This article is part of Football FanCast’s The Chalkboard series, which provides a tactical insight into teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…
It’s always a bit odd watching your side match up against a team from whom you literally cannot name a single player, but Red Devils fans need to keep their eyes peeled for FC Astana’s Marin Tomasov.
Ah, the Europa League. You’d be hard pushed to find a fan of an elite club who enjoys traipsing across Europe to play teams that sound like a men’s cigar club – looking at you Dudelange – or a newly discovered disease – sorry FC Oleksandriya.
That said, there are some hidden gems in the continent’s second-tier competition, and while FC Astana’s place in the Kazakhstan Premier Liga may leave some United fans wondering if they’re even worth playing, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will have to shape his game-plan around stopping star man Tomasov.
39 goals and 43 assists in 98 games gives the versatile forward a ratio of 0.84 direct goal contributions per game. To put that into perspective, Marcus Rashford’s ratio since breaking into the first team at Old Trafford is just 0.43.
Now, it goes without saying that the level of competition Rashford faces on a weekly basis is far superior, but Tomasov has done the business against some good teams in Europe before too.
In the 2017/18 season, he bagged two goals and one assist across a two-legged tie with Portugal’s Sporting CP in the round of 32, and last year he scored once and assisted once in a 2-0 victory over Rennes, who let’s not forget gave Arsenal a scare, beating the Gunners 3-1 at home.
He averaged an impressive 2.2 shots, 1.8 key passes and 1.3 dribbles per game in Europe last term, and whenever his side are playing up to a difficult opposition, he is the man who steps up and shows what he is made of.
Tomasov is as versatile as they come – Transfermarkt list seven different positions – and his ability to pop up anywhere on the pitch with a goal or assist makes him a threat no matter who he is playing.
Make no mistake about it, the Red Devils could live to regret it if they overlook Astana’s Croatian born star.