Serie A Week 25
19 Feb 2017 (17.00 UK)
Roma – Torino
Stadio Olimpico

Roma vs Torino Preview and Prediction

In September a dynamic, exciting Torino blew Roma away with an attacking performance for the ages, Iago Falque getting revenge on his former employers with a brace to win 3-1.

Months later, Sinisa Mihajlovic’s men are still thrilling – when they’re not getting bogged down by Empoli, or when they’re earning four points from their first six outings of the calendar year.

Even their maiden win against Pescara saw Urbano Cairo’s men surrender three easy goals to the visitors, mere minutes after going 5-0 up and getting to see Coach Massimo Oddo fight off the tears on the bench.

It’s a major red flag that a Mihajlovic team has conceded a seventh-worst 36 Serie A goals in 24 games, compared to 32 at this stage last season (bang in the middle of the Granata’s rut) and 25 in the campaign before that.

For someone who stabilized Milan and Sampdoria’s defences in his past experiences, one wouldn’t be surprised if the Serbian was secretly waterboarding his back line, especially when one considers that the Granata have only conceded eleven of those goals in the first half.

They’ve thrown away precious leads, allowing Milan to come back from two down, as well as four other teams in their last 10 games. Unsurprisingly, Torino didn’t win any of them, the Rossoneri even knocking former Coach Mihajlovic out of the Coppa Italia.

Watching Andrea Belotti lose his rag when Iago Falque fluffed a penalty was bad enough, but it was even worse when Marco Benassi admitted that Torino had no fixed penalty taker. Only Pescara have missed more this season, five to the Granata’s four.

Visiting Roma is hardly going to be a cakewalk – the Giallorossi are flying high after a thrilling 4-0 thumping of Villarreal, proof that Edin Dzeko is back to his best after going through his own spot kick psychosis.

Last month’s 3-2 loss to Sampdoria excepted, this Lupa has become a ruthless killer, one that can count on an improving Kevin Strootman and on one of the discoveries of the last few weeks, wing-back Emerson.

Though his anti-Juve bombast took over the front pages, Radja Nainggolan’s exceptional form: he’s got 12 Serie A goals over the last two seasons, all netted under Luciano Spalletti. Beyond cleverly leveraging the Belgian’s preternatural ability to find unmarked channels, the Tuscan gaffer is resting Diego Perotti, who has only scored penalties (seven) this season, and has appeared sluggish of late.

Mihajlovic said that his men “were capable of anything” last week. One gets the feeling that, in Roma’s case, this sentiment has nothing but positive connotations. Torino’s? Not so much.

Player to Watch: Arlind Ajeti (Torino) – Counting on so many former Romanisti (Adem Ljajic, Iago, Leandro Castan) to spring a surprise at the Olimpico is a bit of a stretch when the Granata midfield is struggling to tackle, Daniele Baselli being given the hairdryer again of late and dropped in favour of Joel Obi. With the Nigerian out injured, one wonders how the newly-forged partnership of Emiliano Moretti and Ajeti can keep one of Europe’s most prolific scorers (Edin Dzeko) quiet? Ignore the scoresheet: despite scoring, Albanian international Ajeti was arguably responsible for all three of Pescara’s goals last week.

Form Guide: Roma (W W L W W), Torino (W D D L D)

Last season: Roma 3-2 Torino

Stat fact: Torino have only wn twice on the road this season, and that was to lowly Crotone and Palermo. Their opponents, on the other hand, have long forgotten the dark Rudi Garcia days, having not lost a single Serie A game at the Olimpico since Luciano Spalletti took over.

Top Tip: The Roma win, with the handicap. Remember the beatdown Napoli put on these guys? It’s hard seeing this one going any differently, Europe or no Europe.

Roma (probable): Szczesny; Rudiger, Fazio, Manolas; B. Peres, Strootman, De Rossi, Emerson; Nainggolan, Salah; Dzeko

Suspended: None

Torino (probable): Hart; Zappacosta, Ajeti, Moretti, Barreca; Benassi, Lukic, Baselli; Iago Falque, Belotti, Ljajic

Suspended: None