EIGHT winners from his last 10 European NAPs, Mark O'Haire (@MarkOHaire) returns to attack Sunday's Turin derby in Italy.
Torino v Juventus | Sunday 14:00 | BT Sport
The Turin derby is always a fiery affair and this Sunday’s showdown promises plenty as arguably Torino’s best team in decades take on a Juventus side that’s looked below-par in recent weeks.
It’s a fixture that’s been dominated by the Old Lady over the past 20 years. The visitors have taken top honours in 15 of the last 20 meetings, including nine of the past 10. Torino have claimed a solitary derby success since 1995.
The vulnerable Old Lady
But the Bianconeri have been far from their best in recent weeks, particularly in defence. Max Allegri’s men have managed only three clean sheets in 12 outings since October’s international break.
One was achieved in Juve’s midweek Champions League triumph over no-hopers Dynamo Zagreb, one was picked up a struggling Pescara and the other during a 1-0 triumph at Lyon when the Ligue 1 side had a penalty saved and dominated proceedings for large swathes of the encounter.
For Sunday’s trip to the Stadio Olimpico, the Bianconeri will be without three of their first-choice back-five. Leonardo Bonucci, Andrea Barzagli and Dani Alves are all out injured.
Meanwhile, Mehdi Benatia’s been hit and miss since arriving in Turin, Patrice Evra’s been filling in at centre-half and Giorgio Chiellini hasn’t looked himself since returning from his own injury issues.
A fortnight ago the Old Lady were abysmal when suffering a third loss in six Serie A away games, at Genoa. Juve shipped three first-half goals for the first time in domestic action since 2005 and that defensive fragility could prove their undoing.
Juve still pack a punch in attack
However, the Serie A champions remain four points clear at the top of the tree as they bid for a sixth successive title and were also the only European club to top their Champions League pool whilst leading their domestic league.
If defensive backline woes are biting, the table-toppers haven’t had such problems going forward. Allegri’s delighted to see Paulo Dybala return to the fold and with Mario Mandzukic and Gonzalo Higuain available, the Old Lady shouldn’t have a problem grabbing a goal.
Juventus have only failed to score in four of 26 road trips in Serie A since the start of last season and with Torino managing only five clean sheets at the Olimpico across the same sample, it’s almost impossible to oppose the Bianconeri getting on the scoresheet.
Goals on the agenda
So it’s the Both Teams To Score angle that appeals here at generous odds of 11/12 with 888.
It’s a selection that’s won in seven of eight games prior to Juventus’ midweek stroll against Dynamo and it looks a real runner considering the derby date pits two of the league’s top-three goalscoring sides together.
The past meetings have seen BTTS bank and despite a disappointing defeat at Sampdoria ending a four-match winning streak last weekend, Torino will be pumped to get one over their vulnerable visitors.
Torino's star-studded front-three
Star striker Andrea Belotti has signed a new contract and will lead the line alongside, Iago Falque and Adam Ljajic – the Granata’s fabulous front-three have performed superbly this season with the Bulls notching 19 goals in seven unbeaten home fixtures (W5-D2-L0).
The hosts have already beaten Roma (3-1) and drawn with Lazio (2-2) in front of their home supporters and Sinisa Mihajlovic’s men have been heavily involved in goal-heavy games since the start of the campaign.
Eight of Torino’s past 10 Serie A outings have featured at least three goals – the other two produced exactly two goals – and 10 of the last 11 Olimpico games have also broken the two-goal barrier.
Overwhelming BTTS trends
Looking purely at Both Teams To Score trends, the selection has proven profitable in 18/26 (69%) of the Bulls’ outings at the Stadio Olimpico since the start of last season and I’d expect a full throttle performance from the hosts.
Collectively, this bet has won in 20/30 (67%) of the pairs league contests in 2016/17 – that success rate suggests odds of around the 1/2 mark, making the 11/12 on offer a major value opportunity to attack.
Torino v Juventus – Both Teams To Score (11/12 888)