One of the numerous storylines that will be followed closely is the midfield fight that will take place between Jude Bellingham and Enzo Fernandez.
Borussia Dortmund will play host to Chelsea in the opening leg of the Round of 16 of the Champions League. This matchup will pit two of the most promising young midfielders in the world against one another.
Both of these midfielders are widely recognized as being among the greatest in the world at their respective positions, but they couldn’t be more different from one another. A combined age of just 41, with Fernandez being just 22 years old and Bellingham being just 19 years old, but both of them having the world at their individual feet.
Jude vs Enzo
It would not be surprising if Dortmund played tonight with the same 4-3-3 configuration that they have utilized rather frequently in European competition this season. Edin Terzic will be in charge of the lineup decisions. Bellingham, who is reputedly worth approximately £130 million ahead of the summer transfer window, plays as one of the wide central midfielders in an advanced role in that system. This position is commonly known to as the No. 8 position.
In the meantime, Fernandez was utilized by Benfica as one of the two midfielders who played the deepest positions in a 4-2-3-1 configuration while he was playing in the Champions League. That is something that is somewhat comparable to what we anticipate seeing from Graham Potter later on tonight.
Enzo was one of the defensive midfielders that played in Saturday’s 0-0 draw with West Ham United in the Premier League. Ruben Loftus-Cheek was the other defensive midfielder that played. Tonight, Potter may decide to go with a formation similar to that, or he may opt to bring an extra player into the midfield and play Fernandez in the position of the No. 6 instead.
A significant portion of Fernandez’s playing is on maintaining possession of the ball and moving it forward for his team. In the group stage, Enzo had a pass success percentage of 91% for Benfica, whereas Bellingham had a pass success rate of 84% for Dortmund over the same span.
On the other hand, Bellingham dribbles the ball more than Enzo does, which is something you could expect given the more advanced role that Bellingham plays. The England international loves to run with the ball and make use of his power, whereas the Argentine often demonstrates his deft footwork in tight spaces, but typically not as far up the pitch as the Dortmund great.
Fernandez played in all five group matches for Benfica and made 19 tackles, which works out to an average of over four per contest. Bellingham, on the other hand, played in the same number of games for Dortmund and was successful in making eight tackles. However, Fernandez is in last place in terms of interceptions, as he only had nine to his record throughout the group stage.
When broken down, it’s a fight that makes your mouth water just thinking about it. It’s a matchup between two of the best central midfielders in the world of football, and it’s taking place in the most important club competition on the entire planet.