Football News

“There’s an art to his game” – England’s ‘Yorkshire Pirlo’ Kalvin Phillips excels in advanced role vs Croatia

By Ben Green

Published: 16:04, 13 June 2021

England got their Euro 2020 group-stage campaign off to a flyer, beating Croatia 1-0 at Wembley, and there was an unexpected star man on the day: Kalvin Phillips.

As news filtered through of Gareth Southgate’s team selection just over an hour before kick-off, there was a collective roll of the eyes from England fans as Kieran Trippier started at left-back, Jadon Sancho failed to make the matchday squad, and two ‘defensive midfielders’ were selected ahead of Jack Grealish.

This promotion is only valid for new UK QuinnBet customers aged 18 years and over who have yet to avail of a QuinnBet Welcome Offer. Customers can also avail of a QuinnCasino Welcome Offer. To activate your Sportsbook 50% Back as a Free Bet up to £25 and 10 Free Spins, deposit and bet on any Sportsbook markets of your choice at odds of evens (2.00) or greater. At least 3 bets (on different selections) must be placed to qualify for 50% back, 2 of which must be 50% in value of the largest bet you place. Provided you place at least 1 bet of £10 or greater at minimum odds evens (2.00) or greater you’re guaranteed a £5 Free Bet and 20 Free Spins either way. Sportsbook losses are calculated from the time of your first settled bet until 23:59 the same day. Only settled bets from the first day of Sportsbook bets qualify for inclusion. Casino losses qualify separately under QuinnCasino 50% Cashback Welcome Offer. If at the end of the day (23:59) your account has losses overall, you will get 50% back as a free bet up to a maximum of £25 plus 20 Free Spins. Customers who qualify for this Sportsbook Welcome Offer are also entitled to qualify for a QuinnCasino Welcome offer. Customers who deposit using Neteller/Skrill do not qualify for this offer.

Bet £10 and get £30 in free bets T&Cs apply

18+ only. New customers using Promo code H30 only, Min £10/€10 stake, min odds 1/2, free bets paid as 2 x £15/€15, free bets credited after settlement of first qualifying bet, free bets will expire 30 days after the qualifying bet is placed, payment method/player/country restrictions apply. Full terms apply. BeGambleAware.

18+ only. New customers using Promo code H30 only. T&Cs apply.

Claim Here
Get up to £100 in bet credits T&Cs apply

18+ only. New customers only. Min deposit £5. Bet Credits available for use upon settlement of bets to value of qualifying deposit. Min odds, bet and payment method exclusions apply. Returns exclude Bet Credits stake. Time limits and T&Cs apply. BeGambleAware.

18+ only. T&Cs apply.

Claim Here
£20 in Free Bets when you place a £5 bet T&Cs apply

18+ only. New customers only. First single & e/w bet only. Odds of 1/1 or greater. 2 x £10 bet tokens. Free bet stakes not included in returns. Free bets exclude virtuals. Free bets are non withdrawable. No free bet expiry. Eligibility restrictions and further T&Cs apply.

18+ only. New customers only. T&Cs apply.

Claim Here

However, what appeared a bizarre, perhaps even overly-cautious tactical approach from Southgate before a ball was kicked, proved a masterclass, as he found the right balance, nullified Croatia’s world-class midfield and bravely turned his back on Marcelo Bielsa, deploying Phillips, not as a metronomic tempo-setter (as he has developed under the enigmatic Argentine at Leeds) but instead, as an advanced playmaker.

In tandem with Mason Mount, the duo were England’s creative release valves, given carte blanche to progress up the turf safe in the mind that Declan Rice was stationed at the base sweeping up any loose balls, protecting the backline and recycling possession.

Phillips, playing almost as a mezzala in the subterranean heat, took to his first international tournament like a duck to water, coping with the arid air, energising England’s midfield and exploiting the half space with the grace and creative verve of a veteran playmaker.

Paddy Power offer: Get up to £70 in free bet builders

CLAIM HERE. New Customer Offer. Place a single bet of min. stake £10 at odds of at least 1.50 (1/2) on the Euro 2020 Winner outright market. You will get £10 in free bet builders every time your selection wins a match, which will happen the morning after the match. Only deposits made using cards or Apple Pay will qualify. T&Cs apply. Paddy’s Rewards Club: Get a £10 free bet when you place 5x bets of £10+. T&Cs apply. BeGambleAware.

As a player aptly bestowed the moniker the ‘Yorkshire Pirlo’ at Elland Road, given his effortless ability to dictate the pace and rhythmically distribute, this was a role unfamiliar to the 25-year-old but one he relished and completely bossed.

Such was his performance in the capital that BBC pundit and former England international Jermaine Jenas mentioned during his commentary that the Leeds enforcer has already gone from possible starter, to an absolute starter going forward.

“He’s been brilliant. Gone from a maybe starter, to a must starter,” Jenas commented on during the game.

“He was brilliant at breaking up play. This is what international football is all about, not allowing opposition teams to get into their rhythm, and Phillips breaks up play in a cute way.

“There’s an art to it. The coolness of him is what I love.”


When asked by Gary Lineker who had caught his eye at half time, Frank Lampard, during BBC’s match coverage, chimed in: “Phillips in midfield, he’s brought the energy.

“It was brave by Southgate to tweak the midfield and play Rice slightly deeper, with Phillips on the right and Mount on the left.”

Indeed Southgate’s bold decision paid dividends and it was Phillips who reaped the rewards, impressing with his forward-thinking approach, in which his driving run and pinpoint pass set up Raheem Sterling for the only goal of the game.

But, beyond his attacking approach Phillips, who flourished in his maiden Premier League campaign, was equally impressive with the defensive aspects of his game, in which he has truly made a name for himself at Elland Road.

Jenas mentioned his “cute” breaking up of play, perhaps underpinned by the fact he committed more fouls than any player on the pitch but did not pick up a yellow card (three), while he also finished the game with a 94% pass completion rate, bettered only by Phil Foden (95%) among starters.

So an assist, a supreme passing range and his typical terrier-like exploits, Phillips was simply everywhere, and against an elite midfield trident containing Luka Modric, Mateo Kovacic and Marcelo Brozovic, this proves the Leeds man is exactly where he should be: on the grand stage.


Sign up to the Best Football Offers

A valid email is required.

Invalid e-mail.

Yes I am over 18.
Yes, I would like to receive email updates on exciting offers from For more info on how we and our partners process your data, see Privacy and Cookie Policies.
You need to confirm that you are over 18 and that you want to receive updates.

*By subscribing you are confirming that you are over 18 years of age.

*All emails include an unsubscribe link, where you can opt out any time. *Please see our privacy and cookies policy..


Newsletter error