Torino travel to Minsk on Thursday evening to play out what’s ultimately a relatively meaningless second-leg Europa League fixture, after they did more than enough in last week’s home leg to confirm their place in the final play-off round by winning five. The Italian side didn’t actually qualify for this competition through the league method, instead taking advantage of AC Milan’s European ban. The hosts, meanwhile, qualified by finishing as distant runners-up to perennial champions BATE Borisov, and currently find themselves in third, eight points off the top spot, 15 games into the current Belarusian league campaign.
Shakhtyor at least took out some frustration following their mauling to Torino last week by beating fellow Belarusian Neman Grodno 6-0 on Monday night themselves. Coming out on either end of such big scorelines is a testament to the higher level that teams from Serie A compete at. Torino had a solid season under Walter Mazarri last season, finishing seventh and only six points off the top four Champions League qualification spots. But their pre-season preparations were thrown into chaos with the sudden announcement that they’d be replacing AC Milan in the Europa League, with competitive fixtures starting in July in an early qualifier against Debrecen.
Forwards Yanush and Elis Bakaj both scored in Shakhtyor’s Monday night victory, taking them both to seven goals for the season. The Belarusian side isn’t short of firepower and could give their home fans a consolation goal to cheer here, with Bakaj and Pavel Rybak scoring the goals that took Shakhtyor surprisingly past Esbjerg in the last round of Europa League qualifiers.
There’s little reason to rotate for Mazarri, with the Serie A campaign still not due to start for a fortnight. He’s essentially been using these mid-Summer qualifiers as pre-season preperations and often fielded strong teams. They beat Debrecen 3-1 at home in the last round’s first leg, but blew apart the opposition in the away second leg, winning 4-1 to make it seven on aggregate. Armando Izzo and Andrea Belotti have both been prolific so far, scoring three goals between them in last week’s 5-0 win, and they could both retain their place here, with former Valencia striker Simone Zaza joining them.
Torino won so comprehensively home and away against Debrecen, so there’s every chance of them not taking their foot off the gas in the second leg here, while last week’s 5-0 win underlines their total superiority. Torino to win at 1.60 with Bet365 aren’t as short odds as they might have been, while to win by four or more goals again at 9.50 is a very fair price. However, Shakhtyor showed their striking prowess by scoring six goals on Monday evening, while Torino conceded one goal apiece home and away against Debrecen. Both teams to score at 1.65 is also worth considering.