Still in the thick of a relegation fight, Torino host drop-bound Parma on Monday night, at Stadio Olimpico Grande Torino.
Eight points from their last five games has helped the Granata stay in touch with the other clubs around the dreaded dotted line, while the visitors have accepted their fate will be demotion after a run of four straight defeats.
Still precariously placed with six matches to go – as they still have a game in hand on their nearest relegation rivals – much-improved Torino have finally found their feet on home soil, just as their campaign reaches its climax.
Both of Il Toro’s home wins in Serie A this season have come since the start of March, with current coach Davide Nicola in charge. They now face a downtrodden Parma side – who have all but been condemned to second-tier football next term – having beaten both Sassuolo and Roma, plus drawn against old foes Juventus, in three of their last four games in Turin.
Though they were unable to pick up a third home success last time out against Napoli, it is apparent that Nicola’s men have forged a clear identity in recent weeks and will be confident of posting a third win in five outings against opponents deep in disarray.
Star striker Andrea Belotti has suffered a dry spell of late – drawing another blank in the 2-0 reverse last week – as his team were unable to recover from a sluggish start, with Tiemoue Bakayoko’s spectacular early goal being followed by Napoli’s second just minutes later.
The Euros-bound forward may need to find his shooting boots sharpish, as Torino are yet to face Milan and Lazio before the season’s end, and with a potential winner-takes-all encounter with Benevento set for the final day, there remains much at stake.
This week, the Granata will also want to overcome a bizarre record of failure on one particular weekday: they have only won once in their last 12 league games played on a Monday.
Now staring into the abyss, as an inevitable return to Serie B looms later this month, Parma will rue missed opportunities in their failed campaign, after effectively dropping 27 points from winning positions in 2020-21. Incidentally, Torino (with 25) are the closest side to the Crociati in that regard.
The latest in a long line of setbacks came in an entertaining but ultimately fruitless 4-3 defeat at home to fellow basement boys Crotone last weekend, as Roberto D’Aversa saw his men slip 11 points adrift of safety with just five games to go.
As the bottom two went head-to-head with Crotone knowing that a loss would seal their fate, some characteristically slapdash defending allowed the Calabrians to inch closer to Parma in the standings – closing a week in which the Gialloblu had already blown a lead to lose by the same scoreline against Cagliari.
After those results in crucial encounters versus those just above them, Parma have only earned 11 points against teams currently in the bottom half of the table – at least six fewer than any other Serie A side.
To build on that paltry tally this week, D’Aversa will have to motivate his dispirited troops to better their 3-0 loss against Torino the last time the clubs met, at the start of the year.
Torino Serie A form:
Parma Serie A form: