teams. This system works most effectively when wingers do not track back to play defense. Milan fell victim to this when they played Torino because the wingers are not particularly good at defense and the outside backs get isolated.

The offensive box-to-box midfielder Daniele Baselli highlights the three men who inhabit the center of the field. He attacks more aggressively up the field and is much more a function of the attack for Torino. Rincon is more of a defensive midfielder and takes most of the tackling duties for the midfield. He is a solid defensive midfielder, but yet again, he is 31 and is player that should get replaced soon. A young, more versatile defensive midfielder will be needed. Meite is the youngest of the three and the least able of the three. His role in the midfield is defined by him doing everything, but nothing particularly amazing. He is 25 and could get slightly better; however, I have my doubts. It is a fine midfield, but it would not be considered elite in any way.

The Attack

Welcome to the fun section, which could be called Andrea Belotti Still is Good. He has become more of a poacher, which is understandable because of all of the injuries. He needs a support striker for him to function as well as he possibly could, and Iago Falque does this. Falque will change his location on the field based on how the midfield is handling break out play. If a press is trapping the center backs and Baselli, then Falque will drop to become more of a ball-carrying type. He can also facilitate overlaps for the wingbacks and help create crosses for Belotti to run onto in the box. Their dynamic allows the poaching style of Belotti to function more. He needs support, and Falque does this.

Simone Zaza is the most commonly used sub for attack and plays a similar style to Belotti. However, Zaza is not as able as Belotti and can struggle. If Belotti and Zaza are playing at the same time, then Falque will become more crucial for creating crosses. Zaza is very capable as a backup and will deploy as a similar player to Belotti. He may be able to create goals during the Europa League, and I expect him to score well in that competition.

The Prediction

Is Torino good? Will they stay at this level? Will they go far in the Europa League? Most of these are maybes. Falque and Belotti are both able to create goals from nothing, and that may be enough to make some noise. There is undoubtedly a skill that exists on Torino, and they do have players that could be of Europa League caliber; however, there are not enough. Losing M’Baye Niang will be a significant blow as he is a perfect Falque compliment and is a different form of an attacker that Torino has been without in recent years. Typically losing players of his ilk will be an issue for Torino. He still has the skill and loaning him out and barely using him seems to be a mistake. He added 15 goals, scored and assisted, in the league last year for Rennes. He should start for Torino; however, Niang left the club a few windows ago.

Torino should maintain their location within the Big Eight in Italy for another season. With Roma falling away and the uncertainty around Lazio, they may be able to expand their position. Europa League will ultimately depend on whether or not they get a challenging group draw. There is undoubtedly a fine team here, but it is nothing more than fine. There could always be transfers that may change the outlook for Torino, and N’Koulou has recently received links with a move away, but the team should maintain. The only issue for them, their city rivals have gotten much better so do not expect them to get a draw, let alone a win, against Juventus this year.