10 things every Manchester City fan needs to watch out for at the Euros
Manchester City head into the summer as the Carabao Cup and Premier League champions, however the Sky Blues failed to turn up in their final game of the season against Chelsea in the Champions League final.
City have already witnessed squad changes since. Both Eric Garcia and Sergio Aguero have left City to join Barcelona.
Will there be more changes in Pep Guardiola’s setup? Probably.
With plenty to consider before the Premier League restarts on August 14, here are 10 things every Manchester City fan needs to watch out at Euro 2020.
List of Manchester City players featuring at Euro 2020
- Raheem Sterling (England)
- John Stones (England)
- Kyle Walker (England)
- Phil Foden (England)
- Kevin De Bruyne (Belgium)
- Ilkay Gundogan (Germany)
- Nathan Ake (Netherlands)
- Aymeric Laporte (Spain)
- Rodrigo (Spain)
- Ferran Torres (Spain)
- Joao Cancelo (Portugal)
- Ruben Dias (Portugal)
- Bernardo Silva (Portugal)
- Oleksandr Zinchenko (Ukraine)
1) Phil Foden: Positioning and performance on the international stage
From Guardiola being questioned as to why he was not playing Phil Foden enough, the young English talent has developed under the Spaniard’s tutelage into arguably the young player to watch out for in the Premier League.
The 20-year-old has 16 goals and 10 assists in his 50 appearances, bearing in mind plenty have been as a substitute in Guardiola’s rampantly rotating squad.
Foden has taken on the best in the Champions League and now helped his boyhood club reach a final.
Internationally, his club form has carried him into Gareth Southgate’s plans. Foden has already 2 goals and 2 assists in 6 appearances for England but it is his positioning which is the most intriguing.
Having played on either flank and as a free number 10, Southgate has a versatile asset at his disposal. The exciting prospect of seeing Foden line-up behind Harry Kane and alongside combinations of Jadon Sancho, Mason Mount, Jack Grealish and Raheem Sterling is tantalising.
The Euros could be the tournament which sees Foden move from the one of the best prospect, to one of Europe’s best players.
2) Kevin De Bruyne: Can he lead Belgium’s golden generation to a title & how is his face?
Belgium have been the world number one nation in football for quite some time and yet they are still without an international title despite their dominance.
A golden era of players has been headed up by Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne. In addition to the talismanic figure, Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku, Youri Tielemans, Toby Alderweireld, Thibaut Courtois, Thorgan Hazard, Dries Mertens, Jan Vertonghen and Timothy Castagne are big talents in Roberto Martinez’s squad.
With many of that group reaching their late 20s or early 30s, it does appear that time is ticking on the opportunity to win a major international tournament.
De Bruyne will be the creative and goalscoring threat from midfield, hoping to supply the front line spearheaded by Lukaku.
Their group, which includes Finland, Russia and Denmark, seems almost a formality in comparative quality. With momentum being key for any nation at a tournament, the fitness of De Bruyne and Hazard will always be a concern. The City man has experienced a few issues this season which has kept him out, in fact he played just 25 of the 38 Premier League games.
6 goals and 12 assists was a tame return for a man of his qualities but he did close the season with a goal and assist against Everton in the 5-0 final day win.
Although an injury in the Champions League final may see his involvement limited, especially in the early group stages.
3) Harry Kane: Interview focus revealing possible future
It seems almost a formality that Harry Kane will depart Tottenham Hotspur this summer and Manchester City, unsurprisingly, are one of the clubs touted as being a possible destination.
City fans will be looking on at his performances and wondering what it might be like for him to line up with the likes of Riyad Mahrez, Kevin De Bruyne and Bernardo Silva. With Foden and Sterling already in the England setup, it provides just a small taste of what could be to come.
However the media responsibilities that the players have could unlock some interesting quotes throughout the tournament. Kane is almost guaranteed to be asked on any details about his future destination and City fans will be keeping ears on alert for any hints of a move to the blue half of Manchester.
With the deal expected to become one of the sagas of the summer and with no immediate resolution in sight, Kane’s future is set to be a distraction Southgate will hope he can avoid to focus on the Three Lions.
4) Oleksandr Zinchenko: Ukraine’s new captain, showing Pep his true traits
Despite being just 24, Oleksandr Zinchenko has wrapped up 38 senior caps for Ukraine already and has the privilege of taking the armband. Former captain Andriy Pyatov, goalkeeper for Shakhtar Donetsk has fallen behind Dynamo Kyiv stopper Georgiy Bushchan and therefore relinquished on field captaincy to Zinchenko.
Zinchenko was brought in from FK Ufa in Russia. As a teenager he was scoring and creating for his side as an attacking midfielder. However, at City, his left-footed characteristic has led to a transition to left-back.
During a previous injury crisis, Pep Guardiola entrusted Zinchenko in the more defensive role and the Ukrainian flourished. However, returning to play for his national team, Zinchenko has played in his previous role as a midfielder.
This has, in part, been down to the development of Vitaliy Mykolenko, but also Zinchenko’s own quality further forward.
It is expected the 24-year-old will again be entrusted with a midfield role at the Euros and it could be a chance for him to show Guardiola exactly what he can do if given the faith in his preferred position.
5) Aymeric Laporte: How will the now Spaniard fair for his new nation?
The decision which has been coming for some time has finally been made.
Aymeric Laporte will represent Spain at senior international level despite racking up a huge amount of youth appearances for France.
Overlooked time after time, Laporte’s call up by Luis Enrique will come at a great period. Choosing to exclude Sergio Ramos for the first time since the early 2000s, Laporte will play an important role in the La Roja back line.
Known for popping up with important goals in big games, such as this season’s League Cup final, Laporte could add international pedigree to his decorated career.
Having spent many years in Spain with Athletic Club, Laporte became very much part of the fabric of Spanish football and playing under a Spaniard at City since leaving Bilbao has not diminished any of the footballing culture from his youth and early senior career.
Laporte has also fallen behind both Ruben Dias and John Stones it seems this season, the tournament will allow La Roja’s new addition a chance to show Pep he is the man he can count on as City aim to defend yet more titles next season.
6) Portugal connection: Can Dias, Silva and Cancelo help win back-to-back Euro titles?
The current champions of the Euros, Portugal, won the tournament in 2016 thanks to their defensive might which was so stubborn against some of Europe’s best.
However, fast forward to 2021 and this is a very different Portuguese side with an emphasis on quality in all areas of the pitch.
The Manchester City trio of Ruben Dias, Joao Cancelo and Bernardo Silva will all be looking to complement the nations growing talent base. Bruno Fernandes, Joao Felix, Andre Silva, Nuno Mendes, Pedro Gonçalves, Diogo Jota and of course the talismanic Cristiano Ronaldo will take on the group of death with France, Germany and Hungary.
Fresh off the back of winning the Premier League player of the season award, Dias intends to continue Portugal’s defensive prowess along with Joao Cancelo who has been a phenomenon of a full-back under Guardiola. The former Juventus man has redefined the role of right and left back during his time in Manchester.
Whilst Bernardo Silva will be looking to feed Ronaldo with Fernandes and Felix also providing further firepower. Portugal do have the potential to match Spain’s back-to-back accolade of 2012, the City trio will certainly be at the heart of their hopes to do so.
7) Roberto Mancini: City favourite trying to take Italy all the way
The man who enabled the famous words of BBC commentator Guy Mowbray to echo through the airwaves, Roberto Mancini, is looking to resurrect a sleeping giant of the international game. Whilst the Blue moon has since risen and stayed triumphant, Italy have been struggling.
Failing to quality for the 2018 World Cup, Italy came back for the Euro 2020 qualification with a vengeance under Mancini. The Azzurri won all of their 10 qualification games to ensure there was no doubt about their attendance at the now delayed competition.
There may not be any Italian representative from Manchester City, with the club still to fully utilise the market from that part of the world, City fans can enjoy all the traits they came to love seeing from Mancini.
8) John Stones: Can he carry his impressive form into England’s tournament?
The aforementioned Laporte was shocked this season to find himself on the bench many times, much down to the rejuvenation of John Stones.
Prior to the season the former Everton man was even being touted with a possible exit from Manchester. However, given an opportunity alongside Dias, Stones became a massively vital part of the Guardiola machine.
It was Stones’ ability on the ball which set him apart from the now Spanish representative. His ability to move the ball out from the back was appreciated and accentuated by Pep.
Should Harry Maguire be fit, Stones will be expected to partner his Manchester rival at the heart of Southgate’s defence. Can the two sides of Manchester combine to form a solid base for the Three Lions?
9) Ilkay Gundogan: The experienced head hoping to lead Low to Euro exit glory
Ilkay Gundogan took on the mantle of Manchester City’s talismanic attacking midfield figure during the period in which Kevin De Bruyne was unable to play through injury.
In a transitioning Germany national team, he remains as one of the most experienced parts of the squads and coach Joachim Low will be relying on him to show that amongst his young squad.
Very similar to Manchester City, Gundogan’s position in the Germany side can be in Multiple areas with him having the possibility to partner either of Leon Goretzka or Joshua Kimmich in one of the depot midfield roles. Or possibly setting up ahead of the aforementioned pair in place of one of the 2014 World Cup winning nation’s young attacking talents.
10) Ferran Torres: Can the Spaniard become the goalscoring machine Guardiola wants him to be?
Ferran Torres has been unable to solidify a regular starting position in the Manchester City team, and still very much looked upon as a talent for the future.
Guardiola has appreciated his attacking skill which have seen him score a number of goals this season, both at his club side and when playing for La Roja.
Recently, Spain have struggled to see world class quality strikers develop and make the national team with the likes of Rodrigo Moreno, Alvaro Morata and Gerard Moreno good options but comparatively not close to the level of the likes of David Villa and Raul before him.
Diego Costa switched allegiances but his performances at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil showed it was a risk which failed to pay off.
Torres, signed as a midfielder from Valencia, but has been entrusted on a number occasions to lead the line for the Citizens. He has carried his developed goal threat into the national side of late even scoring a hattrick against Germany.
Could Luis Enrique see Torres as an option for Spain this summer in a central role, or will he continue to play further wide? We will see.
This article was edited by Benjamin Newman.
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