SoccerEuro Zone

Euro Zone: The Serbia player so bad that zero was deemed too good for him

A big Hungarian baby, and how to put Jude Bellingham’s feats into perspective

Serbia's Dusan Vlahovic (left) and England's John Stones made for a very low-calibre encounter, according to some European observers are to be believed. Photograph: Adam Davy/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to FA restrictions. Editorial use only. Commercial use only with prior written consent of the FA. No editing except cropping.

It’ll never not be amusing comparing player ratings in sundry outlets and ending up wondering if the raters were watching the same game. Granted, we all know how stingy L’Équipe tend to be with their marks, but still, their assessment of John Stones’s display against Serbia was spectacularly at odds with how the bulk of the English press rated him. Eg:

The Guardian: “8 – Looked sharp after recovering from illness and shaking off an ankle injury. Composed as ever.”

L’Équipe: “3 – Struggled in his battle with Dusan Vlahovic from the first minute and multiplied his blunders throughout the game.”

If Stones is left feeling aggrieved by his three, he should spare a thought for Vlahovic – Spain’s Diario AS opted to give him no rating at all, so rubbish did they deem him to be. Harsh.

Carry-on over Bellingham

How composed was the English press in its response to Jude Bellingham’s highly impressive performance against Serbia? An example: “Bellingham is beyond comparison with any other player who has worn the Three Lions in the last half-century. Watching him is more like witnessing Muhammad Ali or Tiger Woods in their pomp. A man who is so much better than anyone else he is competing with – and with the self-awareness to know it.”

And then there’s that Adidas ad which pretty much promises that the lad will single-handedly end 58 years of hurt in Germany by winning the tournament for England. Soundtracked by Hey Jude, he will, they told us, take a sad song and make it better. What’s it they say in Liverpool? Calm down, calm down.

No Genghis Khan in England’s midfield

Speaking of Bellingham, Dan Snow, the telly historian, is peeved by the notion that a 20-year-old doing big things is unusual. By that age, he noted, “Ali had an Olympic gold. Tom Neil was flying Hurricanes during the Battle of Britain. Nelson had his own command. Genghis had hunted and trapped to keep his family alive in the wilderness. And Edward IV had smashed a Lancastrian army and snatched the throne.”

“Exactly,” an Andrew Turner tweeted back. “Has Bellingham ever smashed a Lancastrian army? No! Didn’t think so. On the other hand, Edward IV would have struggled at Real Madrid I feel.” Fair point.

England's Jude Bellingham is really nothing special if you factor in his lack of military conquests. Photograph: Martin Rickett/PA Wire.
In words

“I was born this way. I’m not saying that I was this big when I was born, but I have a basic physique.” – Hungary’s 6ft 3in, 190-pound striker Martin Ádám. Mercifully for his Ma, he wasn’t born that way.

In numbers

13 – That’s how many players Inter Milan and Manchester City have at Euro 2024, one ahead of Real Madrid, making them the clubs with the highest representation in the tournament.