Marty Thompson, Charlie O’Connor Clarke, and John Molinaro discuss whether or not we’ll see more goals this CPL season in the latest episode of CanPL.ca’s Virtual Newsroom. Click here to watch.
European top-flight football has brought an unusual amount of goals upon its return following a lengthy layover due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Take the Premier League, for example, where seven of 25 matches (28 per cent) have been won by three goals or more.
Almost a third of Serie A matches have featured more than five goals, with Sassuolo-Inter Milan, Atalanta-Lazio, and Roma-Sampdoria producing 14 goals in a wild matchday last Wednesday. While fun for viewers, managers have found it frustrating – just ask Inter Milan coach Antonio Conte.
This spike in goals can be naturally attributed to the quick restart – teams have had to make hasty returns from self-isolation, with a lack of preparation leaving opportunities for miscommunication to wreak havoc.
But, could we see a heightened goalscoring count when play eventually resumes in the Canadian Premier League?
When polled by CanPL.ca, three of four CPL coaches said they expected fewer goals than normal, with one adding they anticipate “cagey atmospheres, like a World Cup group stage.”
It’s interesting to hear, considering the European examples, but as pointed out by one coach, European leagues are nearing the end of their season. For CPL clubs returning, it’ll be day one of the season, with every point at a premium, so teams may elect to play conservatively.
On the other hand, the frequency of matches could present challenges to CPL defenders, as playing twice a week in the summer heat can be a tricky proposition. Just ask CPL teams in 2019 – some of the greatest moments (and lapses of defensive judgment) came on those red-hot Summer days.
As CPL Commissioner David Clanachan has said, the league will be looking to play “as many games as possible” when the restarts comes. A compressed schedule could be a boon for attackers.
Besides, most CPL clubs have yet to establish a defensive “core” as they enter Year 2 – such defensive instability also hints at a fruitful 2020 season for the league’s strikers.
None of the eight clubs have entered the final stage of return-to-training which would lead to full-team walkthroughs on tactics and positioning – and a lack of on-pitch organization will always lead to more goals.
One CPL coach suggested teams would spend “almost all” of their limited time with a full squad focused on defensive shape, adding that it’s easier to teach defensive organization in a closed environment than attacking movement.
But, it should be noted, some clubs will be building defensive chemistry almost from scratch.
Atlético Ottawa has yet to play an 11-a-side game, while Valour FC and HFX Wanderers FC could feature entirely new backlines from last season. That won’t bode well, especially considering some of the league’s more-lethal attacks (Cavalry FC, Forge FC, and Pacific FC) have held together year-over-year.
The question remains: Will attacking chemistry from 2019 out-count a rushed attempt to organize a defence? Time will only tell.