Man City 2-1 Borussia Dortmund: Jude Bellingham explains why he should start with England

Jude Bellingham scored four goals in the Champions League by an English teenager. Two of them were in a match against City

Erling Haaland will grab the headlines, as he has already done so much in his short and astounding career with Manchester City, but he was quick to identify another very special young talent.

Haaland’s flying goal, executed with sporty performance and false flexibility for his giant stature, was the match winner as City scored twice in the past 10 minutes. Beat Borussia Dortmund 2-1 He made it the most points from two matches in the Champions League Group G.

But for long periods, the Premier League champions couldn’t put the gauntlet on a Dortmund side who had the calm, measure and style embodied by the young England midfielder at the center of their operation.

Haaland and Bellingham fell into each other’s arms after the final whistle, and the latter expressed his disbelief and frustration at the moment of City’s golden win in the match while the young Norwegian striker showed his mutual respect.

Bellingham, 19, has shown comfort in the elite stage of Europe before, but it was further evidence of the quality England manager Gareth Southgate cannot ignore as he finalizes his plans for the World Cup, which kicks off in Qatar in November.

Bellingham will develop further, as is normal with a very young player, but he already looks like a complete midfielder and it has become impossible to find any good reasons why Southgate would leave him out of the England starting line-up.

Southgate’s favorite midfield combination was the somewhat conservative pairing of West Ham’s Declan Rice and City’s summer signing from Leeds Calvin Phillips – but circumstances have changed.

Bellingham offers everything England could want in a team that needs to recover and refocus after recent results such as the 4-0 loss to Hungary at Molino.

Bellingham has a full range of passes. He has defensive qualities and Southgate seems to cherish his midfielders while also enjoying his high speed and his eye for goal, as he proved when he gave Dortmund the lead with a clever header from Marco Reus’ cross.

Jude Bellingham and Jack Grealish
Jude Bellingham was on both ends of the field on a frustrating night for Jack Grealish

The former Birmingham City youngster is also blessed with great agility, precise control in tight areas and has all the tools to become a world-class player. It’s no surprise that every big team in Europe will have their eyes set on Dortmund if they decide to sell next summer.

If Phillips is indeed a contender for Bellingham’s place, the contradictions in their current situations could be no more startling than they were at the Etihad Stadium.

While Bellingham was the dominant and most important character in the game until City emerged late with a John Stones piledriver goal and Haaland’s superb winner, Phillips was a spectator once again.

Phillips was thrown into Haaland as City boss Pep Guardiola ran the clock, but at the start of the game on Wednesday he had counted a total of 13 minutes and two games, without starts and just 23 touches, since the £45m switch from Elland Road that was designed To advance his career with club and national team.

It’s not Phillips’ fault as he is trying to work his way through Guardiola’s talent pool and his time will come but he must come quickly if any convincing argument is made that he can keep Bellingham out of the England squad.

Also making a much more meaningful contribution to England’s World Cup was Bellingham’s Jack Grealish, who struggled to make any kind of impact before being substituted right after Bellingham put Dortmund ahead after 56 minutes.

Grealish’s gaze lingered on his left shoulder as the numbers rose to suggest he knew his race had been run and it was no surprise when Guardiola removed him after a hopelessly disappointing night.

For a player who lives on confidence and is clearly too desperate for success after his £100m move from Aston Villa, Grealish appears to fall short on this prized commodity at the moment.

Grealish spent a lot of time getting back towards his goal, was unusually conservative in his choice of pass and his end product was lacking. It could be back in a moment of inspiration, but City have the fortunes they need to find shape and speed.

Then there is Haaland.

It may have been inevitable that this exceptional 22-year-old would have the last word against his former club, but the way he settled this match was special even for the Norway striker.

Haaland arrived at Manchester City with huge expectations but he exceeded them. It’s mid-September, but observers are already short on superlatives.

Guardiola, so used to being asked about Haaland that he has come forward with questions about John Stones before moving on to what has become his regular schedule, was moved to make a comparison between the Norwegian’s goal and his great mentor and influence Johan Cruyff.

He likened his goal to Cruyff’s famous strike for Barcelona against Atlético Madrid, and mentioning Guardiola Haaland in the same sentence as the man who formulated his entire footballing philosophy is the highest praise.

That’s why City were so determined to beat the likes of Real Madrid until the signing of Haaland. They needed a point of difference, especially in this tournament where they experienced a lot of “what could have been” moments, and Haaland is exactly that.

City were in danger of letting this match slip away from them but they hold an unshakable belief, bolstered by the fact that a goal always seems to be just a moment away when Haaland is around. Add this to their recent comeback list.

Haaland’s father, former Manchester City midfielder Alf Inge, appeared ecstatic in the stands at the Etihad, although his attempt to reenact the goal was more enthusiastic than elegant.

It was the last word for the new young City star – but Bellingham made an eloquent statement about why he could now be anything other than a key England player.