Football

Danny Mills' Take On England-Italy Midfield Battle Is Absolutely Delusional

Danny Mills' Take On England-Italy Midfield Battle Is Absolutely Delusional

For those of you that haven't heard, England are playing in the Euro 2020 final this weekend.

For most of those outside of the English bubble, Gareth Southgate's side will enter the game against Italy as slight underdogs. Italy have played the best football in the tournament and look to have a perfect blend of top level experience and youthful exuberance.

However, don't tell that to those across the Irish Sea.

Many in the British press believe that the trophy has England's name on it. Rio Ferdinand recently said that Italy would not be able to match them in the final, an opinion that is becoming increasingly common as the week goes on.

Most people would say that with the possible exception of the front line, the Italians look better better equipped in most areas of the pitch.

That's what makes this conversation on Talksport so baffling.

Speaking on the station, former Leeds United defender Danny Mills and football journalist Darren Lewis shared their belief that England's midfield was probably better than Italy's.

Advertisement

Just a reminder, that's an Italian midfield likely to feature Jorginho, Marco Verratti, and Nicolo Barella, a trio who have won league titles in various countries and have a huge amount of top level experience.

On the other hand, England's duo of Declan Rice an Kalvin Phillips have played exactly zero minutes of European football between them. Mason Mount could also be in that area of the pitch, although you suspect he will end up making way as Gareth Southgate reverts to a 3-4-3 system.

But why should that matter? Mills and Lewis would go on to explain why they think the English midfield is more than a match for Italy's.

First up, Lewis said that Jorginho is a much lesser player in the Italian team and Marco Verratti does not show up in big games.

Advertisement

There is two things I think about the Italian midfield. One thing is that Jorginho is not the same player without Kante alongside him.

His passing range is fantastic but it's more effective when he has someone like Kante doing all that graft and hardwork.

Verratti is a fascinating one too because he is a good player, but when is the last time he had a good game in a big game, in a really big game?

He tends to go missing at club level. There are lots of people who might disagree with me, but does he turn up in those big games?

To be fair Phillips and Rice have never failed to show up in big games at club level, mostly because they've never actually played in one.

Danny Mills would go on to compare each player in the midfield man-for-man, performing some remarkable mental gymnastics to tip things in England's favour.

If you match them up player for player, Rice and Jorginho, I don't think there's much between them. Obviously Jorginho is a lot more experienced. I think Declan Rice has been fantastic the way he just sits in front.

Jorginho has maybe got a better range of passing, but he doesn't play forward passes...

Then I'm looking at Phillips versus Verratti. They're both very good on the ball, Phillips is very good on the ball and takes all the set-pieces for Leeds don't forget. That's a big responsibility...

Then you go Mason Mount up against [Nicolo] Barella, I think Mount is better than him.

It's quite balanced in there, but if our three play well we dominate that midfield battle.

Saying Jorginho 'might' be better on the ball than Declan Rice might be the understatement of the year, while you would also argue that Kalvin Phillips taking set-pieces at Leeds does not make him a better player than Marco Verratti.

You get the feeling Danny Mills could be eating those words by Sunday night.

SEE ALSO: An Incredible Series Of Fortunate Events Brought England To The EURO 2020 Final

Gary Connaughton

You may also like