Soccer-Jorginho, Verratti will be England's biggest test, says Phillips

Soccer Football - Euro 2020 - Semi Final - Italy v Spain - Wembley Stadium, London, Britain - July 6, 2021 Italy's Jorginho celebrates after he scores the winning penalty during the shoot-out Pool via REUTERS/Carl Recine

(Reuters) - Midfielder Kalvin Phillips believes the Italian midfield duo of Jorginho and Marco Verratti will be England's biggest test in Sunday's European Championship final, but the team has what it takes to nullify their threat.

"I've played against Jorginho," Leeds United's Phillips was quoted as saying by The Guardian on Friday. "An amazing player, especially for Chelsea. A player who is very good on the ball, using his body to get away from people.

"There are going to be a lot of different challenges that Italy are going to cause us.

"Verratti is an amazing player as well. I've always admired him. With their two midfielders it's as difficult as it gets. We know it's going to be a tough game. To come up against those two midfielders is going to be hardest test we've had."

Phillips and fellow defensive midfielder Declan Rice have excelled in the tournament, providing defensive cover in front of the backline, but have shown they can push forward when needed and provide penetrative passes.

It is no surprise that manager Gareth Southgate has kept his faith in the pairing.

"Gareth is very 'us' orientated," Phillips said. "He knows what Italy are going to be like, how they're going to play, but he's orientated on how we will play, how we can affect them."

Phillips said forming a close friendship with Rice had also helped the duo get the best out of each other.

"He's an amazing lad," Phillips said. "When I first came in I didn't really know anybody and he was one of the first to say hello to me. Ever since we met we have always been pals.

"I knew he played in my position, so I knew I was competing against him. Over time I have played a little bit higher up. We have to work together. Me and Declan do that very well."

(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Tom Hogue)

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