Could Torino seal a surprise Champions League spot in Serie A?

Andrea Belotti

Unbeaten run has put them right in contention

The Serie A title race was essentially done and dusted months ago, but the battle for a top-four spot could rage on until the final day of the campaign.

With Juventus top, and Napoli and Inter Milan seemingly settled into second and third respectively, there are five teams in the running for the fourth and final Champions League place.

Torino’s 2-0 win over AC Milan means they’re firmly in the mix now. But a tough fixture list means our traders have them back at 33/1 to secure a top-four berth.  Can they pull it off and qualify for the Champions League for the first time?

Mazzarri magic

After rough spells at Inter and Watford, Walter Mazzarri has reminded critics of how effective his methods can be this season.

His Torino side have only scored 44 league goals, the lowest tally of any side in the top-half. But they’re meticulously drilled at the back.

Il Toro have only conceded 29 goals in the league, with Salvatore Sirigu very impressive in goal. Their solid defence means that they don’t need to score that many goals – they’ve won six games 1-0, while 11 of their 14 wins in total have come without conceding.

Is Belotti almost back to his best?

Mazzarri’s approach also seems well suited to Andrea Belotti up front. Belotti is a battering ram of a striker and his muscular approach makes him ideal for Torino’s direct attacking play.

He may not match his goalscoring exploits of 2016-17, but the club captain has chipped in with a healthy return of 12 league goals this term.

With Belotti at one end and a stern defence at the other, Mazzari can be flexible with his midfield. He tends to make specific changes to counter whoever they face.

Can they maintain their momentum?

Torino have hauled themselves into top-four contention with a run of one defeat in their last 14 outings. That includes wins over both Milan sides and Atalanta, as well as a 0-0 draw away at Napoli.

But there are big tests to come, starting with Friday’s Derby della Mole against Juventus on Friday. The Old Lady are 4/6 favourites, but the recently-crowned champions have only won one of their last five fixtures in all competitions.

Torino will fancy their chances against their illustrious rivals, especially after a first win over AC Milan since 2001.

If they come through that, winnable games against Sassuolo and Empoli await, before a potentially decisive final-day meeting with Lazio.

The Turin club will need the clubs around them to drop points to pull it off, but they’ll believe they’re more than capable of doing their part.

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All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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