In a titanic clash of international giants, England beat Germany 2-0 at Wembley to advance to the quarter-finals of Euro 2020.
The headline grabbers will obviously be goalscorers Raheem Sterling and Harry Kane, with perhaps some love shown for supersub Jack Grealish. Fewer people will shine a light on Luke Shaw but his assist and pre-assist should see him get some love.
Harry Maguire, meanwhile, is unlikely to receive the same kind of plaudits in the media even though UEFA voted him their star of the match for his rock solid display at the heart of the England back-line.
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One person who has been more than happy to give Maguire credit, however, is Jurgen Klinsmann. Prior to the match the former German national team coach compared Maguire to former Bayern Munich defender Lucio.
“You have Harry Maguire, who kind of frightens everybody when this guy rolls through midfield,” Klinsmann said. “He reminds me a bit of Lucio — he looks like a Mustang running through everybody.”
Jürgen Klinsmann on BBC speaking about Harry Maguire: "When I was manager at Bayern I had the Brazilian centre-back Lúcio. He was very similar to Harry Maguire: when he got frustrated with things he used to get the ball in midfield and run off. He's a positive lad, a leader." pic.twitter.com/JtkykpZ7vb
— Squawka News (@SquawkaNews) June 29, 2021
That was quite the compliment from a guy who managed Bayern for Lucio’s last season in Bavaria when he was coming to the end of his career but still capable of total dominance. And it’s one Klinsmann doubled-down on after Maguire’s masterclass at Wembley.
“When I was manager at Bayern I had the Brazilian centre-back Lúcio. He was very similar to Harry Maguire: when he got frustrated with things he used to get the ball in midfield and run off. He’s a positive lad, a leader.”
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These comparisons are very bold but when you watch Maguire play you can start to see where Klinsmann is coming from. Like Lucio, the Englishman is a big body midfielder who is surprisingly quick across the ground, especially with the ball at his feet.
When he gets running he does, indeed, look like a wild mustang charging across the pitch. A little ungainly, but so powerful and determined you’d hate to get in his way because he’d probably just run you over.
Harry Maguire's game by numbers vs. #GER
100% aerial duels won
100% take-on success
88% pass accuracy
10 duels won
6 aerial duels won
4 ball recoveries
2 fouls won
0 x dribbled past
0 goals conceded
Mt Maguire. 🏔 pic.twitter.com/ZpTDYIwVYv
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) June 29, 2021
Also, like Lucio, Maguire is excellent with the ball at his feet. He missed the first two games at Euro 2020 and it was notable how sluggishly England moved the ball forward; in the two games he has played the Three Lions have been much more lively and driven and that is nearly all because Maguire has been the one starting attacks and he advances the ball supremely.
In fact Maguire advances the ball better than any current Brazilian centre-back in the national team set-up, a fact that shouldn’t be true but is. When you watch Brazil they are stilted and sluggish until the ball gets to Neymar’s feet, and with someone like Maguire (or prime Lucio, of course) they would begin attacks with much more verve and be much more dangerous because Neymar would get the ball 10-20 yards closer to the opponent’s goal instead of having to start attacks inside his own half. And any time you get Neymar closer to goal, you’re doing football right.
Of course what makes Maguire so good is that he isn’t just a ball-playing centre-back. The world’s most expensive defender is, first and foremost, a colossus. Built like a mountain with limbs, Maguire was immense today against Germany.
He won 5/5 aerial duels (a game-high) recovered the ball 4 times, made 4 clearances and wasn’t dribbled by a single time. And while Germany twice got 1v1 with Jordan Pickford by playing around/between John Stones and Kyle Walker, they never once bested England’s no. 6.
🏴 Harry Maguire = Star of the Match 🥇
— UEFA EURO 2020 (@EURO2020) June 29, 2021
A couple months ago Gary Neville was roundly mocked for saying Maguire was more important to England than Harry Kane. But watching how Euro 2020 has unfolded, Neville’s point becomes clear. Kane is obviously a superior player to Maguire, but England have other forwards, other goalscorers. However there is nobody else in the country who can do what Harry Maguire does for the defence, for the attack, for the whole side.
For all the jokes, for all the criticisms, Harry “Mustang” Maguire is exactly what England need, he is the team’s MVP. Moreover, for a guy who plays like Lucio he’s also exactly what Brazil need. And finally, a season that began in horrible personal circumstances is ending with him finally, two years after his move to Manchester United, beginning to justify his price-tag as the most expensive defender in the world.