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I'm continuously amazed by how incompetently Manchester United can be run as a club yet still maintain some level of success. This is a club that had put together a young and exciting team that might not have been ready to challenge for a Premier League or Champions League title but was headed in the right direction when it suddenly decided to turn it all over on its head and toss Cristiano Ronaldo into the mix. So now, a fun and exciting team to watch has to change its entire identity to suit one aging superstar, and things went about how you'd expect them to. Ronaldo scored goals, and United weren't as good.

Further complicating matters, United had a manager in Ole Gunnar Solsksaer who was clearly in over his head. It's not that he's a bad manager, but he wasn't ready for the responsibility of running Manchester United and then giving him Ronaldo to manage only made things worse. It was obvious to the world that it wasn't going to work out, but United kept their head in the sand and insisted it would. United kept him even when it was the perfect opportunity to fire him before the international break and give a new manager time to get to know the team. Then, after getting trounced by Watford -- WATFORD! -- in the first match after the break, somehow they saw the light and made the move.

Now it looks like Ralf Rangnick will take over for the placeholder manager Michael Carrick, and I'm sure none of this will impact United's chances of finishing in the top four. I'm not saying it won't work out in the end because money solves a lot of problems in this sport, and there are reasons to be optimistic about Rangnick but there's a difference between spending wisely and just throwing money at a problem blindly. I'm not sure the people who run Manchester United understand that last part. Maybe you'll win enough money on these bets this weekend and use it to save them. All odds are via Caesars Sportsbook.

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Juventus vs. Atalanta, Sat. 12 p.m, Paramount+

Speaking of clubs that quickly came to regret building their entire team around Cristiano Ronaldo in his mid-30s, Juventus got off to a slow start this season. Selling Ronaldo to Manchester United left the club in a bit of disarray as everybody had to learn what their new roles were now that they weren't "get the ball back and give it to Ronaldo as quickly as possible." While things aren't running as smoothly as Juve or new manager Max Allegri would like, there are signs of improvement, and Juve has been much stronger defensively at home in league play.

While Juve has scored only seven goals in six home Serie A matches, they've allowed only six on an expected goals (xG) allowed of 5.0. Compare that to seven away matches where the xG allowed is 8.7. On the other side, while Atalanta has won five of six away matches and outscored opponents 14-6, those numbers are misleading. The five wins have come against Torino, Salernitana, Empoli, Sampdoria, and Cagliari. Not a single one of those teams is in the top half of the Serie A table, and three of them are squarely in a relegation battle. Atalanta has also been quite lucky to allow only six goals in those matches, considering their xG allowed of 8.9. I think this match will resemble Atalanta's trip to San Siro when they drew Inter 2-2 but were extremely lucky to do so, considering Inter had an xG of 3.9 that day. The Pick: Juventus (+114)

Manchester City vs. West Ham, Sun. 9 a.m, Peacock

West Ham are good, and have been good for a while. They aren't good enough to win the Premier League, but could certainly compete for a Champions League spot and possibly even win the Europa League this season. But West Ham are not a deep squad, and despite the team's hot start, I worry about how playing in European competitions could catch up to them as we head into the busiest part of the season. I suspect we might start to see some of that impact this weekend.

This season, West Ham have been excellent away from home, picking up 13 points in six matches, but their situation isn't that different from Atalanta's. The Hammers four road wins have come against Newcastle United, Leeds United, Everton, and Aston Villa. There's also a scoreless draw against Southampton and last week's 1-0 loss to Wolverhampton. Now they're going to the Etihad to face Manchester City, and I do not like their odds of coming home with any points. Unfortunately, there's not much value to be found on the money line, but I do think there's plenty of value to be found on Man City's team total. Man City are averaging 3.3 goals per game during 10 home matches across all competitions this season. The Pick: Manchester City Over 2.5 (+100)

Roma vs. Torino, Sun. 12 p.m, Paramount+

I've mentioned this before, but I want to hammer it over your heads. Betting the over in Serie A matches has been a solid play for the last few seasons. A narrative surrounds Italian soccer that makes people believe it's slow and low-scoring, but it's anything but. Entering the weekend, the average Serie A match has had 3.1 goals scored per match, the highest of Europe's top five leagues (Germany's Bundesliga is second at 2.98). This week I'm hoping to capitalize on a Roma attack that's been running hot lately.

After an ugly stretch in late October, Roma have kicked things back into gear, scoring at least two goals in five of their last six matches. This week they'll be hosting a Torino side that have been difficult to break through away from home, as they play defensively, but I'm confident in Roma's ability to break them down and expose some cracks. Also, Roma can get a little loose defensively, particularly when they dominate possession as I expect it to in this match. Roma can be caught on the counter, and Torino has a good shot at getting Roma at least once. The Pick: Over 2.5 (-135)

Weekend Parlay

Thankfully, the parlay's losing streak came to an end last week and saved us from losing a bunch of money. Here's hoping it increases our profit this week. It pays +171.

  • Arsenal (-215)
  • Liverpool (-345)
  • Bayern Munich (-1200)
  • PSG (-310)



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