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Nov 6, 2021 at 2pm UK
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Preview: Spezia vs. Torino - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: Spezia vs. Torino - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole previews Saturday's Serie A clash between Spezia and Torino, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Sports Mole

After coming through some tough Serie A fixtures last month to sit comfortably in mid-table, Torino prepare for a trip to struggling Spezia on Saturday as favourites for the points.

While the Granata cruised to victory over Sampdoria last weekend, the hosts were beaten by their former coach's Fiorentina side - already a seventh defeat of the campaign for the 18th-placed Aquilotti.

Match preview

With just two wins from their first 11 games, Spezia's second season in the top flight has been an uphill battle since their former manager departed Liguria in the summer.

The latest loss of the 2021-22 campaign came against Vincenzo Italiano's Fiorentina at Stadio Artemio Franchi, where the irrepressible Dusan Vlahovic dominated their defence, which has already conceded 26 times in the league.

The Serbian striker's hat-trick consigned Spezia to another empty-handed trip home, piling the pressure on current boss Thiago Motta, whose side must face Atalanta, Inter and Roma in the month following the upcoming international break.

Having also previously picked up just a point from a pair of Ligurian derbies against Genoa and Sampdoria, it is clear that he must find the key to improving a back line which has let in goals during each of their last 27 league games dating back to February. In fact, Spezia have now leaked the most goals in 2021 across the top five European leagues.

Motta will go toe to toe with former Genoa teammate Ivan Juric this weekend - the pair played 22 games together for the Grifone back in 2008-09, incidentally under Atalanta's Gian Piero Gasperini - with doubts already forming around his future.

Memories of a 4-1 victory over Torino in May, though, might inspire his men to greater heights on Saturday - particularly star striker M'Bala Nzola, who bagged a brace on that occasion but has yet to get off the mark this term.

After a bright start under Ivan Juric, 12th-placed Torino had won just one of six matches prior to hosting Sampdoria last weekend, so were in need of a morale-boosting victory.

With their momentum stalled by a tricky run of games against Juventus, Napoli and Milan during October, the Granata bounced back to put Sampdoria to the sword in Turin, winning 3-0 against the 10-man Blucerchiati thanks to goals from former Samp midfielder Dennis Praet, Wilfred Singo and returning talisman Andrea Belotti.

The Italy striker's return to first-team action following an injury layoff is, of course, a welcome boost to Juric's side, but it is actually at the back where they have excelled of late.

The Croatian coach has set about making the Granata's one of the meanest defences in the division, and they have so far conceded fewer goals than city rivals Juve, plus top four contenders Atalanta, Inter and Roma.

Picking up points on the road, however, has proved a problem for Torino this term, with just one league win away from home undermining their push for a top-half place after several seasons of struggle.

Spezia Serie A form:
  • L
  • L
  • W
  • L
  • D
  • L

Torino Serie A form:
  • D
  • L
  • L
  • W
  • L
  • W

Team News

Spezia have injury concerns relating to Omar Colley and Petko Hristov this week, while Mehdi Bourabia and Kevin Agudelo have been back in training as they seek a return to full fitness, but are unlikely to feature on Saturday.

Polish winger Arkadiusz Reca is out of commission due to a thigh injury, but Janis Antiste and Daniele Verde will be pushing for places in the three-man supporting structure for misfiring forward M'Bala Nzola.

Meanwhile, Torino have incurred another muscular injury this week, after a series of such problems in recent times, as Josip Brekalo is expected to miss out due to a calf problem.

Cristian Ansaldi (hamstring) is unlikely to be passed fit in time, so Ola Aina should continue on the left side of the visitors' usual 3-4-2-1 formation, while Marko Pjaca (calf) remains a doubt.

Midfielder Rolando Mandragora is certainly ruled out, so Tommaso Pobega and Sasa Lukic could team up in the centre once again - though Venezuelan veteran Tomas Rincon provides another for coach Ivan Juric, who is set to start Andrea Belotti up front ahead of Antonio Sanabria.

Spezia possible starting lineup:
Provedel; Ferrer, Erlic, Nikolaou, Bastoni; Maggiore, Kovalenko; Salcedo, Verde, Gyasi; Nzola

Torino possible starting lineup:
Milinkovic-Savic; Djidji, Bremer, Rodriguez; Singo, Lukic, Pobega, Aina; Praet, Linetty; Belotti

We say: Spezia 1-2 Torino

The division's worst defence meets one of its most well-organised, which means Torino can add to Spezia's woes with a win at the Picco this weekend.

With Belotti back and a clear sense of purpose in the side, the Granata should prove to have too much for the hosts' porous rearguard which could be responsible for keeping them battling at the bottom for the rest of the season.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting under 3.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Under 3.5:data

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