The time is upon us - our campaign to get back to the top begins with a trip to Tuscany to face Grosseto. They are a relatively new face in the top levels of Italian football coming from one of the few (maybe the only?) town in Italy where baseball is the most popular sport and beginning their spell in Serie B in 2007-08, for the first time ever. Nonetheless they are a tricky opponent as they finished 13th in their first Serie B season followed by a 6th place finish last season that saw them qualify for the playoffs, where they lost to eventual winners Livorno in the semis.
They are a good team with no standout players though some of their better players include Australia international Carl Valeri, Austrian forward Thomas Pichlmann who has two caps for the national team, Cameroonian midfielder Thomas Job and Italy youth international Marco D'Alessandro, on loan from Roma. They also have many players with plenty of experience in Serie B so they are not to be taken lightly. Their manager is Elio Gustinetti who has had a long, if unspectacular career in the Italian lower leagues.
As for us, it is difficult to say as we could see plenty some departures before Saturday including Dzemaili, Amoruso and Abbruscato. Di Michele and Bianchi will surely start up front with DDM recovering from his gastrointestinal problems and Gasba probably has a lock on a starting place. Loria and Pratali have looked shaky in central defense during the Coppa Italia but will probably get the nod nonetheless for lack of better options. Ogbonna could return on the left of defense and Colombo will probably keep his place on the right. The midfield, aside from Gasba is where the biggest questions are, mostly revolving around the situation of Dzemaili. We could see any of him, Loviso, Zanetti, or Säumel (should he be fit) starting and I wouldn't be surprised to see Gorobsov or Belingheri around on the flanks and Bottone on the bench. My best guess?
Bianchi - Di Michele
Gasba - Dzemaili - Loviso - Belingheri
Ogbonna - Pratali - Loria - Colombo
Bench: Calderoni, Rivalta, Rubin, Gorobsov, Zanetti, Amoruso, Abbruscato
NOTE: This is given no ins and outs before Saturday, of which I feel there is a 50-50 chance.
FORZA TORO, IN IL PARADISO O IL INFIERNO, ORA E SEMPRE!