Tuesday, October 28 th, 2014
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Cerci-Immobile: Torino's wonder season with their two enfant terribles
The 66-year-old Giampiero Ventura is forming one of the strongest teams in Serie A this season, they play with an offensive version of the 4-4-2 formation
by Farbod Matinroshan
Torino currently lie in the 10th place after an impressive win over Livorno last Saturday. They may have lost lose some points in the last weeks but they are definitely among the surprises in this season. What are the keys to such an unexpected success?

Cerci-Immobile, enfant terribles. Alessio Cerci and Ciro Immobile have earned the reputation of one of the most feared attacking combinations in Serie A this season. With Immobile's hat-trick to Livorno, the Granata has jumped at the top of the goal scorers table - together with Carlos Tevez - with 16 goals. They have scored 27 of the 42 goals for Torino so far, and are literally responsible for any goal Ventura’s team scores. They both are dangerous and fast.

Cerci is more of an attacking winger, pretty much where Lionel Messi used to play in his first season in Frank Rijkaard’s Barcelona. He is a fast and skillful lefty on the right wing, who can break through the defense and cut inside to create opportunities just outside the box. He is not a classic winger who goes for a cross.

Cerci – who grew up in Roma's youth team - also has the club’s most assist this season with 8. He is one of the stars of Serie A and is also playing for Italy under Cesare Prandelli. On the other hand Ciro Immobile – owned by Juventus - is a fast and explosive forward who is good in the air and with his feet. He can dribble and create his own chances, not a classic Italian forward, but more like a Fernando Torres who likes to be involved in the game and not wait for the ball.

Immobile is also good when they recover the ball in the defense. He can keep the ball and give his teammates a chance to get out of defensive areas and create their own chances.

How they attack? Ventura’s Torino is not only a counter-attacking team, even though they have fast players like Immobile, Cerci and the Belgian-Moroccan Omar El Kaddouri. They like to start their attack from the defense, keeping possession and passing the ball between their two center backs and their left back.

The right back, usually Matteo Darmian or Nikola Maksimović, remain in the opposite half to receive the ball and then find Cerci on the right wing. The right side is the most important area in Torino’s attack where Cerci combines with the right back or Immobile or even go alone to break though the opposition’s defense.

If Torino’s players don’t find a way from the right, they change the play and bring the ball to the left side which is the weaker side of Torino’s attack and Cerci will move to the center to get the ball. Immobile moves to get the ball and find triangle formation to attack.

What doesn’t work in Torino’s attack? First of all the plan is to find Cerci, so to stop Torino’s attack, other teams should stop Cerci first, defenders should track him down and follow him man-to-man to prevent him from getting the ball.

But, if he changes his position the defender shouldn’t follow him and abandon his position, allowing Cerci to get the ball. Once he is with the ball, defenders should force him to go to his right as he prefers to go to his left, very similar to how teams defend Bayern Munich star Arjen Robben.

Another way to stop Cerci with the ball is to double up with two players: the way Juventus did in their last meeting.
Another problem with Toro's attack attack is when they lose the ball they easily concede counter-attacks. Their right back usually plays so high on the pitch that leaves two center backs and left back alone. Defensive midfielders are not fast enough to chase the ball and track back, which makes them vulnerable against a counter-attacking team.

Another problem is that they like to start their attack from their defense, but if the opponents forwards pressure their defense, the defenders can make a mistake and lose the ball just in front of their box. It happened in the match against Bologna when Torino’s right back lost the ball just outside of the box and the Felsinei scored.

How they defend? Like their attacking style, the Granata like to defend with all their players, that is one of the strong points in Ventura’s team. The players come back and make a wall in front of their box. Their opponents usually go for a cross, but the likes of Emiliano Moretti and Kamil Glik are very powerful in the air and can stop opponents from scoring.

What doesn’t work in their defense? Juventus exploited Torino’s problem in defense. When they defend and stay in their half, Torino’s two forwards, usually Cerci and Immobile, don’t pressure the ball. Juventus is one of those teams who like to create their attack from the defense and central midfielder, Andrea Pirlo who against Torino played freely without anyone pressing him. He created chance after chance with his precise passes.

After all Ventura’s team is very well organized, they are solid in defense and in attack Torino’s players move the ball fast, find each other easily and are very good at passing the ball.

If they don’t give away lots of free kicks in front of their box, try not to rely solely on Cerci and make their game a one-man show, they are hard to beat for any team in Serie A and will be among the teams in contention for next years Europa League.

Monday, March 24 th, 2014
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