Torino v Wolves: Inside track on the Serie A side
Wolves make the trip to Turin this week as they do battle with Torino - get to know the Serie A side here.
We spoke with Tom Griffiths from CalcioEngland, Serie A writer Chloe Beresford, and Marco D'Onofrio from StereoSerieA to get a proper look at the Italians.
See what they had to say here...
How have Torino fared in Serie A over recent campaigns, have they been one of the top performers in Italy?
TG: Torino have been a consistent upper mid-table side since returning to Serie A in 2012/13.
They finished seventh last season, missing out on European qualification by just three points. Torino’s performance last season was slightly above expectations given their annual budget.
Torino only learned they would be participating in this season’s Europa League competition at the very end of June after AC Milan were banned as a consequence of financial breaches. They’ve had to adjust their pre-season schedule accordingly.
CB: No, Torino have been a mid-table outfit for some time now, last making the Europa League in 2014/15 and before that their last outing in European competition was the Intertoto Cup in 2002.
Last term, Walter Mazzarri made them very tough to break down, and they only conceded 37 times in 38 domestic fixtures.
Yet they only made the Europa League due to AC Milan's Financial Fair Play problems, as the Rossoneri voluntarily gave up their spot in this year's competition in order to settle the case against them.
MD: Torino have finished in the top half of the table for the last three seasons – barely missing out on European competition last year by ending the campaign in 7th.
However, with Milan being sanctioned for FIFA Fair Play violations Il Toro find themselves back in Europe for the first time since the 2014-2015 season.
What sort of style of play can we expect to see from Torino against Wolves?
TG: Former Watford manager Walter Mazzarri had Torino set up in a well-drilled 3-5-2 last season.
The backline is the foundation of the team. Salvatore Sirigu was a revelation on his return to Italy from PSG last summer.
The central defensive pairing of Nicolas N’koulou and Armando Izzo were key to their success too, with Izzo breaking into the Italy team at the end of last season. Together they conceded less than a goal per game on average last season.
The wing-backs (typically some combination of Christian Ansaldi, Ola Aina and Lorenzo Di Silvestri) are a key attacking outlet for Torino, providing the ammunition for Andrea Bellotti up front. Bellotti tends to be paired with a secondary striker, such as Iago Falque.
The rest of the midfield is industrious and hard to break down, without being exceptional. Tomas Rincon is usually the holding midfielder, whilst Daniele Baselli gets up and down to support attacks.
The main caveat to all of this is that in the Europa League qualifiers so far, Mazzarri has gone for a modified 3-4-3. However, this more offensive line up might be a reflection of the calibre of opposition they were facing.
CB: You will see a team that are very difficult to break down, they concede very few goals, but also like to hit teams on the break, hoping one of their strikers can finish any chances created for them.
MD: Head coach Walter Mazzarri may be best known for his time at Napoli when he produced some exciting football with the likes of Marek Hamsik, Edinson Cavani and Ezequiel Lavezzi leading the way.
His style of play has not changed much wherever he has gone, staying loyal to playing with three at the back.
They are dangerous on the counter-attack and could go from defence to attack in seconds which is Wolves will really need to be careful not to concede.
Who are the big guns on the pitch Wolves will need to worry about?
TG: The key man is undoubtedly 25 year-old forward and captain Andrea Bellotti.
Three seasons ago he hit 28 goals and was linked with a big money move away from Torino. However, a succession of injuries in 17/18 contributed to him losing his way, and Torino suffered as a result.
Last season he recaptured some of his form, scoring 17 goals. He’s a born goalscorer; an instinctive poacher inside the box with head and boot, but also capable of the spectacular from further out.
At the other end of the field, Salvatore Sirigu was in the form of his life last season (aged 32) and proved himself to be one of the most consistent ‘keepers in Serie A.
If Torino do progress, it is likely that Sirigu will be a key man.
CB: Andrea Belotti is a talented striker and has been linked with moves to the Premier League in the past, however ex-Juventus man Simone Zaza has been in great form in the previous qualifying rounds.
Tomas Rincon is a real midfield enforcer, and defender Armando Izzo is also a real presence in the heart of the defence.
Look out for English-born Ola Aina on wingback duty, as he has just signed for the club from Chelsea after a superb debut season in Serie A.
MD: Italians Andrea Belotti and Simone Zaza may be the most familiar faces on the pitch and pack quite a punch.
Belotti found the back of the net 15 times in the Italian top-flight last season and is going to be a real threat against Wolves.
Zaza on the other hand had just four goals and three assists on his return to the peninsula after failed spells abroad with West Ham and Valencia.
When at his best though, he can be lethal and should not be overlooked in this encounter.
What are Torino's expectations regarding Europa League football this season in your opinion? How far do you think Torino could go in the Europa League should they get by Wolves?
TG: Drawing Wolves will have been a major blow to Torino as they would have targeted at least the knock-out stages of the Europa League.
If they do get past Wolves, the challenge for them in the coming season will be to sustain form on both domestic and European fronts.
Torino have been strangely quiet on the transfer front this summer, particularly given the expectation of a busier schedule this season.
Their main pieces of business have been to make permanent a number of their loan deals from last season, such as Ola Aina from Chelsea and Christian Ansaldi from Inter.
On paper their squad lacks depth, and they’ll be in particular trouble if they lose Bellotti for any period.
CB: I think any progress will feel like a bonus to them, especially considering the way they qualified.
Maybe not too far due to their lack of experience in Europe. I'd guess at an exit at the first knockout stage.
MD: Torino will look to at least match their Round of 16 appearance that they managed the last time they participated in the tournament.
However, it will not be an easy feat and they will be in for a tough battle against Wolves.
They do not have the deepest squad so if they do manage to reach the group stage they could struggle to balance multiple competitions.
I think their progress in the competition largely depends on their luck with the draw, but I do not believe that the Round of 16 or even a quarter-final appearance is out of the question.
The club will be looking to showcase themselves in Europe and I think Mazzarri is the perfect tactician to help them do that.
Are there any injury worries troubling the Italian side at the moment?
TG: Nothing of any note – the line ups for the qualifiers to date have featured all of their key players.
CB: There are no significant injuries at present for Mazzarri to worry about.
MD: Torino enter the campaign relatively healthy with no real injury concerns.
What's your predicted XI?
TG: 5-3-2: Sirigu, Ansaldi, Izzo, N’Koulou, Bremer, De Silvestri; Rincon, Baselli, Meite; Falque, Bellotti
CB: It could be a 3-4-2-1 of Sirigu; Izzo N'Koulou, Bremer; Di Silvestri, Rincon, Baselli, Aina; Falque, Lukic; Belotti with Zaza as a "supersub".
MD: Sirigu; Izzo, N’Koulou, Bremer; De Silvestri, Baselli, Meite, Ansaldi; Zaza, Belotti, Berenguer
Your match, and overall tie, prediction?
TG: Overall, I’d have to back Wolves to progress over the two legs – the centre of the midfield will be a key battle where I expect Wolves’ quality to prevail.
Last season, Torino were much stronger at home than away and will be backed by a pretty lively support at the Olimpico.
I expect the first game to end in either a draw or perhaps a one goal advantage for Torino, with all to play for at Molineux in the second leg!
CB: I'd say 0-0 in Turin and then perhaps a 2-1 win for Wolves at Molineux.
MD: I think it's going to be a hard fought battle with either team capable of advancing to the group stage. But I do believe Torino will advance after two close contests.
I think Torino wins the first leg at home 2-1 and the second leg is a 1-1 draw.
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