On 26th June, 2005 Torino celebrated their return to Serie A after two consecutive seasons in Serie B, but the joy was short-lived as excessive debts led to the denial of their entry and just one month later Torino Calcio filed for bankruptcy. This was another sad episode in the cluba s history. The club is well known for the golden years of Grande Torino, one of the most dominant sporting sides in football history, who still hold the record for the maximum number of goals (125) scored in a single season across all leagues in Europe. At their peak in 1949, the team supplied the Azzurri with 10 of their 11 starting players; sometimes all the 11 players to start for Italy were Torino players. Such things normally come to an end with players moving to other clubs or retirement but in Torinoa s case the end was tragic as the Superga Disaster occurred. A plane carrying 31 people including the entire Grande Torino lineup crashed into the Basilica of Superga killing all aboard. At the funeral, millions of people showed up to pay respect for the fallen heroes.

The following years were tough and Torino finally succumbed to their first relegation in 1959 although they bounced back immediately in 1960. Their struggle to reach the pinnacle suffered another major blow when Gigi Meroni, named the a Italian George Besta died in a car accident in 1964. Still Torino fought on and finally won another Scudetto in 1976. They enjoyed a successful run until the 1988-89 season where a title-challenging team inexplicably suffered relegation for only their second time in history. An immediate return and a deep run in the Uefa Cup led Torino to their first European Final against Ajax in 1992, where over the course of two legs Torino lost 2-2 on away goals, hitting the post three times in the second leg over in Amsterdam. The summer of 1992-93 saw the club engulfed in massive financial problems which led to rapid selling of their star players and in 1994-95 they were once again relegated. The team rose again in 2001, but two years later in 2003 they returned to the Serie B and in 2005 the club finally fell after years of poor financial management and disappointment. Torino Calcio was dead. Or so most of Italian Football thought, until Urbano Cairo led the revival and the club, renamed Torino F.C returned to the Serie B. After bouncing between the two divisions once again, Torino hired Giampiero Ventura in 2011 who brought immediate success following promotion in the 2011-2012 season. The side managed to retain their place in Serie A and then the unthinkable happened. Led by Alessio Cerci and Ciro Immobile, Torino finished in seventh spot last year after Cerci missed a crucial penalty in the final match of the season which would have guaranteed a spot in Europe. That was until Parma were denied entry following unpaid taxes and Torino returned to European Competition after a 12-year absence.

Tough Start To The New Campaign

The Granata surprised everyone with their surge into European contention last season but initially struggled this term after selling Serie A’s Capocannoniere Ciro Immobile, to Borussia Dortmund. As deadline day approached, Alessio Cerci departed for Spanish champions Atletico Madrid, the only player to reach double figures in goals and assists last season. The second-best strike partnership in the league, and the most prolific in Torino’s history since Francesco Graziani and Paolo Pulici fired the team to its last Scudetto in 1976, were gone. Torino failed to find the back of the net in the first four games this season coupled with missed penalties from Marcelo Larrondo, Omar El Kaddouri and Sanchez Mino. In the midst of this barren run, Italian media claimed Ventura had offered to resign following their 2-1 defeat to HJK Helsinki in Finland. Cairo intervened and promised signings in January. Torino didna t win a single league game in November and ended the year down in 14th place.

How The Tables Turned In 2015..

Since the New Year, however, things have changed remarkably. At one stage they took the same number of points as leaders Juventus, whom they gave a mighty scare in the Derby Della Mole back in winter which has been talked about as a turning point in their season. That match will live long in the memory for a very special moment when Torino fullback Bruno Peres ended a 12-year wait for a Granata derby goal (Benoit Cauet scored one last in 2002). Their extraordinary run of 12 league games without defeat was their best in the top flight since 1977. Sitting in seventh place without Cerci and Immobile and with the added fixture congestion of playing in Europe, it has to be said Ventura has done a remarkable job. Torinoa s injury time winner at San Siro in late January was their first win over Inter there in 27 years. They followed it with their biggest home win in 14 years, smashing Champions League-chasing Sampdoria 5-1. Quagliarela has been finding the back of net regularly while the addition of Maxi Lopez in January has given them the potency which was missing at the beginning of the campaign. Defence has actually been Toroa s best form of attack. Not only do they have the fifth best defence in Serie A, but the defenders have contributed to 60% of the goals. Kamil Glik is the most prolific centre-back in Europe; six of his eight strikes have been headers. The deliveries put in by Torinoa s wing-backs Bruno Peres and particularly Matteo Darmian, have been of the highest standard.

First Serie A side ever to beat Bilbao at The San Mames

Torino might well have become the trailblazers for Italian football and possibly changed the way Serie A clubs apprehend the Europa League. Torinoa s attitude in both legs against Athletic Bilbao was the perfect way to approach such a difficult tie and they created history by becoming the first Italian team to conquer the mythical Catedral. It reminded us of Genoa, who under wily manager Osvaldo Bagnoli, broke the spell Anfield had over Serie A clubs in 1992 when the Grifone secured a 2-1 win in the UEFA Cup quarterfinals. Incidentally Torino reached the final that year, losing to Louis van Gaal’s Ajax. Nobody gave them a chance when the fixtures were drawn. Bilbaoa s record against Italian teams stood at played seven, won six, drawn one; only Marcello Lippi’s Juventus had left undefeated in 1998 prior to this game against Toro. Napoli had lost 3-1 to them in August earlier this season. But Ventura preached no fear before the game. “It’s a football stadium. There aren’t any crocodiles out there on the pitch.” Torino were well prepared for this tie and had little trouble when Ernesto Valverde chose to abandon his tried and trusted 4-2-3-1 to mirror Torino, shaping up in a 3-5-2. Similarly when Athletic changed to a 4-3-3 in the final 20 minutes, there was no panic. The applause at the end from a crowd of 50,000 was richly deserved and it was arguably Torinoa s best moment this season. It was a moment of personal satisfaction for Ventura as the core of the team (Matteo Darmian, Kamil Glik and Beppe Vives) had been with him since his appointment three and a half years ago, when the club was down in Serie B.

Ventura is finding a way to make his team tick as a unit and the hard work put in on the training ground to produce a threat from set pieces is evidently paying off, given that centre-back Kamil Glik is second in the cluba s scoring charts with five goals. At the Panchina da Oro in 2010, Jose Mourinho claimed that he voted for Giampiero Ventura for the Golden Bench award. The Special One was impressed after Venturaa s former side Bari had held the soon-to-be-treble winners 2-2 at the San Nicola. Other coaches in Italy will be seriously considering writing Venturaa s name on their ballot paper which will be an overdue recognition for this overachieving tactician.

Future Looks Bright

Torino may soon have a new stadium as the progress of the new Filadelfia Stadium project took a big leap with the selection of the company to complete construction. The committee in charge of selecting the firm to go ahead with the new project announced the winner. The winning bid was from CS Construction of Asti, Italy. Construction is estimated to begin in September or October, with an estimated completion time frame of 387 days. The new Filadelfia could be ready to host matches by the end of 2016. For a club which has continually seen tragedy in the face of their efforts, and almost been torn apart after the poor financial management of previous owners, it seems as if Torino are finally returning to the top of Italian football, a place which they perhaps should have never truly left.