England have been one of the standouts of the 2022 World Cup so far. The team made light work of Senegal, dispatching the African team 3-0 in the round of 16 and now face France in the quarter-finals.
Despite Jude Bellingham stealing the headlines for his man of the match performance, Manchester City‘s Phil Foden was equally responsible assisting two goals as England cruised to an easy win.
In fact, City boss Pep Guardiola ramped up the expectations around Foden back in the summer of 2019.
“He is the most, most, most talented player I have ever come across in my career as a player and as a coach,” Guardiola said. “He has everything to become one of the best… and not just in England.”
Foden, at 22, has 53 goals and 36 assists in 189 games for City. The midfielder also has a host of highlights to his name, including a hat-trick in the derby against Manchester United.
While Foden lacked the same level of consistency and spark for England, that is no longer the case.
In the unfortunate absence of Raheem Sterling, Southgate opened the door for Foden for the 3-0 win over Senegal with the former City ball boy taking his chance with aplomb.
Showing what he can do
“I was keen to show everyone my game,” Foden added after the game.
“It was always said that I wasn’t able to bring the level I play at club level to the national team and I feel that against Senegal I played my best game for England.”
While Foden didn’t not score, operating from the left flank he did everything right. He was instrumental in all three goals. His back-heel for Jordan Henderson‘s goal broke Senegal‘s defence. He also set up Harry Kane for the second and offered the killer pass to Bukayo Saka for the third after completing a great run.
In doing so, he became the second-youngest player (22 years and 190 days) to have two assists in the same World Cup knockout stage match since 1966. He is second only to Brazil’s Ronaldo (21 years and 284 days).
“I’m trying to find a player I’ve played with in the last 20-30 years who can receive, turn and accelerate the play always with his head up, like Foden does, and I can only think of Paul Gascoigne,” Gary Neville said on ITV Sport.
“He’s sensational and has a devilish touch that makes him lethal.”
France, the reigning world champions, now await England in the quarter-finals. A match that could draw a star-studded duel between Foden and Kylian Mbappe.
“It’s going to be very difficult,” Foden said.
“So far they have proven to be the strongest. Everywhere you look they have quality players, but we have confidence in ourselves.”