Scout report of Chelsea loanee Loftus-Cheek after impressive England debut

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Every weekend we pick out one under-23 player from around Europe and analyse their performance to provide you with an in-depth scouting report.

This week, we focus on England’s 0-0 draw with Germany in an international friendly as Crystal Palace midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek, on loan from Chelsea, was handed his Three Lions debut.

BASIC STATS

Shots – 0

Touches – 67

Passes – 52

Key passes – 2

Pass Accuracy – 96.2&

Aerials Won – 1

Dribbles – 4

Dispossessed – 1

Tackles – 0

EFFECTIVENESS

It may have been Loftus-Cheek’s first game in an England shirt but you wouldn’t think it based on his performance. The midfielder oozed confidence and was composed and certain in everything he did.

Eric Dier may have made the most passes for England but it was Loftus-Cheek who ran the show in midfield. His pace, dribbling, vision and passing all came to the fore and virtually every promising attack from the hosts went through him.

Playing in behind the two strikers, he dropped into pockets of space brilliantly and picked out some sublime passes with unerring ease. Early on in the game, he even made a couple of German players look a bit silly with some outrageous skill before eventually winning a free-kick.

He orchestrated England’s play in the final third but was excellent at dropping deep and spraying passes forward from a withdrawn position as well.

However, while he looked likely to create something every time he found the all at his feet, he didn’t offer too  much in winning possession back, failing to register any tackles or interceptions and didn’t trouble the goal either with no shots.

Having said that, his decision-making and effectiveness on the ball was near-perfect.

KEY MOMENTS

10th min PASS: Loftus-Cheek has time on the ball and sprays a pass forward for Tammy Abraham’s run but the striker can’t quite keep it from going out for a goal-kick.

18th min SKILL: In a tight space on the right wing, Loftus-Cheek gets away from Leroy Sane with some quick feet before nutmegging Halstenberg and then drawing the foul from Rudiger.

45th min PASS: Loftus-Cheek plays a sublime ball over the top of the German defence for Jamie Vardy but the striker’s attempt to poke it past the keeper is miscued and nearly falls for Abraham who is beaten to it by Kimmich.

59th min PASS: Another lobbed pass from Loftus-Cheek pierces the heart of the German defence and finds Eric Dier whose ball across the face of goal is turned behind for a corner.

62nd min PASS: More clever play from Loftus-Cheek in midfield sees him drive forward with the ball before setting Marcus Rashford off on the left but the Manchester United man eventually runs it out of play.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek (L)

Ruben Loftus-Cheek (L)

VERDICT – 8/10

Dele Alli has been a mainstay in England’s starting line-up for a while now without any real competition given Wayne Rooney’s decline, but he’ll be looking over his shoulder if Loftus-Cheek’s debut is anything to go by.

The midfielder bossed the game against Germany, showed plenty of athleticism, vision and composure. The only thing missing from his performance was a goal. He proved that he’s ready to play on the big stage and will be gunning for a starting berth. England have found themselves a more than able back up for the Spurs attacking midfielder.

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Andrea Pirlo's unique genius lay in hard work and determination

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Pirlo revived his career at Juventus after being discarded by Milan.

There have been countless aspects of Andrea Pirlo to admire as a footballer. His passing range, the way he would control the tempo of a match despite often being the slowest player on the field, his ability to deliver in the biggest games and with style all of his own; any pass-heavy midfielder now deployed just in front of the defence will forever from this day be in the, “Pirlo role”.

As former Milan and Italy team-mate Gennaro Gattuso said: “When I see him play, I ask myself if I can really be considered a footballer.”

That appreciation was replicated in the cult of character that developed: the Serpico-era Al Pacino look, the love of the finer things in life and so many quotable lines from his autobiography, “I Think Therefore I Play”, the title in itself so brilliantly Pirlo.

However, what is sometime overlooked, given it doesn’t quite fit in with the same romantic narrative, is how he fought for every inch of his career to become one of the best midfielders of his generation.

Born into a degree of privilege with his father a steel magnate in Brescia, Pirlo was exceedingly talented from a young age and was soon signed up by his hometown club, making his Serie A debut at 16.

Two years later Internazionale came calling with Italian youth honours from Under-15 to Under-21. It was a gilded career seemingly destined for greatness. But in the chaos that was Inter of the last 1990s – five managers between 1998-2001 – he failed to find a place in his preferred No10.

MILAN, ITALY - JANUARY 17: Andrea Pirlo of Milan in action during the Serie A match between Milan and Siena at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on January 17, 2010 in Milan, Italy. (Photo by Giuseppe Bellini/Getty Images)

Master at work: Pirlo starred at Milan for a decade.

After such a rapid elevation, the knock of not being wanted at one of Europe’s biggest clubs could have affected him, but instead a move to city rivals AC Milan and a switch to a deeper role, unearthed his genius.

He shone in an age of an emphasis on athletes first. Just as Xavi and Iniesta defied convention, so did Pirlo. The players of the future had to be bigger, stronger, faster. He passed his way through them.

The Rossoneri helped him grow into a great but in 2011, as he turned 31 after a serious knee injury, he was discarded with a feeling his best days were behind him.

It seems bizarre to think now, but Juventus were generally viewed as taking a significant risk on signing him on a free transfer. How ridiculous that seems now.

Once again, he reinvented himself, conducting the Bianconeri’s orchestra to his own tune and enjoyed a third chapter of his career so many didn’t think possible.

His approach on the field was more craft than graft, but then Pirlo always worked in his own individual way.

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Liverpool and Borussia Dortmund youngsters lead top five players at the FIFA U17 World Cup

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The FIFA U17 World Cup has a reputation for showcasing some of the world’s best young talent, and this year’s edition in India has been no different.

Young players from across the world have lit up the tournament, where Spain and England will face off in the final on Saturday.

Here are five of the best performers at the tournament so far.

RHIAN BREWSTER (ENGLAND)

A hat-trick in the quarterfinal followed by another in the semi-final – there’s not much more you can do to stand up for your country.

Brewster’s Ronaldo-esque performances have fired England into the final, and he’s the favourite to wrap up the Golden Boot. With seven goals in six games, he’d deserve the accolade.

The former Chelsea prodigy is now at Liverpool and has already caught the eye of Jurgen Klopp. Displays like this on a global stage mean his club debut is likely not too far away – he’s already made the matchday squad for a Liverpool first-team side, although he didn’t get on the pitch back in April.

Rhian Brewster scored hat-tricks in the quarterfinal and semifinal.

Rhian Brewster scored hat-tricks in the quarterfinal and semifinal.

JADON SANCHO (ENGLAND)

The youngster who recently made his Borussia Dortmund debut caught the eye in India. He starred for England in the group stages, before he was recalled by his club side.

It’s a shame Dortmund called him back, because the knockout rounds of a World Cup would have been a fitting stage for the young winger. He has tremendous talent, which was on display throughout England’s opening three matches.

Jadon Sancho only played in the group stages, but turned in some eye-catching displays.

Jadon Sancho only played in the group stages, but had some eye-catching displays.

ABEL RUIZ (SPAIN)

Ruiz looks like an archetypal Spain striker. He creates space for himself with intelligent movement, and he finishes with remarkable calm.

The Barcelona forward grabbed a brace in the semi-final to seal Spain’s spot in the final, where he’ll go head-to-head against England’s Brewster. Ruiz is just one goal behind Brewster in the scoring charts, so he’s got every chance at winning the Golden Boot.

Abel Ruiz's goals and all-around play has led Spain to the final.

Abel Ruiz’s goals and all-around play has led Spain to the final.

PAULINHO (BRAZIL)

Not to be confused with Barcelona’s midfielder, Paulinho was one of Brazil’s most dangerous threats in the tournament.

He possesses a fierce long-range shot, as he showed with a stunning strike against Spain in the group stages. His pace and propensity to cut inside from the flank make him a tricky customer, as England discovered in the semi-final.

JANN-FIETE ARP (GERMANY)

Arp isn’t just prolific. More than the fact that he scored five goals in five games at the U17 World Cup, it was the quality of his goals that caught the eye.

The youngster loves the chip in one-on-one situations, as he showed more than once in India, and he also scored from a seemingly impossible angle for one of his goals.

For a striker of his quality, he’s also remarkably unselfish; he keeps his head up and is never shy of picking out a teammate if that’s the better option. His flicks and passes kept Germany’s attacks flowing throughout the tournament.

Germany's Jann-Fiete Arp scored some wonderful goals at the U17 World Cup.

Germany’s Jann-Fiete Arp scored some wonderful goals at the U17 World Cup.

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