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John Barnes: England need a bit of luck if they’re going to reach the final of the Euros

John Barnes believes that England shouldn't be expected to reach in Euro 2021 final
John Barnes believes that England shouldn't be expected to reach in Euro 2021 final

BettingOdds.com has teamed up with England legend and former Liverpool and Newcastle winger John Barnes to give us his insight in the lead up to this summer's Euro 2021 Championships…

With the expectation of an entire nation pinned on the shoulders of Gareth Southgate and the England squad, many fans are backing the Three Lions to win their first major tournament in 55 years as they head into the Euros this summer.

Despite the optimism surrounding this current crop of England stars, John Barnes believes that the national side will still require some luck if they’re going to make it to the final of competition. 

Continuing our series of interviews with the former England number eleven, John tells Bettingodds.com why reaching the quarter-finals should be classed as an achievement for the national team, which club is best suited for Jadon Sancho and why Everton would be a good move for ex-Liverpool midfielder Philippe Coutinho.

Expectations are high for England ahead of Euro 2020, with this current crop of players being installed as favourites by numerous bookmakers to win the tournament. What would you class as an achievement for the squad this summer?

“Reaching the quarter-finals or the semi-finals and anything else is a bonus because that’s what we’ve done. 

“When we say things like ‘We should be getting to the final’, well then look at the Champions League or the FA Cup for example, people say things like ‘Oh well we should have a good cup run’, how can you predict a good cup run when you don’t know who you’re going to play?

“What if Tottenham thinks they’re going to have a good cup run, but then they draw Manchester City away in the third round. Chances are that Manchester City are going to beat them and advance to the next round.

“In regards to the European Championships and the seedings and the group stages, the top seeds will get through to the quater-finals, but once you’re at that stage, if the other group stage didn’t go your way, then you can be playing a team like France earlier on in the tournament than you expected. That’s why people shouldn’t be demanding England to reach the final of Euro 2020 or win it. 

“What you should say is that with the way the seeding is at the tournament and the players we have, we should at least be reaching the quarter-finals or the semi-finals and with a bit of luck we can beat teams like Belgium or France. Should we beat them? Well on paper no as they’re higher ranked than we are, so do we believe that just because we’re England we should win?

“England have been very consistent of late in getting to where they should get to.”

Last week it was announced that Jadon Sancho was named in Gareth Southgate’s 26-man Euro 2020 squad. He is currently linked with a move to the Premier League, which club do you believe he’d be best suited to?

“First of all, any top player is going to be linked with the biggest clubs, whether that’s Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester United, Real Madrid or Barcelona. So this whole idea of being linked with a club means nothing. 

“You just have to look at the player that’s available, the amount he’s going to cost and the clubs that can afford him, then you can put two and two together and normally you’d get six or seven.

“As far as Jadon Sancho is concerned, out of the clubs interested in him I’d say that Manchester United is probably the best destination for him. 

“At Liverpool I’d prefer a much more direct player. Jadon is very skilful and very tricky, but I believe that Ousmane Dembele would suit Liverpool out of all the potentially available players in that position. 

“Jadon Sancho is going to have to pick the club that suits his football best rather than the stature of the club. His teammate Erling Haaland has the same problem. 

“Out of those clubs, then Manchester United will be best suited to Jadon Sancho. Are they interested? Does he want to go there? I don’t know.”

Euro 2021 Betting

Liverpool pulled off a late season shock by finishing third in the Premier League and qualifying for next season’s Champions League. Do you believe that qualifying for the Champions League will result in Liverpool spending big in this summer’s transfer market?

“Of course for a club like Liverpool it’s always important to be in the Champions League, but you wouldn’t say that it’s more important for them as it is Arsenal, Tottenham or any of the other big clubs.

“Leicester will be disappointed that they missed out and it would have been just as important for them to have been in the Champions League as it’s great to be there.

“Will Liverpool spend big this summer? I don’t think we’re going to see any side spend big this summer. Obviously the pandemic has been ongoing for the past year and we still don’t know what the future holds, so I doubt teams such as Liverpool will be spending big in the summer.

“They will strengthen the squad but I think that’s largely dependent on who goes. Liverpool have Virgil Van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip coming back, so that’s like three new signings. That’s why I’d be surprised if Liverpool spend big this summer unless they lose players, which is always a possibility.”

Last summer Liverpool acquired the signature of Thiago Alcantara. What did you make of his first summer as a Liverpool player?

“He’s actually been one of Liverpool’s most consistent players, but Liverpool need time to adjust to him. He’s been great individually and you can see the quality that he has.

“I feel that Jurgen Klopp felt that Liverpool needed more quality in the midfield on the odd occasion over the last couple of years as James Milner, Jordan Henderson and Georginio Wijnaldum aren’t as creative as Thaigo in terms of the vision that he has. 

“Unfortunately for Thiago, last season Liverpool weren’t as secure at the back as they’ve been in recent times. Liverpool ideally needed three Jordan Henderson’s in the midfield last year to help protect the back four and Thiago isn’t that type of player. 

“Players like Thiago don’t help a side that’s struggling defensively and that isn’t a criticism of him. In terms of Thiago’s individual performances, I think he’s been fantastic.

“Next year when we’re more solid at the back, we will see better team performances that Thiago will play a huge part in.”

Rumours last week began circulating that Barcelona are preparing to offer Philippe Coutinho back to Liverpool to cover what they still owe for the Brazilian playmaker. The bookmakers however suggest that Coutinho could be on his way to Liverpool’s neighbours Everton. Do you believe he would be a good signing for the toffees and how do you believe Liverpool fans would react to him moving to one of their arch rivals?

“I think it would be fine for him to go. Had he left Liverpool and they weren’t as successful as they are then I believe they would be very critical of him, but after he left we won the league, so if it’s a good move for him then it’s a good move for us.

“While he was at Liverpool he was a good character, he was humble and he had a good relationship with the fans so I don’t believe they will feel like it’s a treacherous move.

“Would a move to Everton be good for him? Only time will tell as he needs to choose a club that suits the way he plays.

“He would do a better job than James Rodriguez. For Everton, I believe it would be a fantastic move if they can get him, but do they have the money for him and the finances to offer him the wages he wants? Who knows?

“I think it would be a great move for Everton.”

Onto another of your former clubs Newcastle United. It’s being suggested that their owner Mike Ashley is hoping to sell the club before the end of June. Do you think the criticism of Ashley has been unfair during his time with the club?

“Well he does put money into the club. It’s quite tribal in Newcastle and Mike Ashley is from the south and some used to describe him and his associates as the ‘Cockney Mafia’. 

“There are things he may have said or done in the past which Newcastle fans would have found disrespectful. Newcastle fans are obviously going to know more than me, but from the players they’ve bought, the money they’ve spent and the salaries they’ve paid then it seems as if football fans are just hard to please. 

“I however believe that the players and Steve Bruce have done a fantastic job.”

England Euro 2021 Betting

Mauricio Pochettino is the current bookies' favourite to be named the new manager of Tottenham Hotspur. Can you realistically see a return to Spurs happening for the current PSG manager?

“I think it’s too early for him to come back. He hasn’t been at PSG for that long. If you look at the managerial merry-go-round then who would replace him at PSG if he was to leave?

“Is it wise to go back? Would he go back? He knows the place well. I know nothing can surprise you in football but that for me is a non-starter.”

Keep tuned for more John Barnes content for BettingOdds.com as we lead up to Euro 2021 beginning on June 11th.

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