Jose Mourinho has called the Croatian midfielder one of the best in the Euro – and would start Phil Foden, Mason Mount and Jack Grealish if he is in place of England manager Gareth Southgate.
The former Chelsea, Manchester United, Real Madrid and Tottenham boss will be part of talkSPORT’s Euro coverage this summer and has joined the Breakfast show as the tournament prepares to kick off tonight.
The Special One was keen to stress that he fully supports Southgate and the England players, whom he knows a lot, but gave his honest opinion on the Three Lions and how they should line up in their game. opening.
Oddly enough, he wouldn’t find a place for Luke Shaw or Marcus Rashford in his squad, despite working with them at Manchester United.
Here’s what he has to say before England clash with Croatia on Sunday …
Mourinho has spoken at length about the quality of his midfield and believes that is the home area of the game.
The Portuguese knows Luka Modric well from having coached him for Real Madrid, and is a big fan of Marcelo Brozović and Matteo Kovacic.
“Watching the first game against Croatia, and I think it’s a tournament where you have to go game after game and forget what comes next,” he said.
“England will face one of the best midfielders in the tournament. Brozovic is the best of the best. He’s a fantastic player. Aggression but at the same time super technical and arriving in the box and coming from a more defensive position.
“Modric has had a fantastic career. Kovacic is better than people say. He played in all the clubs I’ve been to but never with me. He played for Real Madrid but not with me, he played for Chelsea but not with me and played for Inter but not with me.
“I like the guy and he follows my clubs.
“When you play against a strong midfielder, that’s where you have to control. Why play three in the back when their power is not there.
“Since Manduzkic finished, where is Croatia’s best striker? This is their problem. They have Perisic on the side, but he’s not a striker. Rebic is playing around but he’s there in midfield.
“For me, you play with two central defenders and you focus on your midfield. Midfielder to play it.
“I think that to be offensive, you have to control the games. How can you be offensive if you don’t have the ball. It’s important to control this midfielder and it’s more important to play with three midfielders, I didn’t say which ones because you haven’t asked me yet.
“I think it’s important to control this area and not be afraid to play with a back five. I think it’s enough to play with a back four and full-backs with the freedom to go.
“When I have seen three midfielders, one of them might be, for example, Phil Foden. It’s not like we’re talking about Henderson, Rice, and Kalvin Phillips.
“I think it’s important to be in control. You let them play, they play. They play and take the initiative from you.
“Emotionally, it’s not good because you are home and want to start. It is important to dominate and not to let them play. To dominate is to be strong and to be in control. When you have a good midfielder like England can have, then in attack you add three attacking players to that midfielder.
“I think England has it all. Gareth has tried a few times with five in the back, so I don’t see a problem if he wants to go with that.
Mourinho believes Foden could be part of a three-way midfielder against Croatia[/caption]
England record in the European Championship
Mourinho received the incredible statistic that England have never won their opening game of a European Championship.
He said: “You English people are always pessimistic and you look at the statistics negative. I prefer not to watch it when it’s negative. Forget it.
“You have the opener against Croatia, it’s the opener, it’s difficult, it’s a good team.
“Forget about the negative record and just think about the game and think about winning. “
Asked if England could win, Mourinho added: “Can, 100%. Should? I think that’s a bit too much, it’s extra pressure they don’t need. sure they can and do have the potential.
“Saying that they should, you could say the same thing against France and Portugal. Should is too much. They should be positive and believe in themselves and watch every game and think they can win it. “
Harry Kane and Euro 2020
Many of England’s hopes will rest on Spurs forward Kane, whom Mourinho has managed for the past 18 months.
He said: “He pays the price for his success and he pays the price for his acts. People expect him to score goals all the time, and he does.
“I don’t think he’s very comfortable with it. I don’t think he’s even used to it. What I think is necessary is what we tried at Tottenham is that he falls so much and gets in between the lines and he’s such a technical player that he can help and link the game.
“If you do that you don’t have a player looking for that, then you find someone moving the ball and looking dangerous. In the end, he would naturally give up and leave his area. Great vision, overtaking and change of direction and explore the full rear rear.
“You can’t say that only he can score goals.
“I sent a message yesterday. Now is the time to (take a step back). Now is the time to close the door and leave them in their room with their family and close friends.
“On my side, when a player is my boy, he’s my boy even when we’re not working together.
His England XI against Croatia
Mourinho went on to name the England XI he would start for the Three Lions Euro 2020 opener against Croatia.
And there is no room for two of his former Manchester United players, Luke Shaw and Marcus Rashford.
“I think Gareth Southgate has great potential in his hands,” he said.
“I would go with Dean Henderson in the goal. Without Harry Maguire, I would go John Stones and Tyrone Mings as center-backs.
“Conor Coady is clearly a three defenseman, defenseman. The kid from Brighton (Ben White) is a good player but he’s just arrived so it doesn’t make sense to go in directly.
“Mings has good leadership qualities, he’s aggressive, a good personality. Stones is very quick at managing space.
“Right backs you can flip a coin but I would say Kyle Walker because you need the pace and a little experience, an older guy he closes the space inside maybe better as Reece James and Kieran Tripper.
“The left-back, I would go with Ben Chilwell, I wouldn’t think twice. He’s smart, he covers space, the inside diagonals very well, he’s dangerous on offense, he’s good in the air, good on set pieces.
“On Luke Shaw, he said:“ He had a good season and clearly an evolution in terms of emotion, professionalism. But Chilwell has something more, especially with the ball, he thinks he’s very calm under pressure. I love Chilwell.
“To play with Declan Rice, Jude Bellingham would be perfect but maybe this first game will play Kalvin Phillips with Rice.
“I would have my doubts here because Bellingham is the perfect player to play as a second midfielder with a guy like Rice.
“Harry Kane is untouchable, Jack Grealish is untouchable and the best position for Grealish is from the left. For me Marcus Rashford can only play there. When he plays on the right he is completely lost.
“He’s dynamic but totally broken right. He has very good left attack spaces. But Grealish to me is great – what he creates and his personality. I don’t like comparisons, but he reminds me of Luis Figo. I love her so much.
“The way he gets the ball, the personality, the way he attacks people, he makes mistakes, he gets penalties. He is very powerful. I love her so much.
“So I would say Grealish on the left, Mason Mount as number ten and because I like the wingers to come in, I would play Phil Foden on the right.
“I would play Foden, Mount and Grealish, which is why I say Phillips and Rice (behind them). Mount has an incredible football brain.
talkSPORT and talkSPORT 2 will have live commentary from EVERY Euro 2020 game. You won’t miss a thing as we provide you with 24-hour coverage, feedback and analysis from June 11 through July 11. Listen online HERE.
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