Tadic tips 'hungry' Bellingham to 'win next Ballon d'Or'

By Sports Desk June 16, 2024

Jude Bellingham "has everything to win the next Ballon d'Or", Serbia skipper Dusan Tadic insisted after his side fell victim to England's star midfielder.

Bellingham was the hero with his first-half header ensuring Gareth Southgate's side got off to a winning start at Euro 2024, as they edged out the Eagles 1-0 in Gelsenkirchen.

The Real Madrid midfielder built on the momentum from his memorable debut season with Los Blancos, for whom he scored 23 goals and helped win LaLiga and the Champions League.

The second player after Michael Owen to score at the World Cup and European Championship before turning 21, he is also the first to do so for the Three Lions while playing his club football outside of England.

And Tadic, who appeared as a second-half substitute in Serbia's first match at the European Championship as a unified nation, paid tribute to the 20-year-old.

When asked whether he thought Bellingham was the difference in the Group C contest, the Eagles skipper told reporters: "Yes, definitely. I think he is a great player and a great personality. I think he has everything to win the next Ballon d'Or.

"I think everything that he did was great today, he showed personality, he took England to the next level. He was always asking for the ball and I think he had a great game.

"What I think is most important for such a young player is that he always takes responsibility. That is amazing to see, and you can see he is very hungry."

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  • Spain's Olmo dismisses Bellingham fear-factor ahead of Euro 2024 final Spain's Olmo dismisses Bellingham fear-factor ahead of Euro 2024 final

    Spain's Dani Olmo has said he is not afraid of England's Jude Bellingham ahead of their Euro 2024 final in Berlin on Sunday. 

    Olmo has starred for La Roja in Germany, notching three goals and two assists, which crucially gives him the edge in the race for the Golden Boot ahead of Harry Kane. 

    The Spaniard's statistics are more impressive having only started one of their first four games at the tournament. 

    Olmo's goal against France made him the first Spanish player to score in three successive games at the European Championships. 

    His five goal involvements for Luis de la Fuente's side is also the most by a Spaniard at a major tournament since David Silva at Euro 2012 (two goals, three assists). 

    However, Bellingham has also shone at Euro 2024, carrying on his impressive form that saw him net 23 times in all competitions during his debut season for Real Madrid. 

    Bellingham has scored twice for England at the tournament, including the Three Lions opening goal of the competition against Serbia. 

    The 21-year-old's late strike against Slovakia in the last 16 was England's latest-ever goal scored in normal time at a major tournament. 

    However, Olmo has insisted that he does not fear Bellingham ahead of their showdown for the Henri Delaunay Cup. 

    “I'm not afraid. Bellingham is a reference point there, football is played through his boots. He is always in the thick of things," Olmo said. 

    "He is a player to be taken into account, but I don't fear anyone.”

     

  • Spain's Olmo dismisses Bellingham's fear-factor ahead of Euro 2024 final Spain's Olmo dismisses Bellingham's fear-factor ahead of Euro 2024 final

    Spain's Dani Olmo has said he is not afraid of England's Jude Bellingham ahead of their Euro 2024 final in Berlin on Sunday. 

    Olmo has starred for La Roja in Germany, notching three goals and two assists, which crucially gives him the edge in the race for the Golden Boot ahead of Harry Kane. 

    The Spaniard's statistics are more impressive having only started one of their first four games at the tournament. 

    Olmo's goal against France made him the first Spanish player to score in three successive games at the European Championships. 

    His five goal involvements for Luis de la Fuente's side is also the most by a Spaniard at a major tournament since David Silva at Euro 2012 (two goals, three assists). 

    However, Bellingham has also shone at Euro 2024, carrying on his impressive form that saw him net 23 times in all competitions during his debut season for Real Madrid. 

    Bellingham has scored twice for England at the tournament, including the Three Lions opening goal of the competition against Serbia. 

    The 21-year-old's late strike against Slovakia in the last 16 was England's latest-ever goal scored in normal time at a major tournament. 

    However, Olmo has insisted that he does not fear Bellingham ahead of their showdown for the Henri Delaunay Cup. 

    “I'm not afraid. Bellingham is a reference point there, football is played through his boots. He is always in the thick of things," Olmo said. 

    "He is a player to be taken into account, but I don't fear anyone.”

     

  • The Numbers Game: Messi set for triumphant Argentina send-off in Miami? The Numbers Game: Messi set for triumphant Argentina send-off in Miami?

    The stage is set for what could be Lionel Messi's international swansong, as Argentina face Colombia in Sunday's Copa America final in the forward's new home of Miami.

    The Hard Rock Stadium is the venue as Messi and La Albiceleste go in search of a record-breaking 16th Copa America crown, currently level with Uruguay on 15. It would also be a second in a row after they overcame old rivals Brazil in the 2021 final.

    Standing in their way, however, are arguably the most impressive team at the tournament in Colombia.

    Unbeaten in 28 games – a new national record – and led by a rejuvenated James Rodriguez, who is surely the favourite for Player of the Tournament honours, Los Cafeteros downed a much-fancied Uruguay side with 10 men in the last four and are sure to present a stern test.

    Ahead of the showpiece game, we dive into the best Opta data surrounding the two finalists. 

    What's expected?

    Argentina began the tournament as favourites, being given a 30.8% chance of securing back-to-back titles for the first time since 1993 by the Opta supercomputer.

    The supercomputer is still on their side ahead of the final, giving them a 50.9% chance of winning the match in 90 minutes.

    Colombia are assigned a 25.4% chance of victory and a 23.6% chance of taking the game to extra time (which will take place if required after being scrapped for all other knockout matches) and potentially penalties.  

    Argentina have won their last two Copa America shoot-outs, against Ecuador in this year's quarter-finals and Colombia in 2021, though they have lost three of their last four finals at the competition on spot-kicks, versus Brazil in 2004 and Chile in both 2015 and 2016.

    Overall, Lionel Scaloni's team are given a 63% chance of lifting the trophy to Colombia's 37%. 

     

    Colombia will be featuring in just their third Copa America final (also 1975 and 2001), becoming the fourth team to reach multiple finals at the competition this century, after Argentina (six), Brazil (four) and Chile (two).

    Argentina have now reached the final at six of their last eight major tournaments (World Cups and Copa America). The only exceptions were at the 2018 World Cup and the 2019 Copa, losing to the eventual champions (France and Brazil) in both instances.

    Colombia have only won one of their last 12 meetings with Argentina (five draws, six defeats) – a 2-0 group-stage win at the 2019 Copa America. The teams' last draw led to Colombia losing on penalties in the 2021 Copa quarter-finals, with Davinson Sanchez, Yerry Mina and Edwin Cardona all unsuccessful from 12 yards.

    The teams have met on 15 previous occasions in the Copa America, with Argentina recording seven wins to Colombia's three and the remaining five being drawn.

    Fitting farewell for the GOAT?

    Sunday's final could very well be the end of an era, with arguably the greatest footballer of all time contemplating international retirement after the match.

    While there are plenty stateside who are desperate to see Messi continue his glittering Argentina career until the 2026 World Cup, the eight-time Ballon d'Or winner said this week he is fighting his "last battles" on the international stage.

    Having led Argentina to glory at the 2021 Copa and the Qatar World Cup, Messi could go out on a high by inspiring his country to three straight major tournament successes, a feat they only previously achieved by winning three consecutive Copas in 1945, 1946 and 1947, with the World Cup not held during that time.

    It took him a while, but Messi finally got up and running at this year's Copa with a goal in Tuesday's 2-0 semi-final victory over Canada, converting his 12th shot of the tournament.

     

    He has now scored at six different editions of the Copa America, matching the record set by Zizinho all the way back in 1957. Messi has netted at the 2007, 2015, 2016, 2019, 2021 and 2024 editions, only failing to get on the scoresheet in 2011.

    His semi-final strike came 17 years and one day after his first Copa America goal, versus Peru in 2007. That gap is the longest between goals for a single player in the tournament's history, breaking another record previously held by Zizinho (15 years and 52 days between 1942 and 1957).

    Another trophy on Sunday would enable him to end what had previously been a disappointing Argentina career with a perfect run of three tournament triumphs.

    There is also the small matter of another international trophy pulling him clear of his great rival Cristiano Ronaldo, who led Portugal to glory at Euro 2016 and in the 2018-19 UEFA Nations League but now looks unlikely to add to that collection. 

    Cafeteros the Copa's best?

    Argentina may have star quality unmatched by any of their South American rivals, but they were made to work for knockout successes against Ecuador and Canada. Many would argue they have not been the tournament's outstanding team.

    That honour may go to Colombia, who topped Group D ahead of Brazil before dumping out Uruguay – considered second-favourites for the trophy by some – in the semi-finals.

    Nestor Lorenzo's team did not even require a full complement to overcome La Celeste, standing firm after Daniel Munoz's first-half red card as Jefferson Lerma's earlier header proved decisive. 

    Lerma's goal was Colombia's fifth to come via a header at this tournament, the most by a team at a single edition since Argentina netted six times via that route in 1991, when they lifted the trophy.

    Colombia's aerial prowess has been another string to their bow at a tournament where they have been extremely efficient in attack, scoring a competition-high 12 goals from 8.49 expected goals (xG), a tally that puts them second to Argentina (11.1). Colombia rank just sixth for touches in the penalty area (104) but third for shots from inside the box (59).

    Only conceding twice, Lorenzo's side have also been solid at the back – a recipe for tournament success. 

     

    Per game, they have averaged a tournament-low 0.51 expected goals against (xGA), as well as 9.6 shots faced (the third-best figure) and 2.2 shots on target faced (second-best). 

    That solid backline has given James and Luis Diaz the platform from which to make things happen, with the duo ranking third and fourth, respectively, for expected assists (xA) among all players at the competition. 

    Miserly at the back and with two of the competition's most creative players in attack, Colombia will back themselves to spoil Messi's Miami party.

    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    Argentina – Angel Di Maria

    Di Maria made his 27th Copa America appearance in the last four, becoming Argentina's second-most capped player in the competition, behind Messi (38 matches).

    The former Real Madrid wideman will play his final international match on Sunday, and he could go out with a bang, having earned a reputation as a big-game player.

    Di Maria, who has 31 goals in 144 games for La Albiceleste overall, scored the winner in the 2021 Copa America final versus Brazil and also got on the scoresheet in the 2022 World Cup showpiece game against France.

    Only James (17), Nicolas de la Cruz (14) and Messi (13) have bettered his nine chances created at this tournament, while he also ranks sixth for xA (1.01) and only Messi has matched his tally of four chance-creating carries. 

     

    Colombia – James Rodriguez

    Colombia captain James has looked a player reborn at this tournament, recording six assists, with the most recent teeing up Lerma's semi-final winner versus Uruguay.

    That meant he surpassed Messi (five in 2021) for the most assists at a single edition of the Copa America since this data began being recorded by Opta in 2011.

    A remarkable 12 of his 17 chances created at this tournament have come from set-pieces, and with a cagey affair potentially in store, his dead-ball prowess could prove decisive.

    Five of Colombia's 12 goals have come from corners or indirect free-kicks, with James' deliveries helping them surpass their previous best goalscoring return at a Copa America (11 in both 1975 and 2001).

     

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