Marco Giampaolo’s first game coaching Torino FC at the Stadio Olimpico Grande Torino came with a starting debut for the Granata for Kosovan international Mërgim Vojvoda, as well as Nicola Murru, against Gian Piero Gasperini’s Atalanta. Torino played the 4-3-1-2 formation for the second consecutive week, with Bremer and Nicolas Nkoulou as the centre backs, and the aforementioned Vojvoda and Murru as the fullbacks; the Granata defence hoping to keep out the dynamic Orobici attack.
Torino started on the front foot, and in the 7th minute, an error at the back from Atalanta gave Simone Zaza a chance, but his left footed shot thundered against the crossbar.
In the 11th minute, Tomás Rincón, the General, played a delightful through ball to the captain, Andrea “Gallo” Belotti, and the Torino captain made no mistake, scoring with his left foot to give Torino the lead.
The lead only lasted 90 seconds however, for Atalanta captain Alejandro “Papu” Gomez’s shot from outside the box beat Granata goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu in the 13th minute to equalise the score at 1-1.
Atalanta had a chance to take the lead in the 16th minute, with a Robin Gosens cross headed over the bar by Duván Zapata. Again in the 19th minute, Gosens got around the Torino defence but fired high with his left boot.
Atalanta took the lead in the 21st minute, with Papu Gomez’s brilliant through ball fired into the bottom corner by Colombian Luis Muriel. It was a brilliant goal that dumbfounded Granata fans with its quality.
More heartbreak for the Granata ensued in the 42nd minute, with another Papu Gomez cross finding Hans Hateboer at the back post for a 3-1 Atalanta lead. However, moments later, Belotti headed in his second golazo to bring Torino back into the game down 3-2 just before half time, the Granata captain single handedly keeping Torino in the match.
The players and fans caught their breath at half time, having seen a brilliant first half with five sumptuous, quality goals, and fast, open play.
The second half had barely begun when Atalanta had another chance, with Luis Muriel shooting high and wide from another delightful Papu Gomez through ball. In the 53rd minute, Torino midfielder Alejandro Bergenuer made a strong run but his shot was saved by Atalanta goalkeeper Marco Sportiello.
Atalanta kept on coming: in the 53rd minute Hateboer headed wide from a clear opportunity; in the 54th minute Martin De Roon shot past Sirigu to give Atalanta a 4-2 lead. The Granata simply could not keep out the Orobici tidal wave of attack.
The Orobici shut the game down, starving Torino of chances, and in the end, Torino’s fast start and at times promising play was for nothing, with Atalanta running out 4-2 winners.
Also worrying for Torino was an injury to Rincón, substituted in the 80th minute, handing a Granata debut for 23 year old Jacopo Segre.
From a fan’s perspective, it was extremely frustrating to watch the Torino Ragazzi outplayed by such a wide margin, Il Gallo Belotti the only man keeping Torino from a 4-0 or worse defeat. Coach Marco Giampaolo said before the game that he wanted to see how Torino matched up against one of the best teams in Serie A; obviously, the Granata have a long way to go to be of the same calibre as Champions League playing clubs, and probably even Europa League playing clubs. However, we must congratulate Atalanta and Gian Piero Gasperini for the way they play, and the beautiful Calcio they put forward on the pitch week in, week out. Papu Gomez is a joy to watch; only us Granata fans wish he wouldn’t perform so well against our beloved Ragazzi.
Next week on Saturday, Torino face a must win clash away against Genoa at the Luigi Ferraris Stadium, while Atalanta have two more games in the space of a week: away to Lazio on Wednesday, and home against Cagliari on Sunday.