Eleventh position, 22 points in the standings, a gap of five points from fourth place: this was the situation of Torino after the first derby took place earlier this season… The match was won by Juventus courtesy of a penalty converted by Cristiano Ronaldo. Today, though, the Granata is only three points from their dream of a sensational qualification in the Champions League (an event in which they participated only during 1976/77 campaign, at the time of the European Cup). And this prospect was made possible thanks to a series of high-profile results in the second half of the season, where Mazzarri's team has collected 29 points so far. Only Juventus (35) and Atalanta (31) have collected more.
Right now, Atalanta occupies the highly-sought-after fourth place that allows qualification into the Champions League. It was against the Nerazzurri, the Granata played one of their best games of the season. A 2-0 result was gained at Grande Torino. Shortly before the break, the scoreline was unlocked by Izzo, who directed a ball rejected from the post into the back of the net. In the first minute of the second half, Iago Falque invented a moment of great play with a dry dribble in the area before he unleashed a precise shot at the corner. The success on the Bergamo team came after a good draw obtained in Naples and it would soon become the first of three consecutive victories that would allow the Toro to leap forward in the standings.
Torino-Napoli ended 1-3 on match day five, and it represented a difficult moment in the team's season. Losing against the Azzurri at home may not be serious, but what certainly affected them negatively on that day was the approach. In the first 20 minutes, the Granata conceded two goals (Insigne and Verdi the scored), the first of which was a clear blow to a backline. And even in the second half, when Belotti narrowed the gap, the hope of securing a draw lasted only eight minutes, before Insigne wrapped up the scoreline in favour of the visitors. That day, Torino is on the bottom end of the standings. Since then, many things have changed.
In Italy’s last 2020 European qualifier match, Salvatore Sirigu was the one defending the national goal - a prize that was highly deserved by the 32-year-old Sardinian, who has truly enjoyed an impeccable season. He’s a goalkeeper who unites explosiveness with a great sense of position, and his recently pulled off saves have allowed Torino to gain decisive points, particularly in Florence and at home to Genoa, when he saved two close-range headed shots that looked almost certain to end in goals.