MANCHESTER, England –
Jude Bellingham has shown that he has the quality to fill the huge gap left by Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
With both stars established in new territories, Bellingham has found his way into Europe’s elite, alongside Kylian Mbappé, Erling Haaland and Vinicius Jr.
On Tuesday, the 20-year-old English midfielder added another to the five goals he has scored in four games for Real Madrid this season. Although the 3-1 win over Scotland came in a friendly, Bellingham’s start to the season was great. He also set up Harry Kane, who scored in Glasgow.
“For such a young boy to have this football genius, I love watching him play,” said Graeme Souness, the former Liverpool player who now works as a television commentator. “Jude Bellingham is a reality.”
Bellingham came to Madrid from Borussia Dortmund for $139 million. His goals have compensated for the departure of Karim Benzema, part of the exodus of players to Saudi Arabia in recent months.
While Messi and Cristiano have continued their careers in the US and Saudi Arabia respectively, Bellingham joins a group looking to establish themselves as a new generation of icons in Europe.
After losing to England, the Scots face Spain next month with the aim of consolidating their position at the top of Group A. In a more contentious game, Scotland set the pace with 15 points, with Spain following with nine.
La Roja completed a perfect double date, defeating Georgia 7-1 and Cyprus 6-0. The revelation was teenage attacker Lamine Yamal. The Barcelona prodigy became the youngest player to score in European Championship qualifying at 16 years and 57 days against Georgia.
France, Portugal, Belgium and Austria are also close to qualifying.
Under the leadership of Spaniard Roberto Martínez, Portugal made the best start to a European duel with the ideal score of 18 points after six games and, with a 9-0 win against Luxembourg, their highest win in a competitive game.
Germany, on the other hand, can be eternally grateful that, as hosts of the European Championship, they qualified directly for the tournament. Hansi Flick was sacked as coach after the 4-1 defeat against Japan in a friendly match.
Flick had been stumbling since Germany were eliminated in the group stage of the World Cup last year, the second consecutive time the four-time world champions had crashed out in the first round.
The defeat against Japan extended the winless streak to five, and the Wolfsburg crowd booed the team mercilessly. But they reacted immediately after Flick was sent off. Germany beat runner-up France 2-1 in another friendly on Tuesday.