Champions League moves and failures: Jude Bellingham, Man City hoodoo, professional Chelsea | Football News

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Christian Pulisic (right) embodied Chelsea's approach to Porto on Tuesday


Bellingham heads the big stage again

“I’m not bad at football,” replied Jude Bellingham, 17, when asked if playing on the bigger stage was a pinch moment.

It might have sounded like a teenager’s joke, but it came with the kind of steel and self-confidence that permeated the former Birmingham youngster’s performance through both legs of a gripping game of the Champions League between Borussia Dortmund and Manchester City.

Bellingham left the field on the losing side on Wednesday after tilting the final eight to Borussia Dortmund for 40 minutes, but it was another showcase of his winning qualifications.

He had insisted that his teammates could reverse a slim deficit at home and he was the protagonist from the start, pressing at every opportunity, supporting attacks when the opportunity presented itself.

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Bellingham opened the scoring for Dortmund

There was a vigorously celebrated goal line clearance, a reservation for a tug that caused a brief howl of frustration before attention returned. He wanted it and it showed, his legs carrying him farther than any of his teammates in the first half.

But it was his composure on the ball as the adrenaline rushed that caught the eye again; the ability to play a diagonal pass or slide rule between the lines and, when the ball has rolled him loose over the edge of the box, the certainty of touching his feet, before another sends the ball past of the Ederson dive.

It was a time for the record books; he is now the youngest English player to score in this competition.

Finding the right mix of midfield seems to remain a puzzle for Gareth Southgate, but Bellingham’s box-to-box style is more captivating with every watch. Roy Keane was impressed enough to say he looked like a “complete midfielder” after a frenzied display against San Marino. Against a more starry opposition, Pep Guardiola was taken aback. ” I can not believe [he is only 17]. He might be a liar! He is so good! “

Not bad in football is an understatement indeed.
Kate Burlaga

Man City take important milestone

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Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola celebrates with goal scorer Phil Foden and his teammates

Could Man City face the pressure of a Champions League quarter-final knowing everything that had happened before? The answer was a resounding yes. And they did it the hard way.

Pep Guardiola is in the last four of a competition he has already created. The last hurdle with City has finally been cleared. For the club too, it is a great achievement in the context of history as it is just the second time they have reached this stage of the competition, after the last four appearances in 2016 under the management of Manuel Pellegrini.

Guardiola and his players would have been forgiven for thinking that a fourth straight quarterfinal outing was on the cards. City let the first 15 minutes go by, which is not advisable against a team like Dortmund who have good players in the final third.

Bellingham is one of them. His first goal was a thing of beauty after a nervous John Stones had been easily returned by Erling Haaland. And City fans watching from their homes – or in a pub garden – will have rolled their eyes when Kevin De Bruyne rocked the bar just before the break.

Another of those days?

No luck, said Phil Foden, playing without most of the scars his teammates suffered in this competition. It was his cross that tempted Emre Can to extend an arm for the penalty and, of course, it was his raspy strike that gave City the two-goal respite.

He ran to his manager, who looked like a proud father during these celebrations. Guardiola builds a special side. And a side that can deliver when the chips are off. The quadruple is activated.
Lewis Jones

No air and graces about Chelsea

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Christian Pulisic (right) embodied Chelsea’s approach to Porto on Tuesday

As a neutral you would be forgiven if you weren’t too interested in Chelsea’s second leg against Porto. There was some wild attacking football in Paris, after all, and even Thomas Tuchel admitted it wasn’t great for television.

But this company-like Chelsea side have shown their professionalism to play European two-legged football, despite the team’s inexperience. Chelsea full-backs at Sevilla were Reece James, 21, and Ben Chilwell, 24. Their first line of Christian Pulisic, Kai Havertz and Mason Mount? Only 22, 21 and 22 respectively.

It’s not the age or profile of the players you’d expect to be supremely disciplined, but Chelsea youngsters have resisted the urge to push numbers forward, perhaps aided by a stadium empty.

Without taking into account a rather sublime kick from Mehdi Taremi in the fourth minute of added time, it was almost the perfect performance in the second leg. These first three, focused on attack, knew their role: to slow down the game, win fouls and fight hard.

Pulisic, in particular, was brilliant and responsible for 11 of the 20 fouls Chelsea won. It is not creativity. It is not a silky game. It’s certainly not glorious, unless you’re looking at Tuchel. He barely had a touch in Porto’s area. But it was so necessary to see Chelsea through, in a home game that felt like an away game, and that shows Tuchel’s side have that chameleon ability to adapt to their surroundings.

Such is the nature of two-legged football, it will most likely be needed again.
Gerard Brand

Has Poch found the perfect blend of skill and steel?

PARIS, FRANCE - APRIL 13: Neymar of Paris Saint-Germain and teammate Leandro Paredes celebrate their full time team's victory after the Champions League quarter-final second leg between Paris Saint-Germain and FC Bayern Munich at Parc des Princes on April 13, 2021 in Paris, France.  Sports stadiums around France remain under strict restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic, as government social distancing laws ban fans inside venues, resulting in matches behind the cl
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Mauricio Pochettino’s PSG are in the last four of the Champions League

It was hard to ignore one of PSG’s three majestic fronts as Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Angel Di Maria were all full of invention and quality as Maurico Pochettino’s side booked their place in the bottom four. An overnight 1-0 loss to Bayern Munich was still good enough to succeed after scoring three goals in Germany. If Bayern had scored another to knock them out it would have been a huge injustice. Neymar hit the post and the bar, while Mbappe’s pace behind Bayern’s high line was frightening at times.

However, the most important part of PSG’s performance was going the other way.

The key area where this match was won was the space in front of the four full-backs of PSG. Bayern – mainly through Thomas Muller – are working this part of the pitch so smartly, but there was no way to pass in this game. The PSG defense was expertly protected by Idrissa Gueye, who put on the performance of her life. He has taken his game to another level since his days at Everton, judged on that performance. When he had to stifle danger, he was there. When he had to cover one of his teammates, he was there. Despite all their offensive talent, Gueye is perhaps their most important player in this style under Pochettino.

No player made more tackles than him in the night (six) as he was supported in the engine room by the chic Leandro Paredes, who unleashed numerous counterattacks from PSG with sublime passes in his first three.

PSG now appear to have the platform to support their array of offensive wealth.
Lewis Jones

Is this the end for Flick?

Bayern Munich coach Hansi Flick
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Bayern Munich coach Hansi Flick may have pulled off his last Champions League game for the club

No Bayern Munich manager has ever posted a higher winning percentage than Hansi Flick. No, not even Pep Guardiola.

Still, the current boss could have barely managed his last Champions League game for Bayern Munich after being knocked out by PSG.

Since taking over when the club finished fourth in the Bundesliga in November 2019, everything Flick had previously touched has turned into silverware, winning the treble in the form of the Bundesliga, Germany and the Champions League. A 12th consecutive Bundesliga title is also looking on the cards, with just six games to go.

Still, Flick’s future is in serious doubt with the 56-year-old the big favorite to replace outgoing Joachim Low as Germany manager after the relationship with Bayern sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic has become unachievable, according to reports in BILD.

RB Leipzig boss Julian Nagelsmann is said to be the man to replace Flick, who hasn’t quite dampened talks about his impending departure. He said after the loss of PSG: “My family will always be completely behind me, whatever my decision. Whether everything is going well here or not, you always have to think about it. “
Lewis Jones

Semi-final draw

First steps: April 27/28 | Return match: May 4/5

  • Paris Saint-Germain vs Manchester City
  • Real Madrid v Chelsea

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