Weblog: The football punter

Torino striker Andrea Belotti looks dangerous

TV: Premier Sports, 8pm Thursday

Wolves have racked up four victories from four Europa League qualifying games but they face a big step up in class for their playoff round first-leg clash away to Torino and may struggle to avoid defeat.

Last season's seventh place was a just reward for Wolves after an outstanding campaign but it will soon be forgotten if Nuno's side fail to claim a place in the Europa League group stage.

Everything went smoothly in the early rounds with Wolves cruising to aggregate victories over Crusaders (6-1) and Pyunik (8-0).

But they could not have landed a much tougher playoff round draw than Torino, who lost just seven of their 38 Serie A matches last season.

The elite Italian clubs do not usually place a high priority on Europa League progress but Torino, who are engaged in just their second European campaign since the turn of the century, may see things differently.

They have impressed in the qualifiers, registering aggregate successes over Debrecen (7-1) and Shakhtyor Soligorsk (6-1), and should be approaching peak fitness with the Serie A season starting this weekend.

Walter Mazzarri's side had the fifth-best defensive record in Italy last season, conceding just 37 goals, and are unlikely to afford Wolves many opportunities on the counter-attack.

Mazzarri's men will also be aware of the importance of taking a lead to Molineux and have the tools to succeed.

Italian international striker Andrea Belotti bagged 15 league goals for them last term and his goalscoring instincts could make the difference against a Wolves side which may not have fully recovered from Monday's hard-fought 1-1 draw at home to Manchester United.


The Football Site

Like on Facebook


Match in Focus

19:30 TODAY BT3

Wolfsburg v Hoffenheim

Home WinDrawAway Win
Key stats
  • Wolfsburg have kept one clean sheet in their last eight home Bundesliga matches
Expert verdict
Hoffenheim have made a poor start to the Bundesliga season under new coach Alfred Schreuder and have failed to score in three of their opening four games but could still threaten on their trip to Wolfsburg, who have lost just one of their last 13 home matches but kept only one clean sheet in their last eight games on their own patch. Wolfsburg should justify favouritism as Wout Weghorst and Josip Brekalo have both hit the ground running but Hoffenheim scored in all 17 away games last term.