The eulogisers were out in full force to lavish praise on a complete Tottenham Hotspur performance against Borussia Dortmund but, in the midst of the hype surrounding the likes of Son Heung-min and Jan Vertonghen, the excellent performance of Juan Foyth slipped under the radar.
The injury sustained by Danny Rose against Leicester City on Sunday forced Vertonghen to slot in at left-back, paving the way for Foyth to make his Champions League bow on the right side of a central defensive tio.
Mauricio Pochettino left his compatriot out of his squad for the group stages, but a series of impressive domestic performances and the sale of Mousa Dembele opened up a vacancy for a spot in the knockout stages.
And it’s safe to say this was a huge indicator of what’s to come from the budding 21-year-old prodigy. Without setting the world alight, Foyth was excellent throughout both defensively and in possession.
Foyth set the tone for his performance with just a few minutes on the clock when he calmly turned his opposite number and dribbled out of trouble before delivering the ball into Harry Winks’ feet, leaving Spurs hearts in mouths all the while.
It was the type of bravery which separates the good from the great ball-playing defenders, and there were certainly shades of Manchester City’s John Stones in the performance.
The mistakes Foyth has made already this season could easily have forced him to compromise his ball-playing principles and simply boot the ball into row Z, but he showcased a commitment to the philosophy which Pep Guardiola and Stones, valued at £54 million by Transfermarkt, will naturally admire.
During a period of time in which Stones was coming under huge pressure to play it safe rather than play out from the back after making a handful of errors, Guardiola jumped to his defence, per The Independent.
“John Stones has more personality than all of us here together in this room.
“More balls than everyone here. I like that. I love him. Under pressure, the people criticise him, so I am delighted to have John. With all his huge amount of mistakes. I love him. I love guys with this personality.”
That’s exactly what Foyth showed on his European bow: balls and personality.
Sure, his balls almost cost Spurs in the first-half when he was dispossessed on the edge of his own area, but his performance was verging on flawless aside from that one minor error.
The statistics read favourably for Foyth at full-time, with four interceptions – joint-highest with Vertonghen – two key passes and two dribbles illuminating his quality at both ends of the pitch.
A marauding run down the touchline in the first-half showcased his forward-thinking instinct and his composure to find a Spurs shirt in promising positions; it was just a shame that Christian Eriksen couldn’t prevent his strike from ballooning into the Wembley sky and harmlessly over the crossbar.
There are certainly parallels to be drawn between the respective styles of both Stones and Foyth.
Guardiola’s prodigy has blossomed into a key senior player and stamped out mistakes without changing his style, and on the evidence of the Argentine’s ballsy performance against Dortmund he looks well-equipped to follow a comparable path to the Premier League winner at Tottenham.