Jude Bellingham: How the young star dominates England’s game

Jude Bellingham: How the young star dominates England’s game
Jude Bellingham: How the young star dominates England’s game

Jude Bellingham led England to victory over Serbia in the first game of the European Championships almost single-handedly and showed that he can do it all. He is a goalscorer, playmaker and defensive worker all in one. Now his team just needs to follow suit.

There he sat, the player of the match, answering the journalists’ questions with nervous charm. Jude Bellingham spoke quickly but with practice. The small trophy he had received for the award was on the table in front of him in the media room of the Veltins Arena. Every now and then he winked at the reporters and put on a boyish smile. At the same time, it was clear that the tension of his first European Championship appearance had not yet subsided. The first preliminary round match of the European Championship against the Serbs, which England had won with great difficulty 1-0 thanks to a goal – of course – from Bellingham, was probably still in his bones.

What a performance the 20-year-old had put in before – at least in the first half. With a powerful half-flying header in the 13th minute, Bellingham scored the winning goal, which he himself had set up. Tens of thousands of English fans, who clearly outnumbered the Serbian supporters, sang “Hey Jude” by the Beatles. A powerful choir celebrating their hero.

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Jude Bellingham wants to dominate the game

Even English football reporters couldn’t quite get away from it at the press conference afterwards. The enthusiasm culminated in the question of whether, given his performances and successes, it felt as if “there was nothing beyond him”. First he won the Champions League with Real Madrid and now this impressive performance. There is no room for God, let alone other footballers, that was understandable.

The former Dortmund player answered in the way that one must answer such an exaggeration wrapped up in a question: What else can you say? This was followed by routine sentences that he had said in a similar way before: “The truth is that I really enjoy playing football and when I go out there, I play with a fearlessness because I love it so much. It’s like a liberation for me. It’s my favorite thing in the world. It doesn’t feel like a job, it’s a pleasure.” No motivational coach could have found a better answer.

But it’s true. Bellingham wants to dominate the game. He manages to be a playmaker and goal scorer in one person, and at the same time he’s a defensive worker who isn’t above a tough tackle. Bellingham “steamed his way through” the game, wrote the football magazine “11Freunde”, which somehow made sense. Every opponent has to expect to come across Bellingham at some point during the 90 minutes. That makes him unpredictable. No other professional has such a presence on the pitch. For him, there is no classic heat map, a graphic that shows a player’s main position on the pitch. Bellingham’s heat map is the entire pitch.

The truth is more common

As with all exaggerations, the truth is of course more ordinary. Strictly speaking, he and his teammates only showed in the first 20 minutes why they, along with France, are among the biggest favorites to win the European Championship. After that, they withdrew more and more and increasingly left the game to the Serbs. The second half belonged almost entirely to the opponent, who simply failed to create any real scoring opportunities. Captain Harry Kane was the exact opposite of Bellingham; for him it was a game to forget. The Bayern striker was completely out of the game for the entire game, which was also due to the fact that the Serbs regularly fouled him. His only chance to score came towards the end of the game, but his header was deflected onto the crossbar by Serbian keeper Predag ​​Rajkovic with a lightning reflex.

The game had two completely different faces. Bellingham adapted and also took a long break, during which he concentrated on defensive work. However, he did not want to be too critical of the team in his assessment. When asked whether the slackening and passive style of play showed that the team was developing, he replied: “I cannot agree with that. I think the first half showed why we can score goals against any team, and the second half showed why we can keep a clean sheet against any team.”

That is the positive interpretation. It is an art to hold on to an early 1-0 lead against a strong opponent. The only problem that evening was that, despite Bellingham’s great show, it was not clear how much luck was involved for national coach Gareth Southgate’s team. The English will not always be able to rely on Bellingham.

Source: Stern

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