Real Madrid players responsible for slump in form, says Toshack

Former Real Madrid boss John Toshack has claimed that Los Blancos’ players are partly to blame for the side’s current malaise in form.

The capital club are in the middle of a dire run of results – having won only one of their first four league games and a one-nil defeat at Sevilla on Saturday has done little to lift the mood around the Santiago Bernabeu.

But despite coach Jose Mourinho saying he is the one responsible for slump, ex-boss Toshack believes the players have to shoulder some of the blame.

“It is clear that the players are partly responsible,” he told Esports Cope. “Sometimes a coach does not get the performance he wants, so it is fair that they share the blame.

“Mourinho’s pride will be hurt terribly. It is a horrible start for the team, and as long as this continues, the pressure will keep on coming. And even more so if things don’t go well against Manchester City.

“It is going to be a difficult fight for the league. They will have to win the next game at Camp Nou [against Barcelona]”.

Real Madrid travel to Catalunya on November 6.

Betting: Enhanced price wincasts on Ronaldo and Tevez ahead of Tuesday's Champions League clash

Spanish champions and last season’s Champions League semi-finalists Real Madrid have proved one of the most popular selections with the betting public, with punters seemingly undeterred by their poor start to the season.

Madrid are available at 8/13 (1.62) to start their European campaign off with a win against the English champions and if they are to do, many would expect Cristiano Ronaldo to be on the scoresheet.

have enhanced his wincast price ahead of the game, allowing punters to back Ronaldo to score anytime and Real Madrid to win at 6/4 (2.50), rather than the 11/10 (2.10) previously available.

Ronaldo has two goals to his name in La Liga this season and also scored the winning goal in Real Madrid’s Super Copa second leg against rivals Barcelona.

Manchester City will also look to their big names to fire on the European stage and they will need several good performances to progress from a group which sees them face the champions of Spain, Germany and the Netherlands.

Carlos Tevez will be hoping to make an impression on the game and with Madrid’s defence looking particularly suspect in the early part of the season, the Argentina international will hope he can continue his good goalscoring touch after notching three goals in four league appearances for City so far.

Tevez to score in a Manchester City win was previously priced at 11/2 (6.50) with but that price has been enhanced to 9/1 (10.0) ahead of the game. For those who believe Roberto Mancini’s side could be set to surprise a Real Madrid team who have lost three of their last five matches, that price may appeal.

Sign up with for a £25 free bet. Using it on Ronaldo to score and Real Madrid to win at the enhanced price would return £62.50
Jim Knight is Betting Editor at and has been tipping football games since he was old enough to place a bet. He is a Leicester City fan, writer and member of the We Are Going Up Podcast
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La Liga Team of the Week: Fabregas & Navas both shine

The fourth round of Liga fixtures brought another defeat for Real Madrid and confirmation of Barcelona’s excellent start to the season. There were wins for Valencia, Sevilla, Malaga and Atletico Madrid as all continued on the right path, while Espanyol and Athletic Bilbao played out a hugely entertaining 3-3 draw at Cornella. Here, takes a look at La Liga’s top performers from the weekend’s matches.

In goal, Andres Fernandez produced another fine show for Osasuna. The goalkeeper makes our selection for the second time this season, even though his side are yet to win a match in 2012-13.

In defence, Valencia new boy Cissokho is included after a fine display in the win over Celta, which included a brilliant header to give Mauricio Pellegrino’s men their first victory of the season. Former Che defender Carlos Marchena is in again following another impressive performance with Deportivo La Coruna in their 1-1 draw at Granada, while Inigo Martinez makes up the backline after starring – and scoring – in Real Sociedad’s 2-0 win over Zaragoza.

Meanwhile, Jesus Navas starred as Sevilla beat Real Madrid, while Nacho Camacho was Malaga’s star performer in their win over Levante. At Cornella, Espanyol’s Joan Verdu grabbed an assist and a goal in his side’s 3-3 draw with Athletic, while another Catalan, Cesc Fabregas, silenced his critics with a sublime showing at Getafe, where he set up the first goal for Adriano and was unlucky not to score himself.

Aritz Aduriz scored twice to rescue a much-needed point for Athletic at Espanyol, while Diego Costa took his chance against former club Rayo by setting up two goals and winning a penalty in Atletico Madrid’s 4-3 win. Real Sociedad’s Carlos Vela also shone, winning and converting a spot kick in the Basques’ 2-0 win over Zaragoza, in which he was the pick of his side’s attacking players.

Jose Mourinho's five tactical concerns ahead of Real Madrid's clash against Manchester City

By Alberto Pinero | Spain

Their start has been nothing short of disastrous. Defeat to Sevilla at the Sanchez Pizjuan means Real Madrid have picked up just four points from as many games in La Liga. It is their poorest start for a number of years and the worst ever in the coaching career of Jose Mourinho.

The Portuguese coach has blamed Madrid’s malaise on poor attitude and a lack of commitment from his players, but his side showed several tactical flaws in Seville on Saturday against an Andalusian side set up to stifle the capital club.

Food for thought for Mourinho, then, ahead of Tuesday night’s Champions League group game at home to Manchester City, when the 49-year-old may make several changes. takes a look at what will be on Mou’s mind in the build-up to that clash at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Madrid struggled at set pieces last season and the problem appears to have worsened in the current campaign. Three of the four league goals conceded have come from dead-ball situations and Mourinho is at a loss to explain why his side have been so inept at defending free kicks and corners.

The Portuguese claims to have spent hours in training on dealing with such situations and has revealed that messages and diagrams hang on the dressing room wall, reminding players of their responsibilities. Nevertheless, it isn’t working and a team of Madrid’s calibre shouldn’t be conceding goals in this manner. On Saturday, Angel Di Maria was the culprit as he failed to track Piotr Trochowski from a corner, but Sevilla could have done even more damage and Mourinho needs to go back to the drawing board to ensure such lapses are avoided in future.

Madrid have a problem when teams stop Xabi Alonso from playing, as Sevilla did on Saturday. Real’s rivals have figured out that, if you can restrict the Basque in midfield, Mourinho’s men struggle to create chances. Sami Khedira and Michael Essien are less creative, as was Lass Diarra, while Nuri Sahin has departed and Luka Modric is still settling.

Michel put Trochowski on Alonso and the German’s marking nullified the threat posed by the Spain midfielder. This presents a problem to Mourinho because, to get around this issue, he will either need to start Modric alongside Alonso and lose defensive steel or change the system altogether, something he currently seems reluctant to do. Modric, in the meantime, is set to start on Tuesday.

With individual pressure placed on Alonso, Alvaro Arbeloa has been allowed more space to attack down the right-hand side, but the full-back has been unable to take advantage of the extra room and was replaced by Jose Callejon against Sevilla.

Arbeloa is strong and disciplined in defence, but his attacking game is nothing spectacular and rival teams know he is likely to cause far fewer problems than Marcelo on the opposite flank. He has been left free to advance down his channel but cannot capitalise in the same way that a more technical full-back would. And as Madrid decided against signing such a player in the summer, it leaves Mourinho with another dilemma.

Real Madrid possess perhaps the world’s best counter-attack and Mourinho is keen for his players to apply exhaustive pressure to win the ball back and then set off on quick breaks. Last season, it worked to perfection. The problem arises when teams defend deep and there is no space to exploit in the final third. Madrid struggle to break down such systems.

Accustomed to searching for spaces, Madrid’s midfielders find life difficult against static sides, despite the presence of Cristiano Ronaldo and Di Maria out wide. In such situations, they require a more subtle approach, but with Mesut Ozil off form and Kaka out of the picture, there has been little or no alternative this term. Again, much may depend on the adaptation of Modric here, but even the Croat struggled as Sevilla strangled the midfield on Saturday, just as Ozil had done before him.

It seems ironic that the team that obliterated La Liga’s goalscoring record last term should be struggling to hit the back of the net this time around, but that’s the reality right now. This time last season, Madrid had scored double the amount of goals they have managed so far in the current campaign, even considering the disappointing displays at Levante and Racing Santander, which ended in a 1-0 defeat and a goalless draw.

Benzema is in the middle of a worrying drought which dates back to last May for club and country, while Di Maria has been disappointing despite a promising pre-season, Ronaldo is well below his best after expressing his unhappiness at the club and Gonzalo Higauin has netted five times in 2012-13 but missed far too many opportunities this term.

Cartoon of the Day: Real Madrid fail in bid to sign Manchester City's family Silva

Real Madrid face Manchester City in a mouthwatering Champions League tie at the Bernabeu on Tuesday night.

The trip to Spain marks a return to his homeland for David Silva, who is coveted by Jose Mourinho’s side.

But, having tied the playmaker to a five-year contract on Monday, Roberto Mancini and the Premier League champions have made it very clear one of their prized assets is going nowhere.

Mancini keeps Silva safe at fortress Manchester City