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Talking Points: City at the World Cup

WORLD IN ACTION: John Stones, Vincent Kompany, Fabian Delph, Raheem Sterling and Kevin De Bruyne share their experiences

WORLD IN ACTION: John Stones, Vincent Kompany, Fabian Delph, Raheem Sterling and Kevin De Bruyne share their experiences

Five topics to emerge for discussion in the wake of a memorable 2018 World Cup finals...

1City's Lions roar

England defied all expectations in both reaching the semi-finals and reconnecting a special bond with the entire nation.

And Manchester City's quartet of Raheem Sterling, John Stones, Kyle Walker and Fabian Delph all played a key role in helping the Three Lions navigate that journey.

Stones, Walker and Sterling were all vital cornerstones of Gareth Southgate’s established first eleven with the trio producing some superb individual displays.

READ: France World Cup winners Benjamin Mendy

READ: Fabian Delph says Man City midfielder Phil Foden is at the right club to progress

On the biggest stage of all Stones, in particular, was simply magnificent. Assured in possession, tactically astute and a key leader on the pitch he was also a threat going forward too as evidenced by his brace of goals in the 6-1 win over Panama.

Sterling may not have found the target but with his lightning pace, non-stop energy and selfless devotion to the team cause, he earned widsespread praise from a host of seasoned observers - along with Southgate - who all hailed Raheem’s contribution to the cause.

Walker too, despite being deployed in an unfamiliar role as part of a three-man central defensive pillar as opposed to his traditional right-back role, emerged as one of the rocks of England's back-line and helped to engage the nation too with his #Kyling exploits.

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Delph meanwhile had an eventful tournament on and off the pitch. One of Southgate’s key leadership group and affectionately known as the librarian for his love of books, on top of starting both games against Belgium, Fabian also jetted home midway through the tournament to attend the birth of his daughter.

And on his return to the squad he was able to offer a first-hand insight into how England’s exploits had gripped the nation’s imagination.

2KDB and Kompany shine

A third-place finish represented Belgium’s best-ever achievement at a World Cup finals – and City duo Kevin De Bruyne and Vincent Kompany were both instrumental in that success.

Midfield marvel De Bruyne simply carried on from where he had left off with City domestically, lighting up the tournament with a series of wonderful individual displays.

Whether it be his devastating passes, his non-stop energy or trademark prowess in front of goal, KDB was yet again a veritable tour de force.

READ: Man City Belgium England third place

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His stunning goal against Brazil in a magnificent quarter-final literally took the breath away not to mention flooring the tournament favourites while it was his devastating break from deep that led to Belgium’s dramatic injury-time winner against Japan in a mesmeric last-16 encounter.

Kompany, meanwhile, after sitting out the bulk of Belgium’s group games as he recovered from a pre-tournament injury, once again proved his worth at the business end of the tournament.

He may not have been captain – Eden Hazard was entrusted with the captaincy by manager Roberto Martinez – but Vinny was a leader in every sense of the word on the pitch, especially in that classic against Brazil where his aerial threat going forward also led to Belgium’s opening goal.

4Bold Bernardo

For more than a decade Cristiano Ronaldo has been Portugal’s go-to man on the world stage but, thanks to his efforts in Russia, Bernardo Silva proved that the Portuguese are far more than a one-man band.

Indeed, much like his first season with City, the mercurial attacking midfielder simply got better and better as the tournament progressed.

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And in what was a pulsating last-16 clash with Uruguay, Bernardo produced an individual display that lit up the game, marrying energy, drive, skill and bravery to marvellous overall effect.

With the Portuguese chasing the match after having fallen 2-1 behind, it was Bernardo who carried their attacking threat every time he received the ball and the 23-year-old could count himself desperately unlucky to finish on the losing side.

It was also a mouth-watering reminder as to what City fans can look forward to once the 2018/19 campaign gets underway.

69Latin frustrations

For City’s South American contingent – Brazil’s Gabriel Jesus, Fernandinho, Ederson and Danilo along with Argentina duo Sergio Aguero and Nicolas Otamendi – Russia 2018 was ultimately a tournament of ifs and buts.

Once fellow heavyweights Germany departed at the group stages, Brazil assumed the mantle of favourites but the Samba stars met their match in a classic quarter-final clash against Belgium, going out 2-1.

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Fernandinho was desperately unlucky to find his own net while Jesus was then denied a penalty despite appearing to be clipped by City colleague Vincent Kompany, a decision that proved decisive.

Aguero book-ended his individual campaign with two fine goals in Argentina’s opener against Iceland and last 16 classic against France but that latter goal wasn’t enough to prevent La Albiceleste losing out 4-3 to the eventual winners.

Argentina’s exit was especially harsh on Otamendi who transferred his excellent club form onto the international stage with a series of towering defensive displays.

Ultimately though it was to be Europe not South America that prevailed once more on football's ultimate stage.

5Mendy has the Final word!

At the end of a wonderful four-week festival of football, City had a new World Champion in their ranks in the shape of Benjamin Mendy following France’s 4-2 win over Croatia in the final.

The defender may not have enjoyed as much game time as he wanted out in Russia but the very fact that he was part of Didier Deschamps’ squad after he suffered an anterior cruciate injury last September spoke volumes as to his strength of character.

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And Benjamin’s effervescent personality together with his famed social media prowess ensured he was still a key part of the French success story – not least in the joyous aftermath of Sunday’s final in Moscow.

Mendy helped orchestrate the celebrations as he gave French president Emmanuel Macron a personal lesson into how to perform the dab before following that up by taking centre stage alongside Deschamps as the official post-match press conference.

It was another powerful reminder – on the biggest stage of all - of the gregarious spirit and force of personality that not only gives an energy lift to his team-mates but supporters as well as they feed off the Shark Team's commander-in-chief.

Allez les Bleus!!

Media Watch

Media Watch: Stones targets rapid return

ACTION MAN: John Stones says he wants to return to action with Manchester City as quickly as possible after his World Cup heroics

Today’s Media Watch carries news of a potential huge boost for Manchester City’s plans for the new season from one of England’s World Cup heroes.

Monday's media round-up...

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