How did Josko Gvardiol perform against England?

Earlier this week, Josko Gvardiol claimed he wants to move to Liverpool but his display against England in the first game of the EUROs highlights why he’s not ready yet.

Speaking to 24hr Sata, he said: “From a young age, I watched Liverpool games with my dad and I grew up with just them.

“When I took football more seriously, I started following them, and I definitely want the Premier League and Liverpool move one day.”

How did he play against England?

First-half

In the first group stage game of Croatia’s European Championship campaign, Gvardiol was deployed at left-back where he played 41 games for Rubin Kazan this season.

From the very first minute, Phil Foden had Gvardiol pegged. The Manchester City winger hit the post after he was allowed to cut inside but a toe from the RB Leipzig loanee deflected the shot onto the woodwork.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 13: Phil Foden of England shoots and hits the post during the UEFA Euro 2020 Championship Group D match between England and Croatia at Wembley Stadium on June 13, 2021 in London, England.
LONDON, ENGLAND – JUNE 13: Phil Foden of England shoots and hits the post during the UEFA Euro 2020 Championship Group D match between England and Croatia at Wembley Stadium on June 13, 2021 in London, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Still very green, Gvardiol needs to learn to send wingers to the byline instead of letting them cut in as that chance could very well have seen Croatia 1-0 down within a few minutes of the game beginning.

The rest of the first half was a bit disappointing from a player that has earned rave reviews in Russia. 25 minutes in, he nutmegged Kyle Walker to cut inside but his cross went out near the opposite corner flag and a good chance to assist Ante Rebic went missing.

Around the 30th minute mark, he curiously ducked and let the ball go out, showing a poor lack of awareness as Ivan Perisic, the player he thought was behind him, was actually 15 yards to his left waiting to receive a pass from the 19-year-old.

Second-half

His second-half display was better but it was still a mixed bag. He realised that he needed to send Foden down the line on his weaker right foot which meant the Man City gem was forced to go backwards, nullifying the effect he was able to have on proceedings.

TOPSHOT - England's midfielder Phil Foden (L) and Croatia's defender Josko Gvardiol vie for the ball during the UEFA EURO 2020 Group D football match between England and Croatia at Wembley Stadium in London on June 13, 2021.
TOPSHOT – England’s midfielder Phil Foden (L) and Croatia’s defender Josko Gvardiol vie for the ball during the UEFA EURO 2020 Group D football match between England and Croatia at Wembley Stadium in London on June 13, 2021. (Photo by LAURENCE GRIFFITHS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Then, after showing an improvement on his naive first-half performance, Gvardiol got sucked into midfield which was exploited by a pass from Kyle Walker to Kalvin Phillips.

Once he realised his poor positioning, he dived in on the Leeds United midfielder which allowed the Premier League star to advance even further before he assisted Raheem Sterling’s winner.

In response to his mistake, he put in a brilliant last-ditch challenge on Harry Kane to put the Spurs man off and saved what would have been a certain goal.

Full-time verdict

He’s only 19 so it’s not a good look to be harsh on him but it’s clear that he’s not ready for a big move to a club like Liverpool but he’s got a bright future and certainly has the potential to become a top player.

His ability to play at left-back and at centre-back makes him a valuable and versatile option but he will have to wait for his dream move to Anfield for a few years at least.

Michael Mongie
Football Central Media Group founder, owner and editor.

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