England crumbled to a dramatic 2-1 defeat to France in their European Under-21 Championship opener on Tuesday after having Hamza Choudhury sent off, while Romania thrashed Croatia 4-1.

The Young Lions impressed in the first half, looking by far the more promising of the two sides going forward, with Demarai Gray going close twice.

Nevertheless, England were fortunate to go into the break level, as Moussa Dembele had his 25th-minute penalty saved by Dean Henderson after the ball struck Jake Clarke-Salter's arm.

England got a deserved opener just after the break and it was worth the wait. Phil Foden slalomed between two defenders, then evaded a third before delicately placing his effort into the bottom-right corner.

But a moment of rashness from Choudhury saw the Leicester City youngster shown a straight red - after a VAR review - for a wild tackle on Jonathan Bamba and, although Houssem Aouar struck the post with the resulting spot-kick, the sending off gave France the advantage.

Jonathan Ikone found the bottom-right corner to level in the 89th minute, and Aaron Wan-Bissaka calamitously put the ball into his own net deep into stoppage time to give France the win.

In Group C's early kick-off, Romania enjoyed an emphatic start by hammering Croatia.

Following a lively opening, Romania took the lead in the 11th minute – George Puscas converting a penalty after Filip Benkovic was penalised for handball following a VAR review.

Puscas then pounced on a poor headed back-pass three minutes later, nodding past the goalkeeper and seeing his effort cleared off the line, only for Romania icon Gheorghe Hagi's son Ianis to subsequently slot home.

Nikola Vlasic pulled one back with a 25-yard strike shortly afterwards and almost got a swift second, forcing Ionut Radu into a fine save.

Romania capitalised on that let-off in the second half. Tudor Baluta intercepted a stray pass, glided past a defender and coolly found the net in the 66th minute before substitute Adrian Petre wrapped things up at the end, guiding home Cristian Manea's cross from close range.

Luka Jovic was officially unveiled as a Real Madrid player on Wednesday, and Los Blancos' new striker is one of the headline names taking part in the Under-21 European Championship.

The tournament starts on Sunday, with Poland taking on Belgium before hosts Italy face Spain; Jovic's first taste of the competition will come when Serbia play against Austria in Group B on Monday.

But Jovic is not the only young star who is looking to shine at this event, with Manchester City's Phil Foden likely to be a key cog in England's midfield, while Sandro Tonali is one of Italy's brightest prospects.

And, ahead of the tournament, we have taken a look at the main players who will be looking to make an impact for each side.

GROUP A

Belgium – Yari Verschaeren (Anderlecht)

Anderlecht are no strangers to a teenage star becoming a key man; think Romelu Lukaku, Aleksandar Mitrovic or Youri Tielemans. Verschaeren is the next such prospect and his form has been so impressive that he could feature for Belgium at this tournament, despite being just 17. He is not yet capped at under-21 level, but that will soon change in the coming weeks for the silky attacking midfielder.

Italy – Sandro Tonali (Brescia)

Despite only turning 19 last month, Tonali has already established himself in Brescia's first team. He was a revelation in Serie B in 2018-19, helping his side to the title and subsequent promotion. A technically gifted midfielder who has been likened to Azzurri great Andrea Pirlo, Tonali is sure to be central to most of the host nation's play throughout the competition.

Poland – Sebastian Szymanski (Dinamo Moscow)

While many players at this tournament might hope to earn a move with their performances, Szymanski has already done that. Dinamo Moscow paid a reported €5.5million to Legia Warsaw for the talented playmaker just a few weeks ago, having emerged as one of the primary talents in the Ekstraklasa. A fine dribbler, agile and possessor of great vision, the 20-year-old – who was in Poland's preliminary squad for last year's World Cup – will be key for his side.

Spain – Dani Olmo (Dinamo Zagreb)

Dinamo Zagreb have a fine reputation for developing young players and Olmo is the latest. The winger left Barcelona at 16 to move to Croatia and it appears to be working out, having established himself as a key player. Good on the ball and an able goalscorer, Olmo might not be one of the household names in Spain's squad, but that could be about to change.

GROUP B

Austria – Dario Maresic (Sturm Graz)

Although critics say Maresic did not enjoy the best of seasons at Sturm Graz, the centre-back is impressively experienced for a 19-year-old, having been around the first-team since he was 16. A fine ball-playing defender, Maresic has often been linked with German and English clubs – this might be his best chance to impress yet.

Denmark – Joachim Andersen (Sampdoria)

Robert Skov's goals will be vital if Denmark are to make a splash in Italy, but they will also need to be solid at the back – that's where Andersen comes in. Signed from Twente in 2017, the Sampdoria centre-back enjoyed a breakout season in 2018-19, catching the eye with his ability to play out from the back. Arsenal are reportedly interested, but an impressive tournament could see his price tag continue to rise.

Germany – Alexander Nubel (Schalke)

Among the players going head-to-head with Jovic in the group stage will be Nubel, who enjoyed a breakthrough season with Schalke in the Bundesliga, unseating Ralf Fahrmann. Nubel made nine appearances in qualifying, conceding just seven goals and keeping five clean sheets, and could well be on course to prove himself as Manuel Neuer's heir apparent.

Serbia – Luka Jovic (Real Madrid)

Jovic's sensational form for Eintracht Frankfurt has earned the 21-year-old a mega-money move to Madrid. The former Benfica youngster scored 27 goals in all competitions for Frankfurt last term, and has also netted twice for the senior international team. With seven goals in qualifying, and riding the crest of a wave, Jovic will be aiming to drag Serbia deep into the competition, and he certainly has the talent to do so.

GROUP C

Croatia – Lovro Majer (Dinamo Zagreb)

The second Zagreb player to feature on this list, Majer's style of play has drawn comparisons to that of Luka Modric, who of course led Croatia to the World Cup final at Russia 2018. But Zlatko Dalic's team is an ageing one, and midfielder Majer, who made his international debut in 2017, could well be in line to play a key part in the senior squad in years to come.

England – Phil Foden (Manchester City)

There has been plenty of clamour for Foden to get more first-team opportunities at Manchester City in recent seasons, but Pep Guardiola has understandably taken his time in introducing the 19-year-old into a side that swept up four domestic trophies last term. Foden was a huge part in England winning the Under-17 World Cup in 2017, and Aidy Boothroyd is almost certain to turn to the playmaker to be England's creative fulcrum in their bid to win silverware.

France – Houssem Aouar (Lyon)

From one current City player, to a youngster that has been linked with a move to the Premier League champions. Aouar has been a consistent performer since establishing himself in Lyon's side during 2017-18, and is sure to be the one France look to supply the firepower for his club-mate Moussa Dembele. The 20-year-old, who is an exceptional passer, also thrives on getting among the goals, scoring 14 times in all competitions for Lyon over the course of the past two seasons.

Romania – Florinel Coman (Steaua Bucharest)

Winger Coman reportedly has a €100m release clause in his contract with Steaua Bucharest, whom he joined in 2017. A tricky, quick player with an eye for goal - he scored 12 across all competitions last term - he is without a doubt Romania's shining light heading into the tournament.

Phil Foden's progress in Manchester City's first team sets a vital example to the next generation of youngsters battling to make the grade for the Premier League champions, says youth team coach Gareth Taylor.

Foden made 26 appearances in all competitions for Pep Guardiola's treble winners in 2018-19, scoring seven goals – including his first in the Premier League, which secured a vital 1-0 win over Tottenham during the title run-in.

Breaking into City's lavishly assembled squad has proved a tall task for the club's leading young stars over recent years, with Jadon Sancho, Brahim Diaz and Rabbi Matondo all deciding to seek high-profile opportunities elsewhere.

The significance of boyhood City fan Foden seemingly lasting the course is not lost on Taylor.

"As coaches, we can say, 'This is what this guy did, this is how much he cared, this is how much he wanted to improve. These are the things you need to be looking at'," said the ex-City striker, who now takes charge of the club's under-18 side.

"I had Phil for two-and-a-half, three years. As well as being a top talent, he was an incredible lad to work with – very low maintenance, very humble, always doing extra.

"These are the key kind of credentials that you're looking for in young lads. To have Phil, someone who's worked his way up all the way through the academy, now working with amazing players and an amazing manager as a kind of a flagbearer is great for us."

All eyes will be on whether Foden can take a more prominent role in Guardiola's plans next term, with his thirst for involvement on matchdays at the Etihad Stadium something Taylor remembers with a smile.

"When I was coaching the under-16s, we kind of helped out with the ball boys. But the ball boys, usually, we try to have a cut-off at under-14, maybe under-15.

"Phil still wanted to do it at under-16. He probably did it only a calendar year before he was in the first team.

"He just wanted to be close to it all the time, he wanted to be close to the players and he loved that angle of being close to the pitch."

Foden turned 19 this week and will feature in England's bid for glory at next month's European Under-21 Championship, where a burning desire to improve identified by Taylor could pay dividends.

"With Phil it was always just sheer love of the game," he added. "He's doing the same now.

"I see him in the training sessions. Afterwards he'll take a bag of balls and you'll see him out there for ages.

"It's improving his game but, also, he just loves it. He absolutely just wants to play."

Manchester City became the first team to retain the Premier League title in a decade, backing up their 100-point season last time around with a similarly remarkable haul of 98.

They were pushed all the way by an irrepressible Liverpool side this time around, however, pipping Jurgen Klopp's men by a point thanks to Sunday's 4-1 win at Brighton and Hove Albion.

While a sense of exasperation has been easy to find at Anfield - what more could Liverpool have done? – City still appear to have room for improvement after passing a challenging campaign with flying colours domestically, an unprecedented treble two-thirds complete.

However, Europe remains the final frontier for Guardiola's City and a captivating recasting of English football's traditional Manchester-Merseyside rivalry does not look like going anywhere soon.

Here, we examine five factors that will be key to City taking another step forward in 2019-20.
 

A fully fit Kevin De Bruyne 

Perhaps the most impressive element of City following up last season so emphatically was them doing so for the most part without their most influential player of 2017-18. A pair of medial ligament injuries decimated the first half of Kevin De Bruyne's campaign. There were flashes of his best thereafter – most notably a trio of assists during City's thrilling Champions League quarter-final second leg against Tottenham – but two hamstring injuries continued a tale of woe. 

Rest, recuperation and an uninterrupted pre-season for a player who helped Belgium to third place at the 2018 World Cup on the back of 52 club games last term is a must. 


The next stage of Phil Foden's development 

When De Bruyne limped out of City's 1-0 win over Spurs in April, the home midfield was already in the safe hands of 18-year-old Phil Foden, who celebrated his second Premier League start with a decisive first goal. The England Under-21 playmaker remains very young for his position, but what already appears to be a prodigious mastery of it makes impatience in some quarters over his first-team opportunities understandable.  

Guardiola is only ever effusive in his praise of Foden, who scored seven goals in 26 appearances in all competitions this term, and has promised more minutes next season. Uncertainty over Ilkay Gundogan's future and David Silva's advancing years could mean 2019-20 is when one of English football's great hopes truly achieves lift-off. 


Getting Leroy Sane firing on all cylinders again

The raw numbers returned by Germany winger Sane speak of a very productive campaign, with 10 Premier League goals and as many assists. However, there are question marks over the lavishly gifted attacker, who has lost his place as a first-choice starter during the run-in – Guardiola preferring Raheem Sterling and Bernardo Silva to provide the wide support to Sergio Aguero in his front three.

The England and Portugal stars have been truly exceptional this season, but there are uncomfortable echoes of Sane's surprise axing from Germany's World Cup squad. His capacity to illuminate the big occasions is beyond doubt, as demonstrated by pivotal goals against Liverpool and Manchester United. However, Sane followed derby-day heroics from the bench with an underwhelming start at Burnley and an error-strewn cameo versus Leicester City. As a new contract remains unsigned and City are linked to Benfica wonderkid Joao Felix, it is clear there is work to be done.


Landing primary transfer targets

If you count Frenkie de Jong signing a pre-contract agreement with Barcelona last January, City have missed out on their main target in each of the past three transfer windows. Whether the respective fortunes of Jorginho and Alexis Sanchez at Chelsea and Manchester United respectively make that a blessing in disguise is a moot point, but Guardiola would be entitled to be a little frustrated with his great friend and City's director of football Txiki Begiristain.

The only major arrival for this season, record signing Riyad Mahrez, has underwhelmed significantly and this has been a title triumph rooted in a talented squad deepening their understanding and execution of Guardiola's complex instructions. Liverpool have still taken chunks out of the gap that existed and all eyes will be on reported transfer priorities, most notably Atletico Madrid's Rodri, who would serve as a much-needed heir to Fernandinho.  


Off-field investigations reaching a satisfactory conclusion

Another factor likely to sharpen City's focus in the market this close-season is the still-looming prospect of a transfer ban. FIFA, UEFA, the Premier League and the Football Association (FA) are all investigating elements of the club's financial operations following allegations made by German magazine Der Spiegel, which were based on documents purportedly obtained by whistleblowers Football Leaks.

City welcomed the opening of UEFA's formal investigation into claims they insist are "entirely false". For Guardiola and his exceptional team, it feels important that due process is seen to be served, whatever the outcome. The City manager seems keenly aware of his place in football history and will want his side's impressive feats to sit in the books unsullied.

Pep Guardiola insisted Manchester City have not been offered Manchester United star Paul Pogba again despite the Frenchman being linked with the Old Trafford exit.

Pogba has endured another erratic season at United, finding himself in and out of the team under Jose Mourinho, before suffering another dip in form recently.

Although consistency continues to elude Pogba, he has managed to score 13 Premier League goals this term and set up another nine.

Pogba was linked with City last season when Guardiola claimed - just before the derby - his agent had offered him to United's rivals, while Real Madrid are said to be circling following the return of Zinedine Zidane as coach.

But, ahead of Wednesday's Manchester derby, Guardiola refused to stoke any pre-match controversy again, insisting City have not been offered the World Cup-winning midfielder once more by agent Mino Raiola.

"No. No, no, definitely not," Guardiola told reporters when asked if Pogba had been made available to him. "He's a player for Man United."

Guardiola is already spoilt for choice in midfield, even with Kevin De Bruyne expected to miss the derby through another knee injury.

Phil Foden impressed against Tottenham last time out, scoring the only goal of the game in just his second Premier League start and he could start against United for the first time in De Bruyne's stead.

"Yes, he [Foden] is ready," Guardiola said of the Stockport-born 18-year-old.

"I don't know the importance to be a Man City fan or if being involved in that is going to help or not, but he is ready, of course.

"He would not be here [if he wasn't ready]. We'll see [if he starts] - I have to dream tonight."

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has not seen many players like Phil Foden, who he believes is "special" and possesses "something that's difficult to find".

Foden marked just his second Premier League start with the decisive goal as City bounced back from Champions League elimination at the hands of Tottenham three days prior by defeating Mauricio Pochettino's side 1-0 at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.

The 18-year-old was part of England's Under-17 World Cup-winning side in 2017 but has found establishing himself in Guardiola's star-studded midfield a tall order.

Foden has made 25 appearances in all competitions this term, a marked improvement on his 10 outings last season, and an injury to Kevin De Bruyne against Spurs could result in him featuring at Manchester United on Wednesday.

Guardiola has coached some of the greatest technical midfielders of the modern era, including Xavi and Andres Iniesta at Barcelona; and Toni Kroos, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Xabi Alonso at Bayern Munich.

When asked if he had any players like Foden at Barca, Guardiola replied: "No. He's special."

On how the teenager can become a more prominent member of the first-team squad, he continued: "Next season he has to fight with Fernandinho, with David [Silva], with Kevin, with [Ilkay] Gundogan. He has to run and run and run to convince me he can play. But I trust him. I trust him a lot.

"When I just landed [in Manchester] Txiki [Begiristain, director of football] told me, 'You have to meet one player, 15 or 16 years old, you have to know him.' And the first season I did but one day or two days he came to training sessions and I said, 'Wow, you're right, Txiki. This player is good.'

"But I know how it works, so young players have to be careful. As quickly as you go up you can go down and sometimes you have to handle a little bit that situation, but we don't have any doubts, any.

"Any time he played he was the standard, he was top, he was at the level to be a Manchester City player. It's not easy play in the big teams like Tottenham or Barcelona, [Real] Madrid – the big, top, top clubs. He's able to do that and he's 18 years old and that's why I'm so satisfied.

"I see him every day in training sessions. He has something special this player. And I saw many players as a football player and a manager, I saw many, and this guy has something that's difficult to find.

"Now it's patience, work hard and nothing [more]. We're going to see how long his career [will last]. Hopefully a long time."

Mauricio Pochettino insists Premier League officials have his trust despite Tottenham appearing to be denied a clear penalty in Saturday's 1-0 defeat at Manchester City.

Phil Foden's early goal proved decisive, as Pep Guardiola's men secured a measure of revenge for their Champions League exit at the hands of Spurs on Wednesday.

Although Spurs suffered a defeat, Pochettino was delighted with his team's performance, as they looked the more threatening side for much of the game.

They were particularly unlucky to not be given the opportunity to level from the spot in the second half when Kyle Walker appeared to block a Dele Alli flick with his arm.

Referee Michael Oliver failed to point to the spot despite being in a decent position to see it, but Pochettino refused to point the finger at the officials.

"Nothing to say," Pochettino said in his post-match news conference. "Always it is about the interpretation of the referee.

"Nothing to say, nothing to complain about, that is football – sometimes it is for you. We trust in the referees and the decisions better than any system.

"Always I am going to back the decisions of the referees."

Despite defeat, Tottenham's top-four hopes remain in their own hands and the run-in looks kind.

Three of their final four games of the season are at home, with the solitary away match coming against a Bournemouth side struggling for form, and Pochettino is fairly relaxed about the situation.

"It is in our hands to be in the top four to be in the Champions League next season," Pochettino said.

"We are going to have now the next two games, they are going to be decisive, against Brighton [and Hove Albion] and West Ham.

"It is going to be tough now, because Tuesday we have another tough game now and then Saturday and then the Champions League semi-final against Ajax.

"I feel very proud. The performance was very good. At least we deserved a draw. The man of the match was the [City] goalkeeper, Ederson.

"We competed really well. We need to keep that feeling and try to translate Tuesday."

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola paid tribute to Phil Foden after his match-winning performance against Tottenham on Saturday and used the opportunity to hit back at those who criticised his use of Fabian Delph in the Champions League.

City held on to a nervy 1-0 victory at the Etihad Stadium, with Foden's goal – his first in the Premier League – coming after just five minutes.

Foden was making only his second top-flight start but looked at home as City claimed a measure of revenge for their European exit at the hands of Spurs, who progressed on away goals despite losing the quarter-final second leg 4-3 in midweek.

Spurs won the first leg 1-0 and Delph came in for significant criticism for his performance, as did Guardiola by extension, prompting a prickly response when asked about Foden following Saturday's win.

"Now I am a genius. He [Foden] scored a goal, how good is the manager? Then, after playing Delph in London, it is a disaster," Guardiola told reporters.

"Phil is an incredibly talented player and we have to pick him in the right moment. He has the quality to arrive in the box.

"Every time he plays he scores a goal or has chances. His ability in small spaces, it is not easy to play against [Eric] Dier or [Victor] Wanyama or [Christian] Eriksen.

"It is an incredible experience for him to play and I trust him a lot."

Kevin De Bruyne suffered an injury in the first half and was subsequently forced off, making him a doubt for the remainder of the season, while the Belgian will almost certainly miss Wednesday's trip to Old Trafford.

That could provide Foden with the opportunity to make his first start in a Manchester derby.

"Maybe," Guardiola said when asked if Foden could feature against Manchester United.

"Maybe Kevin is not there, so we will see. I didn't spend one second to think about the match at Old Trafford.

"I need to enjoy today and rest a bit and then watch as many games as possible from United."

Bernardo Silva admitted nerves played a part for Manchester City in their narrow 1-0 win over Tottenham that took them back to the top of the Premier League.

City returned to the summit thanks to a tense victory over Spurs at the Etihad Stadium, three days on from their action-packed Champions League tie against the same opponents.

The sides shared seven goals in midweek as Tottenham progressed through to the semi-finals on away goals, despite a 4-3 loss in the second leg, but one goal was enough to settle this third encounter in the space of 10 days.

Phil Foden scored his first Premier League goal with five minutes on the clock, netting what proved the winner as the defending champions held on for three vital points, surviving a penalty scare in the process to move one point clear of Liverpool having played the same number of matches as their title rivals.

Silva conceded the tight nature of the title race is affecting City, but expressed satisfaction at quickly bouncing back from Wednesday's loss.

"We knew after the game three days ago we had to give a response," he told Sky Sports. "We wanted to keep the race for the Premier League title alive. 

"I think it was a great game, very difficult. It was a great win, three points, and now onto the next one - Manchester United. There are four games to go and we need four wins.

"We were nervous because we are fighting for the Premier League. There is always pressure in these games. 

"We felt the atmosphere - the fans were great today, as they were three days ago. We have to thank them because without them it is impossible to fight for these things."

Silva was named man of the match, but the Portuguese midfielder handed the award over to Foden.

The academy product is targeting more goals after netting on just his second Premier League start, nodding in after Sergio Aguero headed a Silva delivery back across the face of goal. 

"Aguero did great to nod it back to me and I was there to head it in," Foden said. "I just want to take my opportunity and help the lads. 

"I try to get in the box as much as I can because that's where you score goals. Being an attacking midfielder I've got to get in the box and today it paid off.

"Every player I play with I look up to - especially this guy [Bernardo]. He didn't stop running."

Phil Foden scored his first Premier League goal as Manchester City beat Tottenham 1-0 at the Etihad Stadium to bounce back from Champions League heartbreak and move a step closer to retaining their domestic crown.

Spurs ended City's European adventure on Wednesday despite losing 4-3 in a controversial and thrilling encounter at the Etihad, but they were unable to dent the champions' title defence as Pep Guardiola's men clinched a measure of revenge.

An entertaining first period saw just the one goal despite several opportunities at both ends, with Foden – making only his second top-flight start – opening his Premier League account in the fifth minute, though City did lose Kevin De Bruyne to injury.

Spurs were aggrieved to not be awarded a second-half penalty and that ultimately proved crucial as City held on to the slender victory, taking them back above Liverpool to the Premier League's summit ahead of Wednesday's trip to Manchester United.

Although Spurs started by going close through Son Heung-min, City took an early lead as they did in midweek, Foden nodding in after Sergio Aguero headed a Bernardo Silva delivery back across goal.

Spurs responded well as Christian Eriksen tested Ederson and Aymeric Laporte had to make a last-ditch tackle to deny Son, but City looked purposeful in attack and should have won a penalty when Jan Vertonghen sent Silva tumbling in the 20th minute.

City continued to grow as the first half progressed, though they lost De Bruyne to what appeared to be a knee injury just before the break, handing Spurs a boost.

Proceedings were tighter after the interval, though City could count themselves lucky to not concede a spot-kick – Kyle Walker seemingly handling the ball in the box after a Dele Alli flick.

Raheem Sterling should have wrapped things up with 19 minutes to go when directing Leroy Sane's cross goalwards, but Paulo Gazzaniga somehow kept it out with his right foot.

That ushered in an anxious end for City, with Ederson forced to thwart Lucas Moura, but the hosts dug deep to secure a crucial victory.

 

What does it mean? One final major obstacle remains

Most people identified two matches in City's run-in that could see them slip-up; Tottenham at home and away to United. They are now past the first hurdle relatively unscathed. It is seemingly only bitter rivals United that stand between City and a second successive Premier League triumph.

Silva shines bright

The best player on the pitch, by some distance. Silva constantly caused Ben Davies problems on the right flank, while his darting runs inside helped open up gaps in the Spurs defence, as was the case for Foden's goal. A fine display.

Gazzaniga unconvincing

While there was not much he could have done about the goal, Gazzaniga's general involvements were otherwise unimpressive, as he tried to over-complicate play and never looked in command in the penalty area.

What's next?

Things do not get much easier for City as they face the short trip to Old Trafford on Wednesday. Spurs host Brighton and Hove Albion the day before.

Phil Foden is set for only his second Premier League start as Manchester City welcome Tottenham in a potentially crucial game in the title race, while Spurs have rung the changes from Wednesday's dramatic Champions League clash between the two teams.

City claimed a 4-3 win at the Etihad Stadium during the week, though that score only told half of the story, as Mauricio Pochettino's men progressed to the Champions League semi-finals on away goals thanks to two VAR calls falling in their favour in the final 17 minutes.

With Pep Guardiola's men still very much in the hunt for the league title, he has opted to keep his team much the same, though John Stones, Foden and Oleksandr Zinchenko – who has been out injured in recent weeks – come into the side.

The talented Foden will be appearing as a starter in the Premier League for only the second time, his first in a 2-0 win at home to Cardiff City earlier this month.

Pochettino has made five alterations to his team, however, with most of them coming at the back.

Paulo Gazzaniga replaces Hugo Lloris in goal, while Davinson Sanchez, Ben Davies and Juan Foyth come into a back five.

Their other change sees Eric Dier return in midfield, with Fernando Llorente – the scorer of Spurs' crucial third goal on Wednesday – left on the bench as Lucas Moura and Son Heung-min lead the line.

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola praised the "exceptional" Phil Foden after the midfielder impressed against Cardiff City on Wednesday.

Foden, 18, made his first Premier League start as Guardiola's men returned to the top courtesy of a 2-0 victory at the Etihad Stadium.

Guardiola lauded the teenager, who had three good chances to score, and said Foden would get more opportunities over time.

"Last season he trained with us, played sometimes, but this season, every training day, every single day he's in the locker room, so he's part of the group and everything, and he feels that," he told a news conference.

"So I'm glad for the young age, the way he plays, in every single game he's played so far he always plays at a good level. Today he could've scored one or two goals, but not just yet.

"He's an exceptional player, but at the same time it's not easy for him. He plays in the same position as David Silva, Kevin De Bruyne, [Ilkay] Gundogan, Bernardo Silva.

"It's not easy for him, but he's patient and he wants to be here and we're delighted he's here, and of course this season he's played a lot of minutes, and I ensure you next season he will play more minutes than he's played this season."

De Bruyne, who has endured an injury-riddled season, opened the scoring before Leroy Sane's strike just before half-time for City.

Guardiola said City had missed the Belgium international despite continuing their strong run of results this season.

"I think everybody was playing at a high level, and of course Kevin, we've missed him," he said.

"The results maybe don't say that but we missed him. He's an important player for us and, especially in the first half in the first 15-20 minutes, he was making incredible movements."

Kevin De Bruyne wants Phil Foden to stay at Manchester City for the long term after the 18-year-old made his full Premier League debut against Cardiff City.

Pep Guardiola's side moved back to the top of the table, a point above Liverpool, after goals from De Bruyne and Leroy Sane sealed a 2-0 win at the Etihad Stadium.

Foden was twice denied by goalkeeper Neil Etheridge and hit the post as he marked his first top-flight start with an impressive performance in midfield.

It has been suggested Foden could follow the example of Jadon Sancho by leaving City for the chance of more regular first-team football abroad, despite signing a new contract until 2024 last December.

But De Bruyne is keen for his young team-mate to enjoy a long career at his boyhood club – as long as he feels happy.

"He's doing very well, he's very talented," De Bruyne told Sky Sports. "I know there's a lot of pressure on him to play, but he's played a lot of games.

"Our team is world-class. To come into the team, you have to prove yourself. That's what he's doing when he's playing. He needs to keep working and help us maybe win some titles.

"If he's happy here and playing enough time, then he should stay with us and keep working, but in the end, it's his decision."

Foden was delighted to earn his first league start, even if he was frustrated not to get on the scoresheet.

"It was a dream come true, starting in the Premier League," he said. "I needed a bit of Kev's luck today! It happens, I suppose. I don't think it was my day, but it doesn't matter, as long as the lads won.

"It's great to learn from Kev and David [Silva] in that position. I'm enjoying every day."

De Bruyne's goal came as he fired high past Etheridge from a tight angle to the left of the penalty area, and the Belgium star admitted it was a fluke.

Asked if he meant his finish, De Bruyne said: "No, not really! In the end, it all counts. I wanted to give it hard in front of the keeper and I had to do it on the turn. Sometimes it goes well, sometimes it goes less so.

"We wanted to start like we did against Fulham and we did that, we could have scored two or three goals. I think we dominated the game, we created way more chances than 2-0 in the end."

De Bruyne was making just his 10th start of the league season, having struggled with a succession of injuries, most recently a hamstring problem.

"My season has been very long. It feels like the double-length of season of other players. I had to work so hard to come back three, four times," he said.

"I'm probably not going to have the level I had last year but, in the end, it's not about me, it's about what I can do to help this team lift titles."

Phil Foden will make his full Premier League debut when Manchester City host struggling Cardiff City on Wednesday.

Pep Guardiola's side, which shows seven changes and also features John Stones, will seek to return to the top of the table after being overtaken by Liverpool following their last-gasp win over Tottenham on Sunday.

And the City boss has called on Foden to play his part, with the 18-year-old midfielder handed his maiden top-flight start for the club.

Foden has been linked with a temporary move away from the Etihad Stadium, but Guardiola spoke out last month to reject that speculation.

The England Under-21 international has made 15 appearances in the league from the bench, having already featured from the start in City's Champions League, FA Cup and EFL Cup campaigns this season.

Guardiola is without top scorer Sergio Aguero against the relegation-threatened Bluebirds, with Gabriel Jesus taking his place.

In better news for quadruple-chasing City, Stones returns to the starting line-up for the first time in a month.

Phil Foden said his Manchester City career so far has been "a dream" as he paid tribute to the guidance senior players like David Silva and Vincent Kompany have given him this season.

The 18-year-old midfielder has emerged as one of the club's brightest youth products for years, enjoying double the number of Premier League appearances he made in 2017-18 and regularly featuring in Pep Guardiola's starting line-up in cup competitions.

Foden's rise to prominence has been rapid but he is keeping himself grounded with the help of City's experienced old heads, who have been on hand with words of wisdom while he hones his game.

"It's a dream," Foden told the Daily Mail. "I've been a City fan from young and I've watched these players growing up as well. To play with them and see what they do every day, to learn off them - it's special. I just enjoy it every day, being there and learning from them.

"David is always giving me advice, it's one little thing. He says just to know your time on the ball and things like that. He will always help you out.

"He'll say 'Oh, you could have set the ball there instead of turning'. It's just listening to him. Everyone is good with that; Vincent Kompany is the same.

"I liked to watch Spanish teams at home when I was younger. I don't try to copy anyone but I like to learn from people."

With the likes of Silva, Ilkay Gundogan, Bernardo Silva and Kevin De Bruyne ahead of him in the pecking order of midfielders at City, Foden could be forgiven for looking enviously at the likes of Jadon Sancho, who left the club at 17 and is playing regular first-team football for Borussia Dortmund.

But the Stockport-born teenager, who will be a key player for England Under-21s at the European Championship in June, is confident he can make his mark at the Etihad Stadium.

"Hopefully I bring something different to the team but there is a lot of quality in every position," said Foden.

"People say you're a bit different and it's a good thing so I'm just trying to help the team and do well for them. I've been working in the gym quite hard, just little things, not too much.

"You don't need to be too big as a footballer, you just need that little bit on you."

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