Nuno giving a mean evil eye to some shit going on during the press conference pre Torino game but there is humility there also and some trepidation underscored with a self confidence we have grown to love.
I’ve always had a soft spot for Lazio in Italian football something that absolutely horrifies many of my friends purely for the clubs connections to Fascism and a few other Isms. I don’t care about that stuff, what I do care about was the madness of their fans during games against rivals. There was often the odd punch up but for the most part there was a quasi religious feeling to any event that involved football. Italian football in those days was viewed by me often nursing a heavy hangover on a Sunday afternoon stuck in front of channel 4.
So we are moving into those kinds of football now. Years away from the concentration camp atmospheres of Barnsley away, it’s almost sexual this whole zeitgeist of the European experience and one that confuses me a bit too so let’s have a look and a learn together about what Thursdays match might all be about eh?
First of all it’s being Refereed by a Portugeezer Mr Dias and most of his assistants are also Portugeezers. This is good, it means that he will love us more than them seeing as we have half the Portuguese side in the team. Much hilarity ensues, I mean I’m not saying that he is going to give us any love, in fact he might decidedly not love us. I don’t care, at least he will understand the football we are playing from a Portuguese sense anyway. Might be a plus. There have already been some big noises on the Torino fans Twitter pages and on their forums. Thank God for Google translate. “Fuck Mothering these national idiots playing strange friends of Wolfs this is not the way” and other dysfunctional shit. But what about Torino?
They are a bloody good side mate for truth. This season they have already seen a draw with a bloody good Juventus side, and battered Lazio 3-1. It’s still early days for them but already they have navigated a lack lustre Europa League opposition with some definitive results including a 5-0 score against Shakhtyor but interestingly only managed to draw on the return ‘home’ match. Each game was a chilled affair split with some really weird moments from Torino as they I suspect ran out of things to do…how can I explain that better? They didn’t seem arsed to be honest.
Mazarri is their Coach and he is carrying a 45.31% win ratio. He likes attacking play and we saw that with….hang about, the fucking Elton Gollums themselves! Watford! So he is one of those tight suit Lizard managers of course, but he knows how to play and coach a game for sure. What can we expect? Fast bursts from Midfield into the final third, they tend to play wide and cross balls in for some of their necks to get on the end of. I watch about 15 of these moves during the game against Juventus. They haven’t met Jonny though. I think he will be integral to our game tonight, I hope he plays, but what do I know? I can just see Jonny chopping down any chances they have at getting that ball looping across the box.
I’m reading and watching Belotti and Berenguer their main dudes of the moment. Belotti is a weird one, he’s the Captain. Good in the air and capable of whacking absolute pearlers towards the Onion bag when he fancies it. Not great in moving though I notice. He seems to have a Strikers flare for sure but often tends to have some sort of penchant for fannying around with the ball a lot before he knows what to do with it. Is he one of those ‘tens’? I dunno, seems like it to me. Definite holder up of the ball while he waits around for everybody else to catch up. Boly and Coady will zip him up good, just don’t let him have a crack on the edge of the box. Thunderfoot.
Berenguer is a Spanish winger, a little whippy bastard very fond of just jinking into the box when nobody is looking, waiting for an errant ball and making life uncomfortable. He’s very much in the same mold I suppose as Jota but obviously not as good but he seems to have settled into some sort of comfortable role under Mazzari. He’s a good crosser of the ball and will often go for the nearest post for some reason. He’s often replaced via substitutions by Simone Zaza another quite tricky dude who’s a little quicker but a bit more clunky when it comes to getting a ball back or chasing a game.
Iago Falque is often the playmaker for the attacks. Wand of a pass on him for sure loves to float accurate balls into the box for Belotti to get on the end of. I’m feeling that Torino like to get the ball into the box utilising big choppy crosses into the danger area. Rui will be happy, I don’t mind Patricio in the air and Boly will not be messing around if one does float in.
I’m not going to wax extreme lyrics about what Torino have to offer in terms of a player by player break down. Just pick out a few faces I’ve noticed playing certain shapes in YouTube videos of matches. This is going to be a tough as fuck match however other people see it but remember we are really an unknown quantity for these teams. I don’t think Walter Mazzari will be looking forwards to playing against a Nuno team, in fact I will bet on it. I’m expecting Vinagre and Cutrone to have a role here not because of squad rotation but because Cutrone especially will have experience on his side when it comes to playing teams like this. I’m expecting Vinagre simply because Torino don’t like rapid attacks. They often seem a little confused by rapid movements into the final third and the defence tends to be stoic and a little statuesque for my liking. Also if you tend to play the high press attacking game we are good at then Torino will start to crack. Many of their games I’ve seen have a sense of when they attack they look slick and assured but as soon as a team starts to give them a little back they tend to fold a little and retreat back until they are playing some sort of Brighton game where they wait for a break or a gap in the attacking groove and then press forward on mass.
What do I predict on Thursday? It’s going to be tough of course, this is where the mettle of the Wolves Nuno nexus gets its teeth into the whole Euro experience but…there is nothing here to be afraid of by any sense. They have a good organised defence, a decent if unimaginative midfield and a half decent attack too. But there is truly nothing to be worried about too much, Nuno has confidence it will be a good well fought game, Nuno code for there is nothing to be massively afraid of unless it’s like playing Brighton or Huddersfield which I see this Torino team as being like…maybe Everton at a push.
We play beautiful football that the Italians of course will fall in love with because it’s all about beauty to them, and a little blood too. Little old Wolverhampton is a moot point…we were here forming European games when these games were not heard of. We were there at the start and don’t forget too that we were the Champions of the World once. We will be again, but I see this as a start if you like, a beginning of something entirely different to what we are used to as Wolves fans. I will take a draw quite happily and then in the cauldron of Molineux we will finish them off. It’s early Euro days yet and we still have to get our heads around the travel and the conditioning of players, their welfare and their capacity to play the football they do. If we extend our experience in the competition then the training staff behind Nuno will have played the perfect part. Right…time for the traditional search for an illegal stream. Gew on me Babbies.