With the new season right around the corner, we look at what it might have in store for Giampiero Ventura’s Torino.
For the last two seasons Torino, led by Giampiero Ventura, have surprised everyone in Italy with their consistent play and with two consecutive, respectable mid-table finishes. Last season, the granata faithful had much to cheer about despite finishing in ninth place. Going into the new season, Torino had to make do without the services of their capocannoniere Ciro Immobile and Alessio Cerci. The duo’s exploits gained recognition across Europe and moved to Borussia Dortmund and Atletico Madrid, respectively. Ventura’s side, however, proved that they would be just fine without them. Outside of their mid-table finish, they had an impressive run in Europe. After making it out of the group stages, Torino were drawn against Athletic Bilbao. What happened next was the stuff of dreams for the granata faithful as they would witness their side do what no Italian team has ever done before. Torino would win at the San Mamés and became the first ever Italian team to do so in history. Unfortunately, after progressing past the Basques, Torino found their match in the form of Zenit Saint-Petersburg and bowed out of the round of 16 of the Europa League following a valiant effort.
Torino’s league form did not take a considerable hit despite their European run as they were able to maintain their mid-table position. A large part of this can be attributed to Fabio Quagliarella’s timely goals and his ability to lead the line. The former Juventus man finished the season with thirteen league goals and was a crucial piece of this team. We must not also forget the contributions of Torino’s twin terrors at fullback with Bruno Peres and Matteo Darmian tormenting opposition’s defenses while providing stability at the back. Perhaps the most important contribution was not of a player but of the man leading them. Giampiero Ventura’s decided to stick with his practical 3-5-2 and reaped the rewards. This formation ensured that he got the best out of his players on both sides of the ball. Torino were both compact in defense and were as efficient as they come in Italy going forward. Their run in the Coppa Italia, on the other hand, wasn’t meant to be as they encountered a strong Lazio side in the round of sixteen. Torino were eliminated by the eventual finalists. This season they will definitely look to improve in this respect.
Following a good season, Ventura acknowledged the need to strengthen and took to the transfer window. Over the course of the last few months, Torino have conducted some of the most impressive and ambitious business throughout the whole league. After Darmian’s move to Manchester United came to fruition, it left a gaping hole in defense. I granata turned to Atalanta’s Davide Zappacosta and signed him for €6m. While they were negotiating with Atalanta, they also agreed to a €4m deal to bring in Daniele Baselli. In a matter of a few days, Torino had brought in two of Italy’s most promising players for a combined fee of €10m. They would not stop there as Ventura’s side would then acquire the other half of Marco Benassi from Inter for €3,5m after going to envelopes. One move of theirs that went under the radar for Torino was their purchase of Danilo Avelar from Cagliari. The Brazilian has been among the more consistent players in Italy and only costed I granata €3m. In addition to this slew of signings, Torino also bought Afriyie Acquah from Hoffenheim and Joel Obi from Inter. Before the window closes, they will likely bring in a striker to compete with Quagliarella, Maxi Lopez and Josef Martinez. As of right now, Andrea Belotti is the leading candidate for the role as it has been heavily reported that Palermo and Torino have agreed to a deal worth €7.5 for the young Italian striker. The signing would further confirm the club’s exciting project to build with younger, talented players.
On the other side of the transfer spectrum, there hasn’t been too much activity. Much like it had happened the season before, top clubs from all around the world queued up for the latest players to break out under Ventura’s guidance. Darmian would later move to Manchester United while both Bruno Peres and Nikola Maksimovic have been linked to moves to the best clubs in Italy. Even if the club has arguably lost their best player, they have done more than enough to replace Darmian with Zappacosta and Danilo Avelar. Another player to leave Torino was Omar El Kaddouri following the expiry of his loan deal. The Moroccan midfielder often provided a spark in the final third and registered four assists on the season. With the acquisitions of Benassi and Baselli, Torino replaced El Kaddouri with players with far different skill sets. In any case, the Italian midfielders should be enough to forget all about the Napoli man. That said, they will need to find a player that offers them unpredictability when attacking. By the end of the transfer window, I fully expect the departures list to grow, however, as Maksimovic has been the subject of interest from Italy’s top clubs. The Serbian defender will likely sign with Napoli and will leave Ventura with quite the problem. Bruno Peres, on the other hand, does not appear to be on his way of Torino but that possibility should not be discounted in the coming weeks.
How will they line up next year?
Even if the men comprising the eleven will be wholly different next season, the system is not expected to change. I’d wager my money that Ventura will be sticking with the 3-5-2 formation that has so far brought him favorable results. That said, it will be interesting to see just how the new signings come in to play. Will Zappacosta displace Bruno Peres? Can Baselli be the regista this side needs? Only time will tell how it all comes together for I granata but there is a good chance that the Torino team lacing up their boots for the new season will play in a very similar fashion to the Torino teams of the past, albeit with a few new faces. Along with their new-look midfield, Ventura’s side will look to take Serie A by storm, once again.
Key Player: Daniele Baselli
Going into the new season, Torino will have to turn to a new face to lead the side. While Quagliarella’s goals will a key factor in this team’s success, a lot of their success will hinge on the performances of Daniele Baselli. The former Atalanta man is not coming off the best of seasons and needs to step up his game in order to deliver on his promise. If Baselli is able to do so, Torino will have found an ideal player to dictate the play for them. The 23-year-old must act as the glue that holds Torino’s completely revamped midfield together. Given his qualities, Baselli should be able to do this but he must first find consistency. It is no secret that the player hasn’t been the most consistent of players but at Torino that is expected to change. Moreover, he will finally be handed the chance to play in his preferred position week in, week out. At Atalanta, the midfielder’s creativity was stifled by countless managers and was often played on the outside of a midfield three. Under Ventura at Torino, on the other hand, Baselli will have the perfect venue to express his talents.
Looking to the new season:
After getting off to a less than stellar start last season, Torino will be hoping for a change in fortunes in this regard. Given their early fixtures, there is no reason that Ventura’s side should not aspire to this. Their first game of the season comes against Serie A newcomers, Frosinone, which should be a routine three points. In their second game of the season, they play Paulo Sousa’s new-look Fiorentina. While on paper they appear to be a strong opposition, Fiorentina are not the same team they were last season. In their next three games, they then take on a decent Verona, a Sampdoria side that has undergone multiple changes and a far from exciting Chievo. As a result of this, I do believe that as long as their new signings get properly integrated into the team, Torino should do just fine early on.
As for the season as a whole, the granata faithful should not get too carried away. Despite their best efforts on the transfer market, the sad reality is that Juventus, Inter, Napoli, Lazio, Roma and perhaps Milan are all better equipped for next season. Moreover, the departure of Darmian and the uncertainty over Maksimovic’s future is far from reassuring. Ventura’s side, however, have still conducted some of the best business in Italy and for this reason should have yet another season that consolidates their spot in the top half of the table. As a result of this, challenging for a Europa League spot should not be out of their reach. They also have the advantage of preparing for one game a week due to the fact that they missed out on European football next season. As for the cup run, it will largely depend on the luck of the draw but I do believe that this time around they will reach the quarter finals of the Coppa Italia. Going into next season, I wouldn’t put in past Ventura and his men to replicate their efforts from the 2013-2014 season. To be fair, it would be foolish to count out Ventura’s Torino as many have done before only to later eat crow.
Predicted league finish: 7th
Predicted Coppa Italia finish: Quarter finals
European football: n/a