Gary Neville makes interesting claim about Leeds United's Kalvin Phillips after Euro 2020 finishes
Gary Neville has claimed that Leeds United’s Kalvin Phillips and West Ham United’s Declan Rice were dominated by Jorginho and Marco Verratti in the Euro 2020 final on the ITV Football podcast.
England lost on penalties to Italy in heartbreaking fashion on Sunday evening, as they were unable to deliver their first tournament win since 1966.
Phillips and Rice were the midfield pairing who were once again picked to start the contest.
The Leeds and West Ham duo certainly didn’t deserve any criticism for their displays, with Rice arguably Man of the Match.
However, Italy really did get a stranglehold on possession in the match – particularly in the second half.
And Neville feels that England may need to replace either Rice or Phillips with a ball retainer in the coming years, if they are to push on to the next level.
“If you look at the centre of our midfield and then you look at Verratti and Jorginho, or De Jong for Holland or Busquests and Pedri for Spain. These are rhythm players, who keep possession, who keep the game moving and connect everything,” he said.
“They make sure you are able to keep possession constantly.
“If you look at our midfield options last night – we have Declan Rice and Kalvin Phillips, who I think are our best two midfielders at the moment.
“One of them is centre-back like in Rice, even though he was outstanding [against Italy], and Kalvin Phillips is good on the ball but he’s certainly not a Jorginho or Verratti in terms of how they play.
“If Gareth had a Jorginho or Verratti he would have played in the way Italy did.
“If we talk about how we move it forward, how do we now produce a couple of central midfielders who can dominate a midfield in a huge final or semi-final.
“We got dominated by Modric in the semi-final in Russia and got dominated by Jorginho and Verratti.”
The defensive shield
What Phillips and Rice did offer England throughout the tournament was defensive solidity.
England didn’t concede a goal from open play throughout Euro 2020, which is testament to just how well their back line was protected.
Phillips certainly did his reputation no harm, but Leeds will not be thinking of cashing in on their star man.
Instead, Marcelo Bielsa’s side will surely be planning to build their team around Phillips’ talents in the years ahead – after he proved what an impact he could have on the international stage.
Controversial at Leeds?
Neville’s comments may also cause some debate among Leeds fans.
When Phillips is at Leeds, Bielsa’s side do try to dominate the ball, with Phillips a key part of that.
It, therefore, is up for debate whether England’s failure to keep the ball for long periods was due to a failing with the players or by design, with Gareth Southgate generally a fairly defensive minded coach.
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