La Liga Preview

It’s all quite tight at the top of the La Liga table. However, Real Madrid will be in a buoyant mood after seeing off their El Clasico rivals Barcelona at the Nou Camp in their last outing. In this preview, we will discuss two clashes – Elche v Real Madrid, and Atletico Madrid v Real Betis. We will also see how the match odds are looking.

Real Madrid pile the pressure as Ronald Koeman is sacked

Barcelona crashed to their second La Liga defeat last weekend, as Real Madrid claimed a 2-1 victory. David Alaba’s strike was the pick of the goals, as he dispatched a thunderbolt of a strike past Marc-Andre ter Stegen. Lucas Vazquez netted in stoppage time to seal the points, and although Sergio Aguero pulled one back for the hosts, it was a mere consolation.

Real didn’t even have to be at their best to claim all the three points, however, it is usually the hallmark of the champions that a side can come through a stiff test with flying colours. Los Blancos have now won four Clasicos for the first time since they managed seven in a row in the 1960s.

Luka Modric racks up special milestone for Real Madrid

The El Clasico victory was sweet for so many reasons, and in particular, it was for Luka Modric, who racked up his 400th appearance for the Spanish giants. Reflecting on the milestone, the Croatian playmaker said: “I’m very happy and very proud. I hope to keep playing more games.” Modric would love to add to his tally against Elche.

Real Madrid dealt Fede Valverde blow after El Clasico win

Unfortunately for Real, there were a couple of injuries picked up in the El Clasico victory. The most serious of which was to Fede Valverde, who sprained a ligament in his left knee while contesting a high ball with Gerard Pique. Valverde could be out for a couple of weeks, and it’s far from ideal timing for Carlo Ancelotti.

Elche v Real Madrid: Unlocking the vault on past clashes

Real Madrid have generally travelled well, especially against Elche. Although Los Blancos were held to a 1-1 draw away to Elche last season, they have been prolific this campaign, racking up 24 goals at the time of writing. If Elche aren’t careful, they could be put to the sword.

Atletico Madrid still in title mix despite more dropped points

Atletico Madrid have become the hunted this season, and in recent weeks, it seems like the pressure has been getting to them. One win in their past four La Liga outings is hardly the stuff of champions, but Diego Simeone’s men are still in the mix for the title, as they are fourth in the table, three points adrift of pacesetters Real Sociedad.

At the time of writing, Atletico were preparing for a trip to face Levante. However, they will be hoping they remember the lessons learnt in their 2-2 draw to Sociedad last weekend. Sociedad surged to a two-goal lead, and Atletico had to rely on Luis Suarez to pull themselves out of a hole.

Of course, goals from Suarez are crucial, but Atletico need help from other areas of the pitch. Unfortunately, ahead of their trip to Levante, the reigning La Liga champions were missing Geoffrey Kondogbia, along with Marcos Llorente and Thomas Lemar. However, Stefan Savic has returned to training, and he could return to the fold soon.

Atletico Madrid v Real Betis: A look back on past encounters

Atletico Madrid will relish hosting Real Betis, with whom they have a favourable head-to-head record. Last season, Atletico ran out comfortable 2-0 winners against Real Betis, with Llorente and Suarez grabbing the goals. Simeone has been trying to implement a new fluid attacking style, and he will be hoping it comes to fruition against Betis.

However, Betis have already shown they won’t just go quietly. Going into Sunday’s clash, they are currently fifth in the table, and they will give Atletico Madrid plenty of food for thought. Manuel Pellegrini has made Betis easy on the eye, and of Spain’s top four this season, only Real Madrid and Sevilla have scored more times than Betis (15).

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Ole's wheel has come off

It can’t get any worse than this, can it? With Manchester United being embarrassed, humiliated and ultimately destroyed by Liverpool at Old Trafford, Ole’s wheel has broken off…

Watching that game was painful. Even for the neutrals it would have been tough, as the gulf in quality was almost non-sportiv. It was like watching men against boys who had never seen a football pitch beforehand. Manchester United players were nowhere near any Liverpool players, with or without the ball and the gaps in midfield were galactic.

We’ve spoken about United having no shape, no DNA, no tactical idea… and the  most scary thing is perhaps that this time, Solskjaer set up his boys for the early press. Firstly, pressing up against Liverpool is always a massive ask but a manager’s task is sometimes to adapt tactically to match his opponent and not try to stick by his guns all the time.

Solskjaer has repeatedly said that United, when playing at home, should always be on the front foot. This is brave and bold, and can be done when you have the right players. This United squad is imbalanced, lacks two proper holding midfielders and has a weak defence.

To add some perspective to the above, McFred, as the comedy pairing of Scott McTominay and Fred have been dubbed, managed 1 tackle all game. Fred actually made zero. Zero. If you are a defensive midfielder, that’s a massive part of your game. Just imagine an accountant who can’t count, or a surgeon who faints at the sight of blood…

Were Liverpool brilliant? Nope. I would say they never even saw fourth gear, it was that simple for them. They themselves looked shocked and almost embarrassed at just how easy this was. Salah’s hat-trick, while impressive, really was watered down and to be fair they should have gone for the jugular here and scored at least seven goals. Even when United went for damage limitation mode, Liverpool were just toying with them. It’s scary to think what will happen when Man City go to Old Trafford on November 6th. It’s going to be like watching Floyd Mayweather at his peak, toying around, dancing and then delivering one solid knockout blow while never breaking sweat.

Manchester United now have no option. Mentally, there’s no way back from this. You don’t recover from this, and the season can already be written off. They are miles, no galaxies, away from Liverpool, Chelsea and City… and this is despite having one of the best attacking squads in the league. It’s hard to recover when the stadium drains at half time, when Liverpool fans have a party in your own backyard, when Pogba gets himself sent off in a needless challenge, then smiles after. The pressure is now huge and it’s almost impossible to work in those conditions.

You can tell that Solskjaer struggles when it comes to improving players or even helping new players settle in. Jadon Sancho has found it tough, Donny van de Beek (who?) is invisible and this is a worrying sign. He’s meant to be building a squad, but when players can’t seem to get going under him, you can see there are issues.

The board will stick to Solskjaer for now, and probably might back him to the end of the season, despite the fact that Antonio Conte is available. Their gruelling run of results does not stop, with Spurs this weekend and Atalanta midweek before the City game. 

United still have no identity and were exposed by Leicester a week before, where they also came to Old Trafford and scored FOUR. It’s beyond ridiculous and even Atalanta found the first half a walk in the park. Sure the comeback was great, but that was pure desperation and United need to sort out that hopeless defence. Maguire and Shaw were statues, when they are meant to be the leaders back there.

Saturday’s trip to Spurs has been labelled El Sackicko… as both Ole and Nuno Espirito Santos can face the sack if the result goes wrong for them… which one are you backing to remain in a job?

Get Spurs to win at odds of 39/20 here. 

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Bundesliga Preview

The Bundesliga has made for compelling viewing over the past few weeks. Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund recorded handsome victories last weekend, while RB Leipzig also sauntered to a 4-1 win over Greuther Furth. The top two are in action on Saturday, so we will run the rule over FC Union Berlin v Bayern, and Dortmund v Cologne.

Robert Lewandowski strengthens Ballon d’Or case as Bayern Munich brush aside Hoffenheim

Robert Lewandowski has been nothing short of lethal this term. And the way, he’s going, he looks to be a shoo-in for the Ballon d’Or award. The Polish hitman claimed his 10th goal of the Bundesliga campaign last weekend as Bayern romped to a 4-0 victory over Hoffenheim. Although Julian Nagelsmann was missing from the touchline due to illness, Bayern proved too hot to handle.

Bayern have struck an extraordinary 33 times after nine games, and it was a momentous day for Manuel Neuer, who notched up his 300th victory in Germany’s top flight. But Lewandowski has plenty of backing for the Ballon d’Or, with former Wolfsburg star Kevin De Bruyne commenting: “I’d choose Lewandowski for what he has done in the last two years. He would be my pick.”

Bayern Munich to ring in changes for German Cup

After working from home for the past two matches, Nagelsmann will have been in constant contact with assistant coach Dino Topmuller, who has picked things up from a tactical standpoint. And with a German Cup clash in midweek against Borussia Monchengladbach, you imagine some of Bayern’s big guns will be rested to keep them fresh for the trip to Union Berlin.

FC Union Berlin trending in the right direction

Although they are winless in their past two matches, FC Union Berlin are still trending in the right direction. They are currently fifth in the table, just a point off the top four. Taiwo Awoniyi — who has netted seven times in the Bundesliga this season — will be hoping for some joy against Bayern.

Borussia Dortmund score two screamers as they win without Erling Haaland

Dortmund are firmly on the coattails of Bayern Munich. Although Dortmund were bereft of Erling Haaland’s services, as the striker is out for up to three weeks with a hip injury, they clinched a 3-1 victory away to strugglers Arminia Bielefeld last weekend. Mats Hummels and Jude Bellingham were both on target, and their eye-catching strikes sealed the three points.

Jude Bellingham continues to go from strength to strength

Although the injuries have been mounting up for Dortmund, with Haaland, Raphael Guerreiro, and Mo Dahoud all on the treatment table, Bellingham has made huge strides. In particular, he has improved his output in the final third, contributing 0.47 goals and assists per 90 minutes in the Bundesliga.

Against Bielefeld, Bellingham produced a masterclass of a display, and his goal is well worth watching a few times on the highlights reels. Picking up the ball on the edge of the box, he glided past three defenders before dinking his effort into the corner of the net. It was simply stunning stuff!

Perhaps what is more concerning for Marco Rose’s charges is the defence. They currently have the fifth-best defensive record in the Bundesliga, but they have shipped 15 goals in nine games. While their attacking prowess has saved them, they are still searching for their first clean sheet of the campaign. A strong back four is the foundation of a title-winning side.

FC Cologne desperate to get back on the winning trail

While Cologne are bobbling along nicely in eighth spot in the Bundesliga, they have found wins hard to come by of late. Indeed, Cologne have tasted victory just once in their past six outings. Although they had to come from behind to rescue a point against Bayer Leverkusen, they will have to be at their best to keep out Dortmund.

It will very much be a case of Cologne being able to hang on in there, and riding out tough moments in the game. Cologne will take comfort from their last trip to Signa Iduna Park, where they clinched a 2-1 victory thanks to a double from Ellyes Shkiri. Dortmund, however, may have other ideas.

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Dare To Be Different with Andrei Kanchelskis: My story

As part of our Dare to Be Different series, we caught up with Manchester United cult hero Andrei Kanchelskis who discussed his life in the Premier League and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Friday 22nd October 2021 – Former Manchester United winger Andrei Kanchelskis has told Casumo that Red Devils boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer needs time to turn things around at Old Trafford, but he can still win the Premier League title this season with the help of Cristiano Ronaldo. 

United have picked up just two wins from their last six under Solskjaer, including going three league matches without a victory, but Kanchelskis feels the Norwegian is capable of bringing success to the club – if fans are patient. 

“There are a few problems for (Ole Gunnar) Solskjaer,” Kanchelskis said. “United have a lot of attacking players but are a less balanced team. Is he unsure who should make his first XI as he’s trying to fit in all the big names and keep them happy? United also defensively have problems, especially against Leicester last week, where they conceded four goals. If you play for a team like United you just can’t concede that many, there needs to be more concentration at the back.

“United are struggling a bit now but this is football. This is a difficult time at the moment, but the fans need to wait a little longer for success. If you see the story of Sir Alex Ferguson, he went a number of years with no trophies before winning. Fans need to wait, Solskjaer needs time. 

“If you change manager every few seasons, it’s not great for the team. It didn’t work for Louis van Gaal, Jose Mourinho…The fans need to wait for Solskjaer and help him. He needs longer and to be trusted. Solskjaer isn’t the most experienced coach, but he played for United and understands what happens in the Old Trafford dressing room.”

Kanchelskis added: “But I think United can still win the league this season. The fans have been waiting for so long and I believe it’s still possible. Finishing in the top four is still a big priority, to be playing in the Champions League, but fans want to be seeing the team win titles. Second, third or fourth position isn’t the same.”

While Kanchelskis feels United can still win the league under Solskjaer this season, it’s the arrival of Ronaldo that has taken the club to another level. 

“I’m delighted (Cristiano) Ronaldo moved back to United,” he said. “It was a great move for the club, everybody involved is happy. He will help Manchester United and he will help them win titles – the Premier League. For too many years United haven’t won the title, so I’m delighted he’s back to help them. For this reason, he should always be starting games for United.”

Up next for United is a home clash against Liverpool in the Premier League on Sunday and Kanchelskis, who played for the Red Devils between 1991 and 1995, feels his former side should have enough to outdo their rivals. 

“It’s going to be an exciting game and I think United will win,” he said. “Firstly, the home advantage at Old Trafford will help and so will that second-half performance against Atalanta. It’ll be great motivation for playing against Liverpool, which is always a passionate fixture. Maybe psychologically, Liverpool are a little better as they’ve played well in recent games, while United have dropped points against the likes of Leicester, but I still think United will get the win. I hope they can carry that second-half performance against Atalanta into the Premier League and against Liverpool.”

Kanchelskis also said that fellow winger Jadon Sancho can go on to prove his worth at United, despite a slow start to life at the club since joining from Borussia Dortmund in the summer. 

“I think Jadon Sancho will be a success at the club,” Kanchelskis said. “He needs some time as he’s moved from another country. Fans need to be patient as he’s a very good player that will do well at United and I think he can help them win titles. He just needs time to adapt, like I did when I moved to the Premier League. Give him time and he’ll be a great player for United.”

Following Liverpool’s mauling of Manchester United at Old Trafford, where do you think United will finish this season? Head this way to find our Premier League odds.

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Dare To Be Different with Andrei Kanchelskis: My story

It takes a special kind of player to become a cult hero at more than one club. Doing so at three major British clubs, all while initially having to overcome major language and cultural barriers, is even more impressive. 

“I scored goals in all three of the major derbies I played in the UK,” Andrei Kanchelskis tells Casumo. “The Manchester, Merseyside and Old Firm derbies! I’m very honoured to have done so, it was a great time.”

Indeed, over 20 years on from achieving the feat, Kanchelskis is still the only player ever to have scored in each of the Manchester, Merseyside, and Old Firm derbies – with his goals for Manchester United, Everton and Rangers helping to earn his eternal place in the hearts of the supporters of the three great clubs. 

It was at Manchester United where the winger first made a name for himself on UK shores, with Alex Ferguson signing Kanchelskis from Shakhtar Donetsk in 1991 for £650,000 off the back of seeing him on video playing for Russia’s under-21s.

After beginning his career with hometown team Zirka Kropyvnytskyi, a big move to Dynamo Kyiv followed – where Kanchelskis worked under legendary Ukrainian coach Valeriy Lobanovskyi – before then moving on to Shakhtar Donetsk.

Impressing for two of Ukraine’s biggest clubs is one thing, but then doing so at Manchester United, where a new culture and language awaited, and at a time when there were still relatively few foreign players in England, was another challenge altogether.

“Moving to England was difficult,” Kanchelskis recalls. “Having to deal with a new country, a new language, a new culture – even driving on the different side of the road! There were a few problems when I first arrived, which I eventually overcame. Thankfully I had a translator who played a big role in helping me and my family to settle.”

But settle he soon did. Kanchelskis went on to make 32 league appearances during his first full campaign at United in 1991/92 as they won the League Cup, before he then helped the club win the inaugural Premier League the following season – the Red Devils’ first league title in 26 years. 

“It was a dream to sign for Manchester United,” Kanchelskis says. “I remember signing my contract with the club, signing together with Paul Parker and Peter Schmeichel in 1991. After our first season we lost the league title to Leeds, but Sir Alex Ferguson went straight into the dressing room and said ‘OK guys, no worries. Next season we will win the title.’ And next season we did win the title after 26 years! 

“It was an excellent team and I am so pleased to have experienced and been involved with that. Everyone at the club was like a family to me and helped me along the way with my initial problems. I was lucky to play with some big names and with some excellent people.”

The good times at Old Trafford continued the following season as the Russia international played a key role as United won another Premier League title, as well as the FA Cup, to seal the double for the first time in the club’s history, with the winger by now a firm fan favourite. 

“Winning the double in 1994 was an amazing moment and for me this was the best Manchester United team I played in,” Kanchelskis says. “Thank you very much to Sir Alex Ferguson and to all the people who worked at Manchester United that helped me. It was an excellent time, I won too many titles. Two times I won the Premier League, and the FA Cup and League Cup… 

“I was very lucky to play for Sir Alex Ferugson, he was an excellent coach. Thank you for the trophies! And for helping me and for taking a chance on me. I’m waiting to come to Manchester United to see him again and to take him some black caviar as he loves black caviar!” 

The following season was less successful for Ferguson’s side as Blackburn pipped United to the 1994/95 Premier League title on the final day of the season. 

Kanchelskis’ impressive form continued into that campaign as he finished the season as United’s top scorer with 15 goals, including a hat-trick in the 5-0 derby win over rivals Manchester City, yet a reported falling out with Ferguson led to his departure to Everton for a club record £5 million.

“I was disappointed to leave United, of course,” Kanchelskis says. “But I had a great time at Everton, they’re a great club.”

Everton Cult Status

Just a few months into his time at Everton and Kanchelskis had already earnt cult status with the club’s supporters after scoring two goals against Merseyside rivals Liverpool at Anfield to secure a 2-1 victory – the Toffees’ first win away in the league at their enemies since 1986.

By the end of his first season at Goodison Park, Kanchelskis had scored 16 goals, including 10 in the last 10 matches, to finish up as the club’s top scorer and match Tony Cottee’s then club record for most goals in a campaign. 

“Everton fans really got behind the team, even though most seasons they hadn’t won trophies or weren’t in Europe,” Kanchelskis says. “When I signed there was a lot of pressure on me, especially from the media, as it was a lot of money for the club to pay. But the fans helped me overcome that and so did Joe Royle, a great coach and a great help for me. I was very happy to play for Everton.”

Kanchelskis’ performances at Everton attracted interest from abroad, with Fiorentina splashing out £8 million on the winger in 1997. A injury-hit spell in Italy soon followed, before Rangers broke the Scottish transfer record by paying £5.5 million to bring Kanchelskis to Ibrox in 1998. 

Treble at Rangers

By the end of his first season in Scotland, Kanchelskis had helped Rangers win a first domestic treble of the league, Scottish Cup and Scottish League Cup since 1993, while the next season he netted in the Old Firm derby against Celtic to secure his place in Ibrox folklore. 

Yet by the following campaign, Kanchelskis had fallen out with manager Dick Advocaat and found himself being shipped out on loan back to Manchester – but this time, of all places, to United’s rivals Manchester City. 

“I had an excellent time in Scotland playing for such a big club like Rangers,” Kanchelskis says. “In my Old Firm derby, I broke my arm – welcome to Scotland! The derbies against Celtic were great occasions. 

“I then went on loan to Manchester City because I needed somewhere to practice as I wasn’t playing too many games at Rangers. I had some problems with Advocaat, so Joe Royle took me to City. If I’d have moved to City directly, of course this would not be great given my time at United, but everyone understands why I moved to City – I needed somewhere to practice and somewhere to play some big games. And I knew Joe Royle from my time at Everton. 

“I only played 12 games, not too many. And Man City aren’t like they are now, we dropped down to the Championship. Man City now and Man City then are very different. But of course, if I go to Manchester, Man United supporters will still remind me of the move! But this is life, this is football.”

Kanchelskis soon moved on to Southampton after returning to Rangers, before winding down his career with Saudi club Al Hilal and Russian sides Dynamo Moscow, Saturn Ramenskoye and Krylia Sovetov, finally hanging up his boots in 2006. 

Kanchelskis has since moved into management with spells at clubs in Russia, Uzbekistan and Latvia, yet for fans of Manchester United, Everton and Rangers, it will be his work on the pitch – his rapid pace, an eye for goal and impressive work rate – that he will always be remembered for.  

“I’m very lucky and very glad I had the chance to play for some great teams – especially Manchester United as they’re such a great club, and Everton as well,” Kanchelskis says. “I say to the fans, thank you very much. I played with my heart 100%. Thank you to everyone that worked at the clubs and helped me along the way. From the chairman to the players, to the secretary, thank you all very much.”

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