The Scott Ruscoe Column: Champions League, Euro 2020 and scoring keepers

Reporter:

Barrie White

It’s a tough one to say who’s going to win the Champions League – I’d like it to be an English club.

Manchester City are very strong and I would say they could go all the way, but then you have to look at some of the experienced ones such as Barcelona or Real Madrid. 

PSG might be there. I would like to see Liverpool get near the final but I don’t think it’ll happen, though I do think this year, it might be an English side that wins it.

If you look at the five English teams which have qualified, they’ve all got coaches who have good experience of winning in Europe. But it is indicative of the English clubs’ spending power that there’s five teams in the last 16.

Manchester City and United have both spent a lot, while Chelsea, Liverpool and Tottenham have also spent a bit. Add that to the fact they’ve got top coaches, it always helps their cause.

Having five teams progress is great for the Premier League – people say that Spain is the best but I think England is on a par with what that brings. 

If we discount the continental clubs, I think Manchester City are best equipped to win it because of how they’re doing domestically.

The loss to Shakhtar Donetsk was their first defeat in 25 plus games this year. The momentum is with them and while he changed the side for their trip to Ukraine, they all seem to know how to play that way.

City are the best equipped to do it. Liverpool, despite the goals they’ve scored, are going to get caught out defensively against top sides. If the games were just one game, I would say they have a chance, but it’s over two legs.

Can they hold out defensively against top sides? I’m not sure and it’s well known I am a huge Liverpool fan. City will have the tactical nous while Jose Mourinho can set his teams up to stifle opponents whereas Liverpool can’t play any other way than all-out attack.

I don’t they know how to shut up shop against some of the bigger teams. Chelsea had a great season in 2016/17 but this year, I don’t know what’s happening. Watching them in mid-week and then on Saturday, they seem to be missing a spark.

They may get to the last eight but I can’t see them winning it. But obviously the likes of Barcelona etc are going to be there. 

Euro 2020 is going to be an interesting tournament – it’ll be good to see the games spread about.

But while it was good to see Wembley get sevens games, it was disappointing to see that Cardiff didn’t get any games at all. Logistically, the tournament will be difficult for teams getting around but as a spectacle, Wembley is such a great stadium.

Obviously Tottenham are using it at the minute. Holding the Euro 2020 games there gives English, Welsh, Irish and Scottish fans the chance of watching the final.

I’ve only been to the new Wembley once but it’s a great place to watch a game and a final there would be a great spectacle.

The new format will be an interesting change for everyone – it started to change a few tournaments back with co-hosts, like Holland and Belgium as well as Poland and Ukraine. It’s good for football fans and if it’s spread around, it gives more people chance to get there.

The World Cup in Russia this summer will be hard as there’s games thousands of miles apart. You sometimes look at these events and wonder why they put them there, though obviously money talks at the end of day with the sponsorship.

Up there with Half Man Half Biscuit’s Even Men With Steel Hearts (Love to see a dog on the pitch), everyone loves seeing a goalkeeper score.

Alberto Brignoli claimed Benevento’s first-ever point in Serie A when his flying diving header found its way into AC Milan’s net to make it 2-2 last week.

I saw it on Twitter and it was great. It would have been Gennaro Gattuso’s first win as Milan boss so I was a little bit gutted for him. But a keeper scoring is always great to see.

I remember Jose Luis Chilavert scoring his free kicks and they were brilliant. It’s always great to see when a keeper gets thrown up into the other box – it’s exciting. 

They’re not used to attacking the ball the other way and sometimes they can be a hindrance to the attacking team too; they just get in the way. But it’s great and is what football is all about.

Events like this teaches us to always expect the unexpected and anything can happen in a football match which is what makes it the beautiful game.

I would trust Paul Harrison, the TNS goalkeeper, in the other box as if the ball dropped to him from 15-18 yards out, he’s as good as any of our outfielders with his shooting.

He’s not as good attacking the ball for a header because he’s only six foot, but I would certainly send him up for him to have a shot or if someone laid the ball off to him. 

The lads would be itching to set him to get a strike off and finish because he’s very good from that range.

Email:

barrie.white@nwn.co.uk

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