English clubs have deserved to struggle in Champions League - Ian Rush

21 April 2017 08:54

Ian Rush believes English clubs have deserved to struggle in the Champions League.

The Premier League has provided only two semi-finalists in the five years since Chelsea became the last English club to lift the trophy in 2012.

None of England's quartet made the semis again this season, with Tottenham failing to progress from the group stage, Arsenal and Manchester City bowing out in the last 16 and champions Leicester suffering a quarter-final defeat to Atletico Madrid this week.

"It's disappointing, but it's what they (the Premier League clubs) deserve," said tournament ambassador Rush, who made the semi-final draw in Switzerland on Friday which paired Madrid neighbours Real and Atletico and Juventus and Monaco together.

"You've got to work hard to get there, and you've got no divine right to make the semi-final.

"Hopefully next year it will be better, but what you have to realise is that the English Premier League is the most demanding league in the world.

"It's very difficult to do well in that and also do well in the Champions League.

"You need a strong squad to do that."

Rush and a Football Association of Wales delegation returned to Cardiff after the lunchtime draw to parade the Champions League trophies in this season's host city.

Cardiff City Stadium will host the women's showpiece on June 1, with Manchester City possible final opponents.

The 74,500-capacity Principality Stadium - which will be rechristened the National Stadium of Wales on the night to meet UEFA regulations preventing a commercial title from being used - will stage the men's final on June 3.

"I'm very biased but I said from day one my dream final would be Juventus against Real Madrid for obvious reasons," Rush told Press Association Sport.

"I played for Juventus and I'd like to see Real because of Gareth Bale.

"All the Welsh public want to see Real there because they want to see Gareth in the final, that would be a dream come true.

"But it's not going to be easy for them because Atletico are a very good working side.

"Real are favourites as they've got more world-class players, but don't underestimate Atletico because they work really hard as a team and that's sometimes the secret of success."

And former Wales striker Rush is delighted to see his country back on the world football stage after the success of Chris Coleman's squad in reaching the semi-finals of Euro 2016 last summer.

"It's unbelievable for Wales. Does it get any better than this?" Rush said.

"We had a great 2016 with Wales at the Euros, we took it to a different level and this is taking it to a different level again.

"People around the world now know about Wales.

"People used to say Wales is part of England, but now they know what we're doing and I think this will be more special."

Source: PA