‘There is a Toro to discover – Come here, you will have fun’. That was the Tuttosport headline on Thursday morning and to all intents and purposes, they were right.
Later that day, Torino would beat Sudtirol in the Coppa Italia to secure a quarter-final match against Fiorentina. They would also look forward to Sunday night’s trip to Milan with confidence, as the Rossoneri are only four points ahead of them in Serie A. The Granata sit is sixth after a campaign so far, that has seen them play some good football and as the Turin based paper alluded to, they are enjoying themselves in the process.
It cannot be said that the Granata dispatched Sudtirol with consummate ease, as the Serie C side made things difficult for them. In the glorious backdrop that surrounds the Stadio Druso, the ‘Tirolesi’ Coach and former Torino man, Paolo Zanetti, organised his team and pushed the superior opposition until the last minute.
The away side had rested players, but Simone Zaza’s assist found Roberto Soriano for the opener before the exciting young Simone Edera put the game to bed late on. The reward was a quarter-final fixture against the Viola, in a game that looks to be one of the ties of the round. Walter Mazzarri’s may now be looking at the competition as a chance to win Toro’s first trophy, since the Coppa Italia since 1993.
The recent run Torino have been on is an impressive one. Admittedly they are not anywhere near the finished article and often can be guilty of packing the midfield with defensive players against the teams in the top half of the table. This in turn can slow down the play and their creative outlets then wait for moments of genius from the likes of Iago Falque or Andrea Belotti. The latter has only five goals this term, illuminating the fact that he is not getting enough service in some games, but these are all things that are being worked on and when they have got it right, they have looked electric.
Perhaps being hard to beat is the main thing and the likes of Salvatore Sirigu in goal and good performances from defenders Nicolas Nkoulou and Armando Izzo at times have certainly contributed to this. Midfielders Daniele Baselli and Soualiho Meite have also impressed as has Soriano who can add a little bit of culture. They currently in the Europa League places having lost only one (against Parma) in their last 10 games, in all competitions. This is a run that goes back to September, when they were beaten by Napoli, but on the flip side it has seen a stand out display against Sampdoria.
For the most part the points have been won in a gutsy and challenging manner, the last league game Genoa was perhaps the key example, but they have also seen games, such as the draw with Cagliari, in which they should have won.
Mazzarri, who has just recovered from a health scare, claimed his team do not make it easy for themselves and are guilty of wasting too many chances. Despite this, there is a feeling that things are coming together. Yes, some games look like the midfield is too congested, but they are not easy to break down and if they can use this against the bigger teams it could become an asset. Milan are next and before the Derby Della Mole rears its head and the Granata can genuinely approach these games with confidence.
It is true that Belotti could be having a better season. He goes form games where he isn’t getting enough chances, to matches where he squanders too many but if he can find form, then he could be the key to helping Torino go from having a good season, to a great one. Their defence is on par with Lazio, it is the joint fifth best in the league but they do need to finish more chances, as they have scored 19 goals, which is the 11th best in the division.
Tuttosport had a point, come and discover Torino, it is fun and the Granata seem to be on a journey of self-discovery themselves. If they can turn manage to create an equilibrium in games where they can consistently create chances in games and either Belotti, Zaza or both can find some form, then Torino could be looking at a Europa League finish and a good run in the Coppa Italia.
For the long-suffering Toro faithful, this would be an excellent finish to the season and be fitting reward for a club so rich in tradition and history that seems to be finally fulfilling its potential.