EDS & Academy

Dele-Bashiru: Midfield holds key to semi-final

Dele-Bashiru: Midfield holds key to semi-final
Tom Dele-Bashiru is looking to dominate midfield when Manchester City U19s face Barcelona in the UEFA Youth League semi-final.

The 18-year-old Academy graduate has pinpointed the middle of the park as the battle ground for deciding which way this game swings and with his all-action style he’s hoping to drive City forward in Switzerland.

It’s an area where Simon Davies’ has been deprived of several players, with Brahim Diaz and and Phil Foden ineligible having played three first team games in Europe.

Matt Smith is also suspended after picking up a yellow card against Liverpool in the quarter-final.

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Having made his first team debut in December, Dele-Bashiru is therefore one of the more experienced players in this young side and combining neat technical ability with an imposing physical style, is someone who’s capable of dominating in the engine room.

And that’s exactly what he’s aiming to do against the Spanish outfit.

“I would say I’m looking to take responsibility in midfield,” he said after the team’s final training session in Manchester.

“When you’re a little bit older, you feel a bit more responsible and the other players can look up to you.

“We’ll win it or lose it in midfield.

“We know we need to work hard as a team and individually we have to take care of the game. In the middle third we have to keep the ball so that in the final third we can go and express ourselves.”

Despite being the first cohort in the Club’s history to reach this stage of the tournament, there’s a calmness amongst the squad.

Daniel Grimshaw acknowledged as much and Dele-Bashiru is feeling equally relaxed about what lies ahead.

He explains that’s because he expects to be competing at the latter end of competitions and also because there’s an innate belief amongst the team that they have the talent and know-how to beat their La Masia counterparts.

“There’s a lot at stake, but it feels normal," he reflected.

“We expect to be at this stage of the tournament. We’re a big team, but it wouldn’t be good to get overly hyped about it.

“We just need to keep a cool head and I think we’ll deal with it well.

“We think we can beat Barcelona and we think we can win the tournament.

“The way I see it, we have to win it. We’re the first team to reach the semi-final, so there’s a sense of achievement, but we are going there to win.”