After a cup of coffee (Lavazza, of course!) We are back with another update of our season 2014/25. The last three posts have updated you from Preseason to the end of October, A tactical nuance of the WM formation we have used since day one with Torino, and the last update that took us from November 2024 to the end of January 2025.
The disappointment of falling short for the second time against Napoli this season had taken it toll, hence the stiff coffee. This post will hopefully wrap the season up…..
Our first match in February was an away match against Bologna, just what we needed to shake our TIM Cup hangover out of our system. Teenaged starlet Michael Mensah opened the scoring in the very first minute, with Dell’Anna and a Donis own goal ensuring we won with a convincing score line. 3-0.
Next up was our long-awaited trip to Greece. To play Olympiakos in the 1st knockout round of UEFA’s Europa League, this would be our first match of this competition, we had come third in our group during the Champions League, and this was our reward for battling so hard in that competition. The build up ahead of the match was massive. In fact, the hype goes back to the previous update. However, like all hypes the match itself was a flat pancake. We lined up with a strong team but for some strange reason the lads had clearly put their minds set on the beach rather than the pitch. We struggled to get going and in the 17th minute the only goal of the game was scored. Diogo Dalot scored from close range…..to give Olympiakos the advantage. Rightback Santiago Arias whipped in a deep cross into our box and Left winger Brian Mansilla almost got on the end of it. Dalot managed to beat Mansilla to the ball unfortunately he just headed the ball into the back of our net rather than out for a corner.
I showed great disappointment after the match, assertively telling the boys that the performance I had just seen was not good enough. Everyone took my words in the flight home was a quiet one.
The next match was at home to Atalanta in the league, I dropped Dalot after a very poor performance and reinstated De Leonardis to right back. The team barely got out of second gear as we opened the scoring through Di Lauro in the eighth minute. Five minutes later Dell’Anna scored a penalty to put us 2-0 up. We then cruised the rest of the match to see out the match.
Could that win help with the second leg of the Europa League tie against Olympiakos? It may well have done. But so, could the capacity crowd at the Olimpico Grande Torino. We went into the match needing a big performance from key players. We got a big performance from most of the team. We won 4-0. Ganso, Barella, Van den Engel and Taddei all scoring to take the Il Toro through to the next round.
We then rounded the month off with two home victories. A 3-1 win against Fiorentina and then a 5-0 win against Empoli.
March would arrive with an element of confusion. More due to the lack of fixtures than anything else. My confusion must have rubbed off on to the team as we started March with a stutter. The Olimpico in Roma saw us that a 2-0 lead until the 89th minute. Roma’s leading marksman Antonio Russo scored a screamer from inside the 18yrd box. Then after a La Torre mistake in the 94th minute, Roma would break quickly again. This time Russo would hold the ball up and be the provider for Lucas Torreira to score the equaliser. 2-2.
The next Thursday would see us compete in the second round for the Europa League. The first leg was at the Anoeta, the home of Real Sociedad. We were still shell shock ed from the weekend. Which showed as veteran midfielder Axel Witsel scored a close-range header from a corner. We then took the game to Sociedad. But we didn’t get a breakthrough until the 73rd minute. Daniele Baselli whipped in a cross from a freekick, Apraham Pan was then pushed in the box. Which gave the Russian referee the chance to give a penalty. Baselli then slotted home the resulting penalty to put the tie back in our grasp for the second leg. 1-1.
Our very next match was the second leg tie against Real Sociedad. And this match started just like the first. With Sociedad scoring the first. A long diagonal ball was played to our left back area, Luca Germoni failed to clear or claim the ball resulting in a cross from Zeracho placing the ball in the box for Martial to have a shot at goal. Pasotti saved the first attempt but spilled the ball into the path of Martial to have a second bite of the cherry….He duly scored. We then set about keeping the ball, initially in safe areas then eventual higher up the pitch. In the second half after successfully defending a corner we then broke in to attack with venom. Mina cleared the ball left as far as the halfway line. Dell’Anna chased and then drove with the ball towards the byline. He crossed for Van den Engel, who calmly chested the ball down to then rifle a shot past Rulli. The tie was now even stevens once again. On the 82 minute we then pressed Sociedad who were playing a little keep ball at the back. Dell’Anna’s presence upsetting Fuentes in the Sociedad defence. Barella’s ball would see Dell’Anna act as the perfect targetman. who absorbed the ball and the advancing pressure of the Sociedad defence to find a gap and play a lovely weighted ball for Vannini. Alessio, not one to shy away from making headlines duly slotted home to push the tie in Torino’s favour. We would see out the remaining ten minutes and go through to the quarter finals.
The final fixture of march would see a changed line up and a first team starting debut for Gianmarco Riitano. A 16-year-old midfielder who had been snapped up from Lazio during the summer transfer activity in 2024. DoF Petrachi had spent £4m on the boy who has bags of potential. We played Sampdoria away and won 4-1. Riitano scoring the third and opening his Torino account.
April would start in the Europa League, back in my old stomping ground. The London Stadium, the home of West Ham Utd. The home crowd were welcoming, Paulo Fonseca the new West Ham manager, was less so. The match was a captivating affair. With neither side really showing their true colours in front of goal. That is until the 75th minute when centre back Jonathon Panzo launched a through ball long down there left. Jon Davies collected the ball and drove to the box before unleashing a powerful shot past Pasotti. The match ended with no further fizz and the result was 1-0 to West Ham.
Milan were our next fixture. And a few faces that were forced to sit out the West Ham match returned. Dell’Anna and Mensah were the notable inclusions. The later scoring along side Nico Barella and Van Den Engel. For Il Toro to win 3-0.
The return leg vs West Ham Utd was next. We absolutely dominated the match, producing more passes than what we would normally. But it would take until the 90th minutes for Tomy Di Lauro to score the only goal of the match. This would level the tie on aggregate and force extra time. Nothing was concluded in extra time which meant another course of the dreaded penalties.
Our first two takers would miss their attempts (Dell’Anna and Taddei), which meant we were staring at the face of defeat before Christian Fruchtl stepped up and saved West Ham’s fourth penalty. We would go on to score four penalties with Fruchtl saving three on the bounce to take Il Toro through to the Semi Finals.
Understandably the next two games went with very little pomp due to the exploits of penalties. We would draw away to Palermo and Carpi. 2-2 and 1-1 respectively.
Our last match of the month would see Udinese visit the Olimpico Grande Torino. We were more like our dominant self, by having a host of chances, restricting the opposition to nothing and winning 3-0. With Dell’Anna, Van den Engel and Taddei scoring and Mensah acting main provider.
May would then see a massive ten fixtures in twenty-eight days.
The first match was held on a Thursday at a wet Nuevo Mestalla. Where we would play the first leg of the Semi final tie of the Europa League against Valencia. The opening goal would come from Valencia after forcing Torino veteran Baselli in to mistake near the halfway line. There, Soler passed forward to the advancing Rodrigo, who crossed the ball into space for Loro to pounce and score. Loro would put away an unchallenged shot to give the Spanish side the lead.
I made a big change at half time and replace Baselli with Laurenzi. I also let rip in the dressing room to get a reaction out of the team.
We start to improve as a team in the second half. Following a foul on Mensah, Ganso stepped up to take the resulting freekick. He duly smacked the ball into the back of the net to pull Il Toro back into the tie and resurrect some life into the Torino team.
Four minutes later Santiago Mina scored a close-range header courtesy of a Van Den Engel corner. We would go on to pepper the fragile Valencia defence with attacks, but the match ended 2-1.
Our next match would be Udinese again in Serie A. I can only guess the schedulers forgot to add Udinese to our list then panicked and thought no-one would notice two matches on the bounce in April and May. Needless to say, we won again. This time we won 3-1. Di Lauro and a Dell’Anna brace making the difference.
The second leg match against Valencia was next. In short, we won 2-0. Mensah and Dell’Anna scoring. We secured a date with destiny…. The chance to win a major European Trophy… Our reward would be a final against Villareal, to be played at the Stade Pierre Mauroy in Lille, France.
With the final of the UEFA Europa League final etched into our schedule we could now focus solely on securing the league title. We had six games left and we were at one moment in the season twenty points clear but then somehow, we had our lead cut to eleven points.
We won four, drew one and lost one in our final run in. For me the important thing was to seal the title as soon as possible. We drew against Chievo in a match that showed our fatigue following our European adventures. The next match was a home game against Napoli. We won 2-0 my dynamic duo of Dell’Anna and Mensah scoring the goals again. News came through that Juventus had drawn at the San Siro. This news would mean that we had secured the Serie A title.
Two days later we played Cagliari away. And we lost 1-0. I’ll be honest I expected as much as they team looked tired after celebrating hard during the previous few days.
After a quick rallying call for focus we then won our last three league matches. First was a 1-0 win against Inter, then a huge 3-1 home win against Juventus and finally a 2-0 win against Lazio.
Our main aim had been met, by beating our nearest rivals to the Serie A title. As you can see we won it pretty convincingly in the end as Juventus went off the boil and only collected six points from their final six matches. The won one, drew three and lost two.
Our final league match was only a few days before the Europa League Final. This gave us just a few days to prepare but bearing in mind I had shuffled the pack quite a bit in the final three matches we had a fairly fit and healthy squad to choose from for the final.
We kicked off and looked to impose ourselves into the game from the off with a swift attack down the right which lead to Mensah having the first shot of the game. We then pressed further and in the 9th minute Mina had a header cleared off the line following a corner, the clearance was not the best as it fell for Dell’Anna who scuffed his shot wide.
In the 13th minute Dell’Anna would then create a moment. He drove with the ball centrally after receiving it off Dalot from a throw in, he passed to Di Lauro but continued his run in to the box. Di Lauro passed to his left and found Vannini, who who take up the space created by Dell’Anna’s run and slot home a curling shot. GOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAALL!!!! 1-0.
Two minutes later we broke a Villareal attack on our left. Di Lauro passed forward to Dell Anna, who was still in our own half. Dell’Anna did the rest. He galloped forward with strength and purpose. His run stopped near the penalty box only to fire a thunderbolt of a strike at goal. GOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAALL!!!!!!!!! 2-0
The match then began to show life for both teams. In the 21st minute our gamble of playing Dell’Anna crumbled, he had to come off due to a lower leg injury. I sent youngster Davide Benazzi on as his replacement. Then, in the 24th minute Villareal played some short passes near the halfway line, for David Carmona to eventually find some confidence to drive down the right and cross the ball into the six-yard box. Where left winger Ivan Munoz was on hand to head the ball into the goal. (GOAL!) 2-1.
Just before halftime Villareal tried to mount an attack down their left for the ball to fizzle to Aphram Pan. Who then played a forward pass to Ganso. Ganso then played short ball top Van Den Engel.Our playmaker then dinked it back to Falco, who passed out wide to Mensah. Mensah then made some yards down our right to then pass the ball square to Van Den Engel. VDE then dribbled to the edge of the box before laying off to Vannini. Vannini then hit a first time shot that curled into the top right-hand corner of the goal. GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAL!!!!!!!!!! (3-1).
Half Time then came, and we gave some words of encouragement. The second half saw a lot of chances go begging for Torino. VDE hit the post with a tame effort and Benazzi had a number of chances stray wide.
In the 80th minute we pressed but the Villareal looked to break with speed through the centre of the pitch. Grgic would pick the ball up from the hallway line to dink a chipped pass to Domingo. Domingo was in acres of space and hit a firm shot goalwards that fizzed past Pasotti. (Goal). 3-2
We see the remaining ten minutes plus additional time out to only bloody win the Europa League!