Manchester City star Phil Foden has been named as the “world’s most unique footballer” for one major reason following his incredible cameo in helping the Blues record a 1-0 win over Atletico Madrid in the Champions League quarter-final first leg.
Pep Guardiola’s side were finding it hard to break down a stubborn Atletico side, whose sole aim at the Etihad was to hold out for a draw. Setting up, effectively, in a 5-5-0 formation, Diego Simeone’s side clearly marked their intentions early on in the game. And the plan appeared to be working out until Foden’s introduction.
Manchester City dominated the ball enjoying 70 per cent possession and, understandably, were the only side looking to win. Indeed, Atletico’s approach was clear; hold City to a 0-0 draw before looking to press home a narrow advantage in the second leg next week.
But a mere 68 seconds after his introduction from the bench, a brilliant piece of magic from Foden played Kevin De Bruyne in for the winner.
His brilliant footwork saw him play through the Belgian, who showed fine composure to beat Jan Oblak.
And Foden continued to torment the Atletico defence as City went in search of a second. And while it never came, they can at least take a lead to Spain next week.
That 1-0 win will be precious to them going into the second leg at the Wanda Metropolitano. And while Atletico will likely stay patient again in the return, the scoreline at least means they will have to bear their teeth at some point.
That alone should ensure a better match in the second leg.
Assessing the win for BT Sport, pundit Owen Hargreaves claims Foden’s masterclass shows why he should be considered as the most unique footballer in the world.
Marvelling at his brilliance, he claims Foden is capable of playing in several different positions.
“He’s able to do this as a false nine, as a right winger, as a No.10, as a deeper midfielder, he can play off the left,” Hargreaves beamed. “It’s hard enough to play at this level, he can play at a world-class level in four or five different positions.
“The thing is with Phil he’s one of one, he’s the most unique footballer around.
“When you see videos of him playing when he’s 10 he’s half the size of everyone else. But now I think Phil’s still at the beginning of his development. I think there’s much more to come.
‘For me personally, I think he’s David Silva, [his best position is] central. He’s best on the half turn.”
Rio Ferdinand compares Phil Foden to Man Utd legend
The game-changing introduction of Foden also earned the star more praise from fellow pundit Rio Ferdinand.
"Scanning… Scanning… Eight times he's scanned!"
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“The composure that he’s got, the ability he’s got to draw players to him,” said Ferdinand.
“His footwork, he causes havoc, he’s got that clarity when he’s running.
“I think also what’s a good indicator is he comes off the bench and he’s straight into it. He has that intelligence, that concentration, that understanding.”
Such was Foden’s impact, the BBC claims there is ‘no limit to his potential’.
The mpact of Phil Foden off the bench also saw Ferdinand comparing him to legendary United figure Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
The Norwegian, who would later become manager, made his name as something of a super-sub. Indeed, his most famous moment came in 1999 when he struck in added-time as Manchester United beat Bayern Munich to win the Champions League.
“You talk about Chicharito, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and people coming off the bench, it’s not an accident that happens.
“Ninety-nine per cent of players come off the bench and don’t impact the game. But the ones that do are the ones who are concentrating, they understand, they’re intelligent, and come on there to show a desire to show why they should be playing. And within 80 seconds he [Foden] decides the match.”