On the Rise: Dejan Kulusevski

When Dejan Kulusevski was loaned to Parma from his parent club Atalanta not much was made of the move. Given gli Orobici’s wide array of attacking talents, many thought the young Swede was just another player who would go out on perennial loan spells before being sold. However, since joining Parma, the 19-year-old has established himself as a set starter and is a crucial piece to their front-three. But who exactly is Kulusevski?

Having grown up in Atalanta’s youth ranks after joining from his boyhood club Brommapojkarna, the 19-year-old got a comprehensive footballing education in Bergamo for three years. After all, Atalanta’s youth system is highly regarded and is viewed as one of the best in Italy. Last January, Kulusevski made his debut for Gian Piero Gasperini’s men in a 5-0 drubbing of Frosinone. The 19-year-old would make another two appearances before the season came to a close.

Given his lack of playing time and gli Orobici’s depth in the final third, Atalanta decided it was best to loan him out to Parma. With I Crociati, Kulusevski has been able to play regular minutes and has impressed this season. Typically fielded on the right-wing alongside Roberto Inglese and Gervinho, the 19-year-old is able to combine his pace and keen eye for goal to devastating effect.

In many ways, Roberto D’Aversa’s counter-attacking system suits Kulusevski’s qualities and makes the most of his talents. Given his success in this system, it’s only a matter of time before Gasperini calls him back and adds him to his arsenal of weapons.

In addition to being a goalscoring threat, Kulusevski has been Parma’s main creator this season, averaging 2.1 key passes per game. Given the freedom to roam between the lines and filter in centrally, the Parma man is able to make the most of his vision. After all, when he first started his career, he was initially an attacking midfielder.

In his seven appearances this season, Kulusevski is already up to three assists and doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon. Moreover, he’s currently responsible for over 30 per cent of his side’s key passes and expected assists, highlighting his importance to D’Aversa.

In the most recent international break, the young forward played as a striker in U21 Sweden’s 5-0 win. From a central position, Kulusevski punished the Icelandic defence, continuing his impressive form and notching a brace. In the past, he also represented Macedonia at the youth levels but eventually chose Sweden.

Currently, Parma sit in 12th place on nine points and will be taking on Genoa after the international break comes to a close. I Grifoni have struggled this season and will be a good opportunity for Kulusevski to keep the positive streak going.

Beyond this season, Kulusevski appears primed for a return to his parent club Atalanta and join Gasperini’s free-scoring side. Given his qualities, the young Swedish international seems a match made in heaven with Gasperini.

As it is the case for any young talent, it’s all about maintaining this level of play beyond a few games. If his recent displays are anything to go by, it shouldn’t be a problem for Kulusevski.

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Sweden’s World Cup ends, but the journey continues

After a fantastic tournament, Sweden were knocked out of the World Cup, losing to England in the quarter-finals. Despite this anticlimax, Sweden fans should remain hopeful for the future, with Janne Andersson leading the line.

Sweden headed into the World Cup with more attention than usual, having knocked out Italy in the playoffs over two games. Despite this, not many had them advancing from the group, facing the likes of Germany and Mexico already in that stage. Continue reading

Raheem Sterling deserves credit, not criticism, for performance

Towards the end of the first half of England’s World Cup quarter final clash with Sweden, Raheem Sterling was presented with two golden opportunities. The first one saw the winger played clean through, with his shot smothered by goalkeeper Robin Olsen. The flag was raised to spare the winger’s blushes, though. The second miss wasn’t excused in the same way.

Again, Sterling was played through, this time by a long ball over the top. His first touch set him up perfectly, deciding to round Olsen rather than take the early shot. However, by dithering, Sterling allowed the Swedes to get back and block his eventual shot. In the end, it didn’t cost England. But it might have.


These misses were represented in the way many fans evaluated the Manchester City winger’s quarter final performance. Sterling came in for criticism from some, picked out for his perceived poor display. However, Sterling actually deserves credit, not criticism, for the way he played against Sweden.

It could be argued that Sterling is England’s most important player at this World Cup. Nobody can do what he does for the Three Lions. At times, he is more of a number 10 than a winger, dropping into the centre of the pitch to pick up the ball. Sterling is the man who masks England’s deficiencies in midfield.

Had Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain been fit, it’s possible that Gareth Southgate could have used him as the player to open up space in the final third. However, with the Liverpool man out injured Southgate has been forced to think outside the box and that has led him to use Sterling in a way that few appreciate.

Sure, Sterling might have missed a couple chances against Sweden, but no other player in the England team would have been in a position to receive those chances in the first place. His movement both on and off the field needs acknowledging even if the majority of fans seem to overlook it.

Finishing has always been the winger’s weak point. It’s the same for Manchester City. Even as Sterling scored 18 goals in the Premier League last season, he fluffed enough chances in front of goal for this to be perceived as a weakness. It’s certainly true that he could do with sharpening his edge.

Sterling is a key pillar of this England team that has reached the semi finals of the World Cup for the first time since 1990. Southgate understands that and his teammates on the pitch certainly understand that as well. Ultimately, it doesn’t really matter if fans don’t, but it robs Sterling of the praise he so clearly deserves. Even after those missed chances against Sweden, he warrants applause for what he does rather than what he doesn’t.

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Euro Fantasy League Podcast – #22 – Round of 16 Review, Quarter-Finals Predicted


Dave and Jamie return to round up what’s been going on in those seven long days since they last darkened the airwaves. The group stages have finished, the round of 16 is now also done and dusted and now we look ahead to the quarters, and beyond.

#It’sComingHome #DareToDream

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Switzerland’s lack of intent exposed by Sweden


For Switzerland to be disappointed at a missed opportunity in a World Cup quarter final says a lot about the heights reached under Vladimir Petkovic over the past couple of years. Sweden’s 1-0 victory at the Krestovsky Stadium, courtesy of Emil Forsberg‘s deflected second half goal, knocked them out of the tournament. It was also just their second defeat in two years; while the Swedes were a more than beatable opponent on paper, perspective is needed as the post-mortem starts. Continue reading

England must come up with Plan B for Sweden game

Maybe it really is coming home. Maybe this is just meant to be for England. Maybe after 52 years they are destined to win the World Cup game. If England can win a penalty shootout, then perhaps anything can happen. Now in the quarter finals, down to the final eight of the tournament, they certainly stand a chance of at least making it to Russia for the final on July 15.

Tuesday night’s penalty shootout win over Colombia will go down as a watershed moment in England’s World Cup campaign. Until then, Gareth Southgate’s side had been untested in Russia, coming through two games against low calibre opposition in Tunisia and Panama before facing a second-string Belgium in what was effectively a dead rubber.


However, despite the understandable hysteria that has come with England making the quarter finals, there are lessons to be learned from the failure to claim victory over Colombia in 120 minutes of play. Southgate’s side struggled to create chances from open play, relying on set pieces and a penalty kick from Harry Kane to test David Ospina.

Sweden are a stronger defensive unit than Colombia. They might lack a big name player, a strike of Kane’s ilk, but they are well-drilled, well-organised side. It’s for this reason that Southgate must come up with a Plan B for the quarter final tie on Saturday.

Southgate has the options to do this. Jamie Vardy is a striker capable of stretching the pitch and giving England an effective outlet on the counter attack. Marcus Rashford is another who can use his pace to open up pockets of space, not just for himself, but for others around him as well.

Then there’s Ruben Loftus-Cheek. It might be a good idea for the Chelsea midfielder, who spent last season on loan at Crystal Palace, to start the quarter final against Sweden. Loftus-Cheek was key in breaking through the lines of midfield and attack in the final 10 minutes of the opening group game against Tunisia, when England faced a defence content with sitting deep and plugging the gaps.

Sweden will most likely pose England a similar sort of challenge. There won’t be much space to exploit in behind unless they draw the Scandinavians out, or if someone like Loftus-Cheek can push and pull defenders out of position. Dele Alli, in this regard, doesn’t do enough and so Southgate should drop him to the bench, particularly with the Spurs man apparently carrying an injury at the moment.

England showed their nerve by seeing off Colombia after such a tight and tense affair. But now they must show their quality if they are to get past Sweden and make the semi finals of the World Cup for the first time since 1990. A Plan B might not be necessary, but the Colombia game showed they must have one regardless.

Do you have what it takes to challenge the best Fantasy Football Managers? If you’re up for the challenge then play www.fantasy-worldcup.com now! 

Switzerland need more pace in attack against Sweden


Vladimir Petkovic has worked wonders while in charge of Switzerland; his impact has been in evidence particularly since their Euro 2016 exit at the hands of Poland two years ago. They have lost just once in a competitive match from then to now, and only missed out on automatic qualification for the World Cup to Portugal on goal difference. The biggest thing Petkovic has instilled since taking charge in 2014 is a never-say-die attitude.

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World Cup Preview


After the first break of the tournament, the World Cup is ready to proceed with what promise to be four great days of football. The round of 16 will kick off later today with two of the most interesting match-ups on paper: France-Argentina and Uruguay-Spain.

Les Bleus have won two out of three matches in the group stage, but they have been rather uninspiring so far, squeaking by Australia and Peru and drawing with Denmark. The Albiceleste is the poster child of not playing up to their talent: they showed great character in the thriller against Nigeria, but their manoeuvre is still way too discombobulated. Both teams need to improve to go far, but they have an excellent launching pad early because eliminating a contender always gives you a big boost. Continue reading

World Cup 2018: Sweden targetting continued run


What a time to be a player, or a fan, of Sweden. Having almost missed out on qualification for this summer’s World Cup and getting through past former world champions Italy in the playoffs, few expected Janne Andersson’s team to do too much at the tournament. Often a solid team, they had struggled in qualification to the point that most would have put money on Italy breezing through, but Sweden held their nerve and made it to Russia. Not content with that, having been drawn in a group with world champions Germany as well as Mexico and South Korea, things looked like they would be tough at the tournament. On top of that, the question of whether or not Zlatan Ibrahimovic would come out of international retirement to feature hung over their heads.

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