17 May 2024


Form, characteristics and individual players: the lowdown on Jurić's side

After the 5-1 thrashing of Cagliari at San Siro, AC Milan are now guaranteed of a second-placed finish and are looking to end the season in the best possible way. Matchday 37 sees the Rossoneri on the road at Torino on Saturday 18 May at 20:45 CEST, in what will be the last away match of the season for Stefano Pioli's men. The Granata are a tough side to face and are still dreaming of a European place for next season. The hard-fought victory in Verona put Toro back on track after a period of five without success (3D, 2L), the last four of which ended without even scoring.

Going forward is certainly not Jurić's side's strong point, but they are, instead, well-skilled at making the game scrappy, aiming to keep things tight at the back. It has largely been successful, especially on home soil: Torino have kept a clean sheet in eight of their last nine home league games, including the last five, with the Granata, thus, having the chance to have six home clean sheets in a row for the first time in their history in Serie A.

Defend above all else, it is said. Torino fully reflects the football conceived by their coach Ivan Jurić, who as a player was hardy midfielder in Serie A. Nine 0-0 draws have arisen from this mentality, a record of goalless draws in Europe's current top-five leagues. Furthermore, we have to go back to 1988/89 to find at least one Serie A team with more goalless draws in a single campaign: Hellas Verona (13), Lazio (twelve) and Pescara (ten). In short, the clean sheet appears to be a real mission for the Toro, especially on home soil, considering the 13 clean sheets collected in eighteen matches at the Olimpico Grande Torino this season, a record in Europe's top-five leagues in 2023/24. Furthermore, only two teams in the history of Serie A have kept 14 clean sheets in home matches in a season in the competition: Foggia in 1965/66 and Modena in 1947/48.

If Toro's season has been a success, so far, from a defensive point of view, the same can't be said about its performance at the other end of the pitch: the side from Piedmont have the third worst record for attempted shots on target (107), with only Empoli (110 ) and Salernitana (113) having made fewer attempts, and together with Verona they have the fewest goalscorers, just eleven. Numbers that translate into the fourth best defence in the league, with just 32 goals conceded and the third best data for Expected Goals conceded (33.16 xGA), but also with the fourth worst attack of the league with just 33 goals scored.

Certainly the player to watch out in the Granata lineup is Duvan Zapata, who has already five goals against AC Milan in Serie A to his name. King of headers, with seven this season, ahead of the Rossoneri's Olivier Giroud and Milan Djurić's six, the Colombian centre-forward has been involved in 45% of Torino's goals in Serie A this season (fifteen out of 33 scored by the side from Piedmont, eleven goals and four assists), a record percentage for any one player for his team in the current campaign. This last stat, in particular, underlines the importance of the former Atalanta player in Toro's formation, who in the three matches, with the striker absent, have collected just one point.

However, Zapata has Raoul Bellanova to thank for a good number of his goals following five assists in the current Serie A: no player has made more to a single teammate in the competition, a record equal to Weston McKennie for Dusan Vlahović. The Rossoneri academy product overall has a total of six assists in the current campaign, a record on par with Federico Dimarco and Giovanni Di Lorenzo, as well as being in some ways a historic figure: in the last twenty Serie A seasons (since 2004/05), no Torino defender has made more in a single edition of the competition (Cristian Ansaldi also had six in 2020/21). The trusted leader at the back is Alessandro Buongiorno. The Granata captain has made the most ball interceptions (64) in the league, as well as winning the most duels (357) in the last two Serie A seasons.

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