I can’t wait to watch the quarter-final between France and England on Saturday in the World Cup, because I think it has two young players who are at the top of the tournament: Kylian Mbappe and Jude Bellingham.
Bellingham was the star of England’s match for me. Sometimes he scores, sometimes he passes, and the timing of the box runs is perfect. He is in good shape and comes into this tournament with the right confidence for Borussia Dortmund. You can tell that he sees himself as a top potential player in the world of sport, and wants to show it off in the World Cup.
I hope the media will be careful with it because we saw a similar case a few years ago with Dele Alli, who sometimes presented as a leader for club and country. It is important for everyone that Bellingham is the protection of his development, because he has a bright and bright future in England.
His mind – his focus, his purpose to win – at 19 is not normal. In my life, I’ve seen it mostly in South American players, with Javier Mascherano (Argentina) being a good example, but I’ve also seen it in Spain’s Gavi in this tournament. Many young Englishmen have the work that Bellingham has.
My favorite photo from the game against Senegal was waiting to celebrate with Jordan Henderson after his exit for the first goal. It was clear.
Bellingham’s intelligence and passing game are also incredible. You could clearly see how he set up England’s second goal against Senegal. He shows his desire to get to the ball first, then shows his bravery when another defender tries to stop him in a foul while running at speed.
When you see the development of the counter attack, Bellingham uses the protection of Harry Kane to drive the ball up the pitch. At first it is not clear, but the action flows, he begins to see before himself.
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Everything you need to know about Jude Bellingham
When you come across this site, you always want to see where the knife is.
Bellingham is such a skilful player that Phil Foden knows how to run to the left, and Kane runs from left to right. You can see two Senegalese defenders closing in on his right, and at that moment the smart players do what he does: he turns his body and looks to play the ball to the position where his team dominates.
Maybe 50 percent of the players want to make a simple pass to Kane, but it’s the pass to Foden that literally opens up the game. Bellingham tries to get to his left foot because he knows the knife will be there. Kane changes his course because of Foden, and allows Bellingham to have two runs;
If Bellingham stays on the right foot, the last defender can try to anticipate the pass to Kane. But coming to the left, the defender cannot ignore Foden. That is defenseless. I played center back for Barcelona and we were always on the first foot, but when we launched attacks, a midfielder who could pass with both feet was more difficult to control than a midfield player who could pass with one foot.
You have faith in Bellingham and the movement around it. Foden doesn’t come inside and Kane tries to divert the defender’s attention. He uses his left foot to show Foden that the ball is going to go, and Kane knows that he can continue his run because he is not level with the last defender;
Foden sees space with one touch and gives Kane the opportunity to control and shoot, before he crosses and Edouard Mendy crosses the goal.
I could watch that action over and over again because it is an example of a perfect counter-attack.
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An England midfield of Bellingham, Henderson and Rice suddenly makes perfect sense
Bellingham just isn’t dangerous with the ball at his feet. He understands that there is more to running than running the ball with her. When you have the ball, everyone is looking at you, but a run in the post, a run of his own, can distract defenders and create space for the team in the right position.
So many people never understood the Barcelona team I played for. They were always talking about tiki-taka, but it wasn’t tiki-taka. It was almost an afterthought. The movement was heavy, the timing was right, and there was no tension. Every run has opened a gap – that’s how football is.
Bellingham’s goal against Iran showed his ability to create space.
Running in the morning is dangerous. You see the space – Iran’s defense has stopped and the course is clear. If the ball is played, it is not offside.
But it doesn’t stop there. It comes back in. Harry Maguire can go straight through Mount Mason and have England have three players against Iran’s two defenders;
The ball goes to the left side and a lack of communication in Iran is defended, but Bellingham recovers in the right moment. Even if the cross is inferior, the defender is in trouble;
The finish reminds me of Gerhard, Lampard, and Scholi; maybe more Scholes – great players who might sniff, see a gap in the defense and just step into it. These types of players don’t just worry about the strength of their opponents. They are worried about Bellingham, too, because his running from the second line is brilliant.
We once saw England with midfielders like Lampard or Gerrard who could shoot from distance. Now we see players like Bellingham with different characteristics physically and in terms of technical ability, close to great players from other top countries. The vision is clear and clever. It is not easy to have this vision in the speed of the game.
When he sees him running, he makes his teammates open up for the game, or when he has the ball, he doesn’t look 19. He looks like a player who has been playing at a high level for a long time. Full credit to Birmingham and Dortmund for his development – Dortmund players have developed brilliantly.
France will be a great test for England. At the top, the top team, the 2018 World Cup winners, are very organized. It is so difficult to open them in 4-4-2. They have quality in detail and are very effective in general. They’ve been playing for six, seven years and they have that consistency.
Mbappe is in blazing form, but so is Bellingham. That head, because the two players will open the game. His movement will be vital, and England will need other special talents, such as Foden and Bukayo Saka, to turn around and more experienced players to lead them.
This game will decide if they believe they can win the World Cup. I want to go far in this competition because I’m really impressed by Bellingham. He is going to be one of the best midfielders in the world, and he is already showing his talent.
We have to see more from him, I’m 100 percent sure of that.
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Bellingham turns games and headlines, a prodigy at handling hype
(Main graphic – images: Getty Images/design: Eamonn Dalton)