English football comes home with glimpse of future from Foden and Hudson-Odoi
Shots of Harry Kane and his England team-mates celebrating deliriously dominated the big screens as blazing hot sun throbbed down upon those in attendance.
At Wembley - the place the Three Lions play when the literally do come home - the pre-match video montages of Russia 2018 before the Community Shield suggested no one is quite ready to draw a line under the English summer when a country fell back in love with its national team.
The sense surrounding Gareth Southgate's England is that the best is yet to come, with hope and expectation equally weighted around that sentiment.
As such, the teamsheets for Manchester City 's 2-0 win over Chelsea allowed fans a glimpse of that future and two lavishly gifted teenagers already tipped to play a key role.
"Phil Foden is a player for the first team, so he has the same chances as Kevin De Bruyne, David Silva, [Ilkay] Gundogan – all the midfield players that we have," Pep Guardiola said on Friday when discussing how much action his 18-year-old playmaker might enjoy this season. He proved as good as his word at the national stadium, selecting Foden ahead of Germany international Gundogan in his XI.
KICK OFF | Bring it home! #cfcvcity
— Manchester City (@ManCity) August 5, 2018
The touch, effortless poise and positional awareness that come enviously naturally to the Stockport native were all in evidence early on as he and the excellent Bernardo Silva weaved pretty patterns around the FA Cup holders.
New Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri and Guardiola spoke of their mutual admiration for one another during the build-up. They are such obviously kindred spirits in terms of how they feel the game should be played.
But Chelsea in the early weeks of "Sarriball" look something like Guardiola's City circa 2016 – creative and bold but ragged and vulnerable. In the 13th minute, Foden eased into the generous space left between midfield and defence to create Sergio Aguero's 200th Manchester City goal.
The Londoners' main threat came from a young man Foden knows very well and when City wilted briefly towards the end of the first half, Callum Hudson-Odoi looked set to punish them.
Hudson-Odoi laid on both Foden's goals as England won the Under-17 World Cup with a 5-2 win over Spain last year and the City youngster might have let Kyle Walker know he would not enjoy a sedate return to club action.
After fizzing one shot over he got some joy out of a backpedalling Walker, with Claudio Bravo spilling the eventual effort before City scrambled clear.
There was further sparkling footwork before the half was out but Hudson-Odoi did not quite hit the heights of the performances where he terrorised Inter and Arsenal in pre-season.
"In the future he will be a very, very strong player for sure. He will stay with us [in the first team] for the season," Sarri said after his flying winger gave Hector Bellerin a night to forget in Dublin.
minutes played, the Blues still trail...
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) August 5, 2018
After the break, City regained control with Foden to the fore. One immaculate pass with the outside of his foot sent Aguero scampering clear, only for the master marksman's composure to strangely desert him.
Augero's second arrived courtesy of more fine work from Silva and he was judged fractionally offside when Foden stunningly brought the ball down and unleashed a viciously spinning sand wedge of a pass in the 65th minute.
He will go into City's first Premier League game of the campaign at Arsenal on the back of a standing ovation and what the coming nine months have in store for Foden and Hudson-Odoi is a matter of intrigue.
Chelsea have won each of the past five FA Youth Cups, beating City in the final from 2015 to 2017, and seven of the previous nine. These are the country's two elite academies but the massed ranks of first-team talent ahead of them means even the very best youngsters tend to look elsewhere.
Even considering their clubs' capacity for producing excellent footballers, the indications are Foden and Hudson-Odoi are a cut above. At the risk of applying fatalistic pressure, if they don't make it, who will?
England expects. Handily for two exceptional teenagers, it seems Guardiola and Sarri do too.