Iker Casillas is hoping that Real Madrid can emulate the likes of Manchester United and Celtic by winning a historic treble this term.
For all their success down the years, the Spanish giants have never managed a clean sweep of both domestic trophies and the Champions League in the same season.
However, under the shrewd guidance of Carlo Ancelotti, Los Blancos are three points clear at the top of La Liga, into the final of the Copa del Rey and strong favourites to advance to the Champions League quarter-finals at the expense of Schalke.
Casillas has won almost every club trophy available since making his debut for Real in 1999 and also captained Spain to two European Championship wins (2008 and 2012) and World Cup glory in 2006.
But the legendary stopper is hungry for more silverware and is desperate to see Madrid join a seven-strong band of treble-winning teams that includes United’s class of 1999 and Celtic’s 1967 ‘Lisbon Lions’.
“I’d like the last piece of news for this season to say that Real Madrid had won the treble,” said Casillas.
“That on May 24th, Real Madrid won the first treble in its history.
“We know it is difficult because there are other teams that also want to win titles.
“But we are where we want to be right now, which is fighting in all three competitions.”
In an exclusive interview with bwin, which you can watch by opening the player at the top of this page, Casillas also discusses the favourite moment of his career, who he considers to be Schalke’s danger man, his love of padel, and more.
Real Madrid are currently priced at 2/5 to build a first-leg lead over the Bundesliga side in Gelsenkirchen on Wednesday night, with the draw available at 15/4 and the hosts rated as 23/4 outsiders.
In addition to United and Celtic, the five other teams to have won the treble are Ajax (1972), PSV (1988), Barcelona (2009), Inter Milan (2010) and Bayern Munich (2013).
Bayern Munich made the headlines last week for losing to an under-strength Manchester City side in the Champions League and then again yesterday for drawing Arsenal in the last 16 for the second year running.
But now you must prepare to witness the European champions as you’ve never seen them before.
Regular readers will know that here at bwin HQ, we love to use our Skills Series videos to put the technique of the best players on the planet to the test.
In the past, we’ve brought you Gareth Bale wowing his new Real Madrid team-mates with some nifty footwork.
Then there was Carlos Tevez bossing a Juventus-themed challenge.
And who could forget Manchester United star Wayne Rooney scoring an incredible bicycle kick while blindfolded?
However, we quickly realised ahead of this latest instalment that Bayern are an exceptional case.
Seeing as Pep Guardiola’s men have been almost peerless on a football pitch in the past 18 months, some lateral thinking was required to really take them out of their comfort zone.
Enter forward Thomas Muller, midfield enforcer Javi Martinez and Brazilian defensive duo Dante and Rafinha – on to a basketball court.
What happened next was as impressive as it was unexpected.
In the video – which you can watch by opening the player at the top of this page – the quartet appear to make the transition from foot-to-eye to hand-to-eye coordination effortlessly, peppering the basket at will.
The sort of teamwork famously demanded by Guardiola is also frequently on display as they pull off all manner of alley-oops and slam dunks, passing some tricky tests with flying colours.
And if you’re still hungry for more after checking out the footage, how about the chance to win a shirt signed by the entire Bayern Munich squad too?
Don’t say we’re not good to you…enjoy!
Fans of Manchester United, Manchester City and West Ham know all about Carlos Tevez’s abilities with a ball at his feet and we’ve got exclusive evidence that he’s lost none of his sparkle since moving to Juventus.
Open the player above to watch the Argentine nimbly dribbling in between multiple moving car tyres and hammering shots through some almost impossibly small targets, both static and mobile.
Tevez’s fancy footwork is the undoubted highlight of the second instalment of the new bwin Skills Series, a six-part collection of videos in which we put the technique of some of the finest players on the planet to the test.
A few weeks ago, we brought you the world’s most expensive footballer, Gareth Bale, dazzling Real Madrid team-mates Karim Benzema, Luka Modric and Jese Rodriguez with some amazing rugby ball work.
And judging by the new video, Tevez was clearly determined to follow suit by reminding everyone of the talents he displayed regularly during his trophy-laden seven-year stay in the Premier League before departing for Turin last summer.
The 29-year-old was joined by Juve chums Fabio Quagliarella, Andrea Barzagli and Fernando Llorente to take our obstacle course-themed challenges and ended up comfortably topping the leaderboard on five points.
Barzagli could only manage two points, while Quagliarella and Llorente, with whom Tevez has dovetailed increasingly effectively in recent weeks, were forced to settle for a solitary point apiece.
The next assignment on Tevez’s list will presumably be scoring in Sunday’s huge clash between Juventus and Napoli in Serie A – an eventuality you can back at 5/4 by clicking the ‘Add to Betslip button’ at the bottom of this page.
Keep your eyes peeled for part three of the bwin Skills Series…
Real Madrid may have paid Tottenham Hotspur a world-record transfer fee to sign Gareth Bale for his incredible skills with a football, but we’ve got exclusive evidence that he is equally special when it comes to kicking a rugby ball.
Open the player above to watch the £86 million man size up a chipped cross before hammering an astonishing volley from the edge of the area straight into a water bottle placed on the angle of crossbar and post by former Spurs team-mate Luka Modric.
Just to reinforce the point, Bale then unleashes a drop-kick with the kind of unerring accuracy that even countryman Leigh Halfpenny, the famously dead-eyed full-back for the Wales rugby union team, would be proud of.
Both pieces of fancy footwork draw audible gasps of amazement from Real colleagues Modric, Karim Benzema and Jese, who also show off some fancy footwork with the oval-shaped ball, plus a squash ball and an exercise ball.
Bale’s impressive training ground display serves as a timely reminder of his talents ahead of the first El Clasico of the season this weekend, for which he could return to the Madrid starting line-up after recovering from a thigh injury.
Home advantage sees Barcelona as the current 39/50 favourites to win the battle of La Liga’s two behemoths, with the draw available at 14/5 and Los Merengues ranked as 3/1 outsiders.
But regardless of what happens at the Nou Camp on Saturday, if you like what you see in the video, be sure to keep a close eye on news.bwin.com/en/ and the official bwin YouTube, Facebook and Twitter channels.
Bale and his Bernabeu buddies were strutting their stuff for the first instalment of a brand new initiative, the bwin Skills Series, so there will be plenty more where that came from in the coming months.
Through our partnerships with Real Madrid, Manchester United, Bayern Munich, Juventus, Marseille and Anderlecht, we will be challenging stars who regularly grace the Champions League to show just how good they really are with our range of technique-based assignments.
The results, as already shown by our quartet of galacticos, are likely to be spectacular.
Poor old Gareth Bale struggled with his keepy-uppy skills during his Real Madrid unveiling and now Manchester United legend Dwight Yorke has put the former Tottenham man to shame… by juggling a playing card.
The 1999 treble-winning hitman joined fellow ex-United stars Norman Whiteside and Quinton Fortune at partypoker’s recent ‘Road to Old Trafford’ tournament, which marked the launch of the company’s new poker product.
At the heart of the revamped partypoker.com platform are a range of social real-money gaming features that encourage players to accept missions, see them through to completion and then receive commensurate rewards.
It was this binding theme that brought the United heroes together with magician Damien O’Brien, who dazzled them with some card tricks before challenging them to create an ‘abracadabra’ moment of their own.
Yorke took up the baton impressively and after a couple of failed attempts, managed to pass a remarkable kick-up test with a card, which you can see by watching our exclusive footage at the top of this page.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for Fortune, who had little joy with the cards before switching to a football and revealing his best ‘trick’ – making one of the panels disappear from the ceiling.
“I didn’t have much luck with the cards today, but certainly proved why the football at Old Trafford is played on the pitch and not in the conference rooms,” said the South African.
“Fair play to Yorkie, he nailed it eventually!”
Of course, this isn’t the first time that Yorke has showed that he still possesses some of the old magic that delighted the Stretford End during a successful four-year stint at Old Trafford.
Earlier this year, the Trinidadian and former strike partner Andrew Cole teamed up to test their famously telepathic connection against the current United vintage of Wayne Rooney, Danny Welbeck and Javier Hernandez in bwin’s Blindfold Challenge.
Arjen Robben is relishing the start of a new era at FC Bayern, with the ex-Chelsea star full of praise for boss Pep Guardiola and what he will bring to the club.
It has been suggested in some quarters that the former Barcelona manager has his work cut out after seeing predecessor Jupp Heynckes deliver the treble last term.
However, Robben insists the players are excited about Guardiola’s philosophy – which brought him an incredible 14 trophies in four seasons at the Nou Camp – and are feeling confident about the challenges lying ahead.
“I like [his philosophy] and so does the team,” said the Dutchman in an exclusive interview with bwin, which you can watch by opening the player at the top of the page.
“It’s a new start for me with a new manager and I have a really good feeling about it.
“I have said it a few times already but I think that I can still take a few steps further forwards and I hope it will be a successful season.”
Guardiola has already signed playmaker Thiago Alcantara from his former employers in a £17m deal, while Mario Gotze was lured from Borussia Dortmund and defender Jan Kirchhoff has arrived from Mainz.
With the nucleus of last year’s all-conquering team still in place – only Mario Gomez has departed to Fiorentina – Robben believes Guardiola will be focusing on evolution rather than revolution.
“Although there are quite a few good new ideas, we don’t need to exaggerate as we’re not suddenly going to play completely differently,” he said.
“I think the most important thing is that, with the exception of Gomez, all of the old players are still here and that we have gained three very good new players.”
Robben, of course, penned the final chapter of Bayern’s incredible campaign by scoring the winning goal in the Champions League final as Dortmund were defeated 2-1 at Wembley in May.
Jurgen Klopp’s men were also forced to play second fiddle to Bayern in the Bundesliga and the German Cup, but they drew first blood this season with their recent 4-2 victory in the German Super Cup.
Robben admits he is expecting another strong challenge from their main rivals for domestic silverware.
“I think Dortmund will certainly be up there again and they will possibly be our biggest opponent,” he said.
“But I also believe that there are a number of other very good teams in the Bundesliga. It will be a huge challenge for us and we are all looking forward to getting started again.”
Robben will expect to be involved as Bayern bring the curtain up on the new league season on Friday against Borussia Monchengladbach at the Allianz Arena, with bwin making them strong 13/100 favourites for the win.
But despite witnessing the Bavarians thump Gladbach 5-1 in the recent Telekom Cup pre-season tournament, the 29-year-old is taking nothing for granted.
“It was good to beat them but that was it,” he added.
“Our preparations are continuing and we need to keep up our progress so that we are 100% ready to face Gladbach again.”
Bayern are as short as 1/5 to retain the Bundesliga title, while they are 9/4 favourites to win the Champions League again and a price of 31/4 is on offer for them to repeat their treble-winning exploits.
And if they are to enjoy another successful campaign, one thing is for sure: an increasingly mature Robben is likely to play an integral role.
It’s fair to say that Bayern Munich star Arjen Robben had a nightmare in last year’s Champions League final against Chelsea.
The Dutchman missed a host of presentable chances to put the Bavarians out of sight in front of an expectant home crowd at the Allianz Arena and then watched on in horror as Petr Cech saved his penalty in extra-time.
Of course, Robben’s fluffed effort from 12 yards eventually proved costly as Chelsea went on to lift the trophy after winning a dramatic penalty shoot-out.
However, the painful memory of seeing the likes of Cech, Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba – former team-mates from his time at Stamford Bridge – celebrating a landmark success will be the furthest thing from Robben’s mind on Saturday.
Bayern have the perfect opportunity to make up for the Chelsea debacle as they take on Borussia Dortmund in their latest attempt to prevail in European football’s showpiece fixture.
The Bavarians are the strong 67/100 favourites to win inside 90 minutes and having wrapped up the Bundesliga title at a canter and with the German Cup final to come, Robben believes victory at Wembley would cap an incredible campaign.
“It’s the crowning moment,” said the 29-year-old in an exclusive interview with bwin (which you can watch by opening the player at the top of this page).
“If we win the title, we will have had a perfect season. That’s what we’re all working towards. We are completely focused on the final.”
Bayern booked their place at Wembley with a stunning 7-0 aggregate demolition of Barcelona in the last four – a result which sent shockwaves around the continent.
And while Robben dismisses suggestions that the victory automatically installs Bayern as Europe’s best team, he also admits that such a comprehensive triumph over the much-heralded Catalans was particularly special.
“The semi-final was a personal highlight for me,” he said.
“When you play against a team that has dominated Europe for the last five or six years and one that everyone talks about and then go on to beat them in such a dominant fashion, it is naturally sensational.”
Open the player above to see Robben discuss the strengths of Dortmund, the importance of ending Bayern’s 12-year wait for a Champions League crown, whether the Bundesliga is now the best league in Europe, and more.