Torino attempt to end 24-year wait for away derby win
The last time that Torino won away to Juventus in the Derby della Mole, the likes of Didier Deschamps, Antonio Conte and Roberto Baggio were playing for their opponents while current Juve forward Cristiano Ronaldo was still at school.
That was 24 years ago and if Torino are ever going manage a repeat, then Friday’s meeting at the Allianz stadium would seem as good a chance as any.
Juventus have already wrapped up an eighth successive Serie A title while Torino have lost only one in their last 14 games as they chase an improbable first-ever appearance in the Champions League.
Coached by the perennially angry Walter Mazzarri, who has been sent off five times this season, Torino last week stunned AC Milan 2-0 to go sixth, three points outside the top four where they need to finish, with four games left.
Torino played in the old European Cup in 1976-77 when they reached the second round but have never taken part in the modern version.
Since completing a double over Juventus in 1994/95, they have beaten their glamorous neighbours only once more, a 2-1 win in April 2015 at their own Stadio Olimpico.
They did, however, come agonisingly close to an away win two seasons ago when Juventus needed an injury-time goal to draw 1-1 afterTorino played the last half hour with 10 men following a contentious sending-off.
“We mustn’t be afraid, we need the points,” said Torino midfielder Armando Izzo. “We can’t be overawed by Cristiano Ronaldo and the rest of their forwards. If we want to do something special, we will have to put them out of our minds.”
This week’s match has been moved forward to Friday as the original scheduling for Saturday was on the 70th anniversary of the Superga air disaster, when 18 Torino players and officials were among 31 people killed.
The race for Champions League places has provided a compelling end to an otherwise lacklustre Serie A season.
Atalanta currently occupy fourth spot with 59 points but only four points separate them from eighth-placed Lazio with Roma (58), Torinoand AC Milan (both 56) sandwiched in between.
Second-placed Napoli (70) points have also qualified while Inter (62) look set to join them, although their cushion over Atalanta is now down to three points.
In other games, Claudio Ranieri’s Roma visit struggling Genoa on Sunday, looking to extend their unbeaten run to six games, while AC Milan host Bologna on Monday.
Like Torino, Atalanta have never played in the Champions League and face another key match on Sunday when they visit Lazio who are still not out of the race despite several hiccups.
“It’s clear now though that if we win all our remaining matches the other teams can’t catch us,” said Atalanta coach Gian Piero Gasperini.
“We remain confident as we are playing with a desire and a belief that we can do something special.” (Writing by Brian Homewood Editing by Toby Davis)