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Italy vs England: Azzurri icon defends Maguire

Azzurri icon defends Harry Maguire, hits back at Man Utd captain's critics ahead of Italy vs England

September 22, 2022 By Ali M.
Southgate's decision to call up Maguire for the September international break sparked criticism once again, but one highly-regarded defender has leaped to Harry's aid.

As is the case with nearly every international break over the last year or two, Harry Maguire found himself under the microscope after being handed a call-up to the national team.

The much-maligned Manchester United center-back was one of 28 players to make Gareth Southgate's roster for the final international break before the 2022 FIFA World Cup, with this decision sparking criticism once more.

Despite his lack of playing time at Old Trafford this season, making only three starts so far in 2022/23, all of which ended in defeats, the world's most expensive defender continues to boast the backing of the Three Lions boss.

The fact that Southgate called up 12 defenders did not help as it added fuel to the anger, but with the European giants sitting bottom of their group in the UEFA Nations League and preparing for difficult back-to-back showdowns against Italy and Germany, fans were keen on seeing their national team move on from Maguire.

Nonetheless, not everyone is a critic of the 29-year-old. In fact, the former Leicester center-back has received praise from one of the best defenders of this generation: Giorgio Chiellini.

The Azzurri and Juventus icon, who Mourinho famously said could teach a course in defending at the prestigious Harvard University, argues that the criticism Maguire has been receiving is unfair. Additionally, Chiellini went against popular belief and labeled the Manchester United captain a "good player".

"I am sad for Maguire's situation because he is a good player", Chiellini told the Times.

"They require too much of him. Just because they paid £80 million for him, he has to be the best in the world every match? It's not right."

While the nine-time Serie A champion admitted that Harry pales in comparison to the world-class English center-backs of yesteryear, the 38-year-old echoed a sentiment many suspect Southgate of believing: Maguire-Stones is the nation's best defensive pairing.

"The value of the market is dependent on many aspects you can't control. It's not your fault," the MLS ace added.

"Him and [John] Stones are a good duo. OK, Maguire maybe is not Rio Ferdinand but he's good enough.

"With this situation, it's not helping [England] to do the best."

As mentioned earlier, Harry Kane and Co. sit bottom of League A Group 3, failing to win any of their opening four fixtures (D2, L2). With only two games remaining in this campaign, the Euro 2020 runners-up will have to pull off a miracle if they are to escape relegation to League B.

In fact, Southgate's men must win in Milan when they face the champions of Europe. A defeat to the Azzurri will confirm England's demotion to the second tier and a draw will likely not suffice.


Match details, result and original broadcast info

Italy 1 - 0 England

September 23, 2022 2:45pmStadio Giuseppe Meazza (Milano)

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