Torino's European Dream Gathers Pace with a Draw at Milan

Richard HallContributor IFebruary 4, 2014

Torino gain a well-earned point at Milan.
Torino gain a well-earned point at Milan.Associated Press

It would be foolhardy, and more to the point, absurd, to draw any comparisons between this combative and effective Torino side and "Il Grande Torino" of the 1940s. It perhaps is not too much of a stretch however to draw some comparisons to this side and the team that last reached European competition in the early 1990s.

In the late 1980s, Torino had been relegated to Serie B. This proved devastating for fans of Toro as it was only the second time ever that this had happened.

After the shock, however, came the revival, and under the stewardship of Emiliano Mondonico, his side started its ascendency back to the top flight. The squad was young, and it played stylish football, and by the 1991-92 season, it was beating the likes of Real Madrid in the UEFA Cup.

Since this era, Torino have had a torrid time and have seen the depths of Italy’s second tier more than once. Now, as an established top-flight club again, they have worked hard to build a team that this season looks to be on the verge of pushing on to the next level.

On Saturday night at the San Siro, the Granata pulled off another superb result in collecting a point that Milan had to salvage. This leaves them in seventh spot, level on points with an Inter side that are in disarray and only two points behind newly promoted and equally impressive Hellas Verona.

The reason for their success so far seems to be evenly distributed around the pitch with an overreliance on one or two players certainly not being a factor.

The goalkeeper, Daniele Padelli, has had a superb season, and his performance against Milan continued to show the huge leaps he is taking in improving his game. Defensively, Kamil Glik has stepped up to the plate after recent departures thrust extra responsibility onto his head whilst Matteo Darmian has also looked more and more effective.

The midfield, too, is allowing Torino to prove effective with Alexander Farnerud, Matteo Brighi and Omar El Kaddouri all having very solid seasons.

The jewels in the crown are the two frontmen who have grabbed a very credible 21 goals between them. Ciro Immobile (11 goals) and Alessio Cerci (10 goals) have stated their positions as Torino’s stand-out players and potentially World Cup-bound forwards.

Tactically, their coach Giampiero Ventura has masterminded a style of football that is not only attractive to watch but is solid defensively, and it has enabled Torino to collect 21 points out of their last 30. With games against Bologna at home and Hellas Verona away, the Granata will be hoping that they can weather these ties before coming into contact with fierce rivals Juventus on Feb. 23.

European qualification is far from certain, but it is not out of sight by any means. They are not conceding many goals, and they have forwards who are certainly on form. What is certain is that this Toro side has fight in them, and Ventura will insist that this level of performance continues.

The glory days may not be something that will be returning to this side of Turin in the immediate future, but for this season at least, their fans have seen a side that has the bull by the horns.