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Harry Maguire’s defensive masterclass helps England set up France quarterfinal clash

by Ayantan Chowdhury


Erik ten Hag’s reign as Manchester United boss has helped rejuvenate the faltering careers of quite a few under-performing stars, but one first-team starter has fallen well below the pecking order.

Harry Maguire‘s form over the course of last season was nothing to write home about but even he could not have envisaged his fall from grace under the Dutchman.

Currently fourth-choice at United, the club skipper has started only thrice in the Premier League and his alarming lack of minutes had led to calls for England manager Gareth Southgate to consider dropping him from the World Cup squad.

Maguire shines once again

But Southgate chose to persist with the centre-back, knowing he has hardly ever let him down and that trend has continued on the biggest stage once again.

Despite the barrage of abuse and persistent trolling, the 29-year-old was one of the Three Lions’ brightest players during the group stage as England made the Round of 16 with relative ease.

And against Senegal on Sunday, Maguire was once again a defensive colossus, rarely putting a foot wrong as Southgate’s team emerged 3-0 victors to set up a tasty quarterfinal clash against defending champions France.

His passing was smooth as usual, recording an impressive 82% passing accuracy after completing 62 passes and having 86 touches of the ball. The former Leicester City man also completed three long balls.

Defensively, there was very little to complain once again as he won five out of the six ground duels and made four tackles including a fine last-ditch one early on in the game to keep things level.

Ready to silence his critics

That was not all as he also made two clearances. one interception as well as blocked an attempt on goal. In the process, Maguire helped England to their third clean sheet of the tournament out of four games.

United legend Rio Ferdinand had spoken of how the defender is made to feel at home by Southgate and how he comes alive in an England shirt and that was once again on display against the Africans.

His understanding with John Stones is immaculate and with his pace beside him. Maguire can afford to play out from the back and use his passing skill to open up the game for England.

It will be a difficult test against the mighty French with Maguire having to deal with Olivier Giroud. But on current form, one cannot write off the United man’s chances of silencing his critics once again.

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