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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    FC Cincinnati head coach Pat Noonan is desperate to find a remedy for his side's "flat" performance last time out, ahead of Chicago Fire's midweek MLS visit.

    The Orange and Blue produced arguably their worst performance of their season during Sunday's 3-1 home defeat against Charlotte FC.

    Cincinnati will have another chance to respond at TQL Stadium, bidding to remain top of the Eastern Conference standings after a surprise defeat in their last encounter.

    Home head coach Noonan acknowledged his side must perform better.

    "Our first 35 minutes were probably the worst of the year," Noonan said of the Charlotte showing. "We weren't ready, and that starts with me.

    "I have to look at why it was so flat… A lot of poor performances and some avoidable mistakes on the two goals that really put the momentum in their favour.

    "I think the warning signs, in terms of how we've conceded, have been there for a couple weeks now.

    "There was loss of concentration, lost a mark, set pieces again… some things that we will continue to try to find answers to. Yeah, the way we're conceding goals is concerning."

    The Fire, in stark contrast to Cincinnati at the summit, are just one spot from the bottom of the East table.

    Chicago did manage a goalless draw with New York City FC, however, in their last match and keeping them ahead of bottom side Philadelphia Union.

    Frank Klopas' side have accumulated 10 points from their last seven outings, though their away form is the worst in the Eastern Conference – with just seven points from 33 available on the road.

    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    FC Cincinnati – Luciano Acosta

    Luciano Acosta has been the leading light for Cincinnati's attack this year, sitting top of the club's scoring charts with 11 goals from 23 MLS appearances.

    The Orange and Blue forward will be integral once more if the hosts are to down the struggling Fire here.

    Chicago Fire – Hugo Cuypers

    It remains to be seen whether Xherdan Shaqiri will return from Euro 2024 in time for this one, having announced his international retirement for Switzerland on Monday.

    Hugo Cuypers will be expected to step up in his absence again, with the striker scoring nine goals for Chicago in MLS this season – at least four more than any other team-mate.

    MATCH PREDICTION – FC CINCINNATI WIN

    The home side are the dominant favourites for this clash, with the Opta supercomputer backing their victory chances at a hefty 66.1% from their data-led pre-match simulations.

    Cincinnati have triumphed in 12 of their last 15 MLS matches, although three defeats have come in their past eight such outings.

    That trio of losses have all come on their home ground, too, yet Cincinnati will be confident of getting over the line in this one.

    Klopas' visitors have failed to score in their last two outings, and that will only boost the hosts' hopes heading into this midweek clash.

    OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

    FC Cincinnati win – 66.1%

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  • Shearer expects Southgate departure after gut-wrenching Euro 2024 failure Shearer expects Southgate departure after gut-wrenching Euro 2024 failure

    Gareth Southgate will likely leave England with his last game as the Euro 2024 final defeat, according to former Three Lions talisman Alan Shearer.

    England suffered another European Championship heartbreak on Sunday, falling to Mikel Oyarzbal's 86th-minute winner in Berlin as Spain snatched a deserved 2-1 victory.

    Southgate's side are the first side in history to lose consecutive Euros finals, while the England manager is the first boss to ever suffer defeat in two European Championship showpieces.

    With Southgate's current contract ending in December, speculation remains rife over his future with reports linking Eddie Howe, Graham Potter and Mauricio Pochettino as potential replacements.

    Shearer, a former England team-mate of Southgate, believes the Spain defeat may mark his last at the helm of the national side.

    "My guess is – and it is only a guess – he may now say to someone else that it is their turn to try to get England over the line," Shearer wrote in his BBC Sport column.

    "If he does, then he has put the team in an excellent position for someone to take the team forward, to take that next step and win a major tournament."

    Southgate transformed England's fortunes, steadying the ship to take them to unprecedented ground in the World Cup semi-finals in 2018 and the Euros finals in back-to-back editions.

    "Gareth came in and put a smile on everyone's faces – bringing the squad together," the former Newcastle United striker added.

    "He put the team in a much better position mentally and the spirit he nurtured helped us get to the final again.

    "For achieving all of those things he deserves a huge amount of respect and gratitude, but it's just unfortunate that – for all his excellent work – Gareth just wasn't quite able to get the best out of this team in Germany, and that was the difference between us reaching another final and winning one."

    With the World Cup to follow in 2026, a new era may await England, who must bounce back once more after another setback on the biggest stage.

    Regardless of who takes charge in that tournament, Shearer insists Southgate should be proud of his achievements.

    "Gareth will be hurting like hell after what happened in Berlin but my feeling is that, when the dust settles on the final of Euro 2024, he will decide he's had enough," Southgate's Euro 1996 team-mate said.

    "It should be his decision to stay or go – and I think it will be – but it is a tiring job and he has been doing it for a long time.

    "If he does leave, he should go with his head held high because England are in a completely different place now compared to where they were when he took over in 2016."

  • Lionesses captain Williamson reminds Three Lions of successes despite Euro 2024 agony Lionesses captain Williamson reminds Three Lions of successes despite Euro 2024 agony

    England responding to their Euro 2024 heartbreak with success in the future will taste "even sweeter", according to Lionesses captain Leah Williamson.

    The England Women's star launched a staunch defence of Gareth Southgate's men's side after their 2-1 defeat in the European Championship final to Spain.

    Southgate's Three Lions are the first side in history to lose two consecutive Euros finals, while the England manager is the first to suffer defeat in two separate showpieces of the tournament.

    Having lost the Women's World Cup final to Spain last year, Williamson can somewhat relate, but reminded England supporters of the good times under Southgate, whose future remains uncertain.

    "Devastated, especially knowing some of them personally as well," Williamson told reporters ahead of Tuesday's clash with Sweden in qualifying for the Women's European Championship in 2025.

    "What Gareth and his team have done over the last three, four years, reaching finals and bringing that dream closer to reality, we are very lucky as fans of England, men's and women's, to be in the position that we're in.

    "They didn't quite get over the line to a fantastic Spanish team, I know they'll be devastated about it, it will take a while for them to get over it.

    "But us as a country, we've been blessed with incredible tournaments. And when those wins come, which I do believe they will, then they'll be even sweeter."

    England Women's boss Sarina Wiegman led her side to Euro 2022 glory against Germany before the agony against Spain the following year.

    Therefore, Wiegman knows all too well about suffering from setbacks.

    "Takes about three weeks, it took me three weeks to get over it," an honest Wiegman said on how Southgate and Co. will recover.

    "It's very hard ... when you have given your everything, then you hope you win and when you don't, you are really disappointed.

    "But then you start thinking: Okay, did we get everything out of ourselves? Did we do everything that we could that was in our control?

    "And then you have to accept it. It's easier to accept a win than to accept a loss but yeah, for me that takes it took a while."

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