ARTICLES Opinion

Harry Maguire is finally getting the respect that he deserves

England defeated their demons on Tuesday as Gareth Southgate’s men were victorious 2-0 against Germany in the round-of-16 of Euro 2020, with second half goals from Raheem Sterling and Harry Kane. It was the fourth clean sheet in the tournament for The Three Lions, who have been so impressive in the defensive side of their game so far during Euro 2020.

The first two matches saw Tyrone Mings play an important role in the England defence while Harry Maguire was absent, but the return of the Manchester United skipper saw England improve their game in defence, but also in their progressing of the ball.

Against Czech Republic, Maguire started the match and played the most passes into the final third [8] throughout the match, with one being a superb pass into Kane, who should’ve gave the defender a rare assist.

Then, on Tuesday, the 28-year-old centre-back took home the Star of the Match award, after a colossal performance alongside John Stones and Kyle Walker in a back three. However, for Manchester United supporters, this was a standard showing from their club captain and one that we’ve been accustomed to across the course of the last year.

Maguire controlled the tempo from the backline and was often probing the German set-up with passes into Luke Shaw on the left flank or into central areas. He also was extremely focused out of possession, forcing multiple turnovers by nipping in ahead of the opposition attackers. Maguire was powerful in the air, but would’ve felt like he could’ve directed a header better in the first half.

It was his comfort on the ball, which has been one of his best assets all season, which was clear to see as Maguire drove into space constantly throughout the match, and ultimately he helped his side make history.

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The £80 million price tag placed on his head when he moved from Leicester to Manchester meant that Maguire would be scrutinised heavily when he wore Red and in his first season, where he was adapting to a majorly different defensive set-up, it seemed that the centre-back’s performances were impacted.

While he still improved the backline of United, Maguire’s lack of pace seemed a problem in his debut season, and he wasn’t one of the best centre-backs in the league, which is what you’d expect for what the club paid, yet, in his second year in Red, he’s proved a lot of people wrong.

Throughout the 2020/21 campaign, Maguire was arguably the best centre-back in the Premier League alongside Manchester City’s Ruben Dias, and it was his injury at the back end of the season which was a major reason that United fell short in the Europa League final. It also caused concern for the entire nation, where it seemed that everybody recognised that he was the most important member of the backline.

A player’s absence is often where people realise their importance to the team and that is exactly what happened for many Manchester United fans while their skipper was out, but his last two performances for The Three Lions have been two which have shown the nation how good England’s number six really is.

Speaking on the historic win against Germany, Maguire was happy to put a smile on the fans faces and looked ahead to the next match on Saturday, where England face Ukraine in Rome. The Manchester United captain told BBC Sport: “It’s a magnificent moment for myself, the team, the fans, everyone involved in the country.

“It’s been a tough couple of years for everyone in this country, so to put smiles back on faces, we know at home everyone will be celebrating – everyone in the stadium has enjoyed a great moment, but like I say, we’re not done with it yet and have a big game on Saturday.”

Luke Shaw has also brought his impressive season with United onto the international stage. The left-back assisted the first goal yesterday with a fine low-cross into Sterling. He has also created the most chances among England players, with five, this includes two big chances created too.

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Meanwhile Marcus Rashford is yet to start a match in the tournament, making all three of his his appearances in the group stage from the bench.

Maguire and Shaw should hold their places in the line-up in the quarter-finals, as they both look to continue their impressive tournaments into the latter stages of Euro 2020.

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