Torino v Juventus: Who will triumph in derby as host facing relegation threat against Pirlo under attack?
“They are strong, but we are ready,” said Torino forward Antonio Sanabria Gazzetta dello Sport ahead of the Turin derby against Juventus on Saturday.
The two teams – like last season when they finished 16th and top respectively – are on opposite sides of the Serie A table, but both fear the consequences if the results don’t improve, and fast.
And where better to start than against your old rivals?
Torino faces a battle to avoid relegation this season and is 17th for the Turin derby
Antonio Sanabria insisted that his side was ready to stand against Juventus on Saturday
Before the international break, this match was heralded by sections of the Italian press as a must-win for Juve boss Andrea Pirlo if he wanted to keep his job after falling 10 points short of the title race pace.
On the other hand, in their ninth consecutive season in the top flight since promotion in 2012, Torino is heavily involved in a relegation battle.
They have struggled to build momentum at any point in the campaign, highlighted by their form immediately prior to the international hiatus.
After claiming a 3-2 win over Sassuolo, they suffered a 1-0 defeat at Sampdoria on March 21, a match in which they failed a shot on goal and never seemed close to an equalizing goal after conceding a goal from Antonio Candreva.
The defeat left them just one point above 18th place Cagliari, and a run of three defeats in their last four games means they weren’t looking forward to hitting form anytime soon.
Torino failed to gain momentum and lost to Sampdoria who beat Sassuolo
Even more worrying for the hosts, the win over Sassuolo remains the only win in a terrible home record at the Stadio Olimpico Grande Torino in 2020-21.
Only Cagliari (48) conceded fewer goals than Torino (50) from those teams in the bottom six in Serie A, but the defense has been concerned lately as Davide Nicola’s side had allowed nine goals in their last four matches. .
And on the other, they are struggling to find enough support for top scorer Andrea Belotti, who has scored 11 of their 39 league goals this season and is turning a fruitful break with Italy. Simone Zaza is next on the list of five.
Goals were also a problem for Juventus in third place in their surprise home defeat to Benevento in the last game before the international break, putting pressure on Pirlo, who was already under attack.
The reigning Serie A champions had 21 shots on target in their most recent encounter, but only a third of them were on target, meaning they couldn’t count their superior shots and ball possession statistics.
The hosts have only won once at home and are too dependent on Andrea Belotti for goals
In addition, the shadow of their Champions League exit to Porto has lingered over the Allianz Stadium for the last 16 years, with the long-term project to recruit Cristiano Ronaldo to bring them the European crown has so far failed.
But their Champions League elimination may be overshadowed by the disappointment of finally winning the national title after nine consecutive wins.
Whether or not they can avoid this may depend on the state of mind that Ronaldo has returned after an eventful series of international matches with Portugal.
The 36-year-old threw his final tantrum after being denied a late winner against Serbia, threw the captain’s armband to the ground and stormed off the field in disgust.
Ronaldo has also been criticized in Italy for his international service tantrum, with critics claiming that he is not the same player who led Real Madrid to four Champions League trophies, despite scoring 23 goals this season.
Juventus’ ability to close the gap with leader Inter Milan rests on Cristiano Ronaldo’s state of mind
His last three came on their last outing in Cagliari, Juventus’ fifth win on their travels in their last eight Serie A games, indicating that there is life in the Portuguese star despite the recent negativity that has come his way.
Portuguese coach Fernando Santos insisted that Ronaldo remained ‘an example for everyone’ despite his antics, and now Pirlo must support his main star in a similar way, encouraging him to bring out that hunger for goals if he is to help Juventus do it. hole to the top.
Antonio Conte’s Inter Milan leads Pirlo’s men by ten points with only 11 games to go on the season, leaving the champions no margin of error in their pursuit of a 10th consecutive domestic crown.
Their run-in does include a game against the two Milanese teams – the two teams sitting in front of them – but Pirlo’s main concern will reach the beginning of May as no further mistakes have been made.
Leonardo Bonucci was the hero last time but will miss the match due to corona virus
However, if history has anything to offer, their local rivals should prove to be no impenetrable obstacle.
Juventus has the overwhelming advantage in this game, winning 25 of the 35 previous meetings between the teams. Torino’s win in those games, meanwhile, is only three.
More recent derbies between the two make for even uglier read for Saturday’s hosts, with the current Italian champion winning seven of the last eight encounters.
The last of those encounters, however, was far from straightforward for Pirlo’s men, clearing a 1-0 deficit to win 2-1 in December.
Weston McKennie and Paulo Dybala could also be out after Covid protocol violations
Nicolas Nkoulou fired at home after a poor defense from Juventus from the corner, and the visitors held their ground until Weston McKennie’s header restored parity before Leonardo Bonucci knocked a captain home in the 89th minute.
While the problems were finally overcome on the field in December, Pirlo faces a number of problems before the second derby of the season even gets underway.
Bonucci will not be able to produce such feats this time around after returning a positive test for coronavirus, while Pirlo has again suffered a defensive headache and Merih Demiral has also been banned from the derby.
Midfield, meanwhile, has been the biggest concern for Juventus this season and it could be even more of an issue with some reports suggesting that McKennie, Paulo Dybala and Arthur Melo could all miss the game after attending an illegal lockdown. party.
That could lead to boss Andrea Pirlo choosing midfield players he doesn’t seem to trust
The trio would be severely punished by the club after police were called to the home of the American star and private parties were banned due to the virus.
If they all didn’t show up, Pirlo would be left with very few options in midfield, and the burden would consequently fall on players he doesn’t seem to trust in the end.
While he’s not solely to blame for Juventus’ shortcomings this season, Aaron Ramsey appears closest to the exit in the summer as the club’s patience is reportedly running out.
Pirlo tried, but in the end found it difficult to justify the Welshman’s last absence after he dropped out again just before the international break, and rumors surrounding the club over the past two weeks have also been about his and Adrien’s future. Rabiot.
Rodrigo Bentancur has been disappointed, while Adrien Rabiot has been linked with an exit
But those two – besides Rodrigo Bentancur under fire – are the only central options available to Pirlo, if the Welshman has indeed recovered from his thigh injury as Juventus try to keep up with the Milan teams.
However, the former Italy midfielder could hardly have picked a more nimble opponent to face the potential of several big names, given his side’s total dominance in this match and the hosts’ low position at the table.
This match hasn’t been much of a defining feature in recent seasons, but this latest installment of the Turin derby can nonetheless provide a strong indication of how both teams intend to move forward in the lead-up to the final part of the season.