Germany legend Michael Ballack has reserved praise for Harry Maguire following his strong performances for England at the heart of their defence. The Leicester City defender only made his Three Lions debut in October 2017 but he has since managed to secure a regular starting role, ousting the likes of Gary Cahill and Phil Jones to the bench.
Maguire most-recently netted the opener during the opener during England’s 2-0 win over Sweden and Ballack has now heaped praise on the centre-back for the aggressive nature of his play, he said: “I have to give a special mention to Harry Maguire. His excellent performances are another example of Gareth Southgate's positive coaching.
“He could have gone with the safe option of Gary Cahill's experience in that position but he chose Maguire and has been rewarded for it. England did not have an overly difficult route to the semi-final but they have overcome every obstacle they faced with some solid performances. I don't think they will be nervous about being in a World Cup semi-final.”
Both Maguire and John Stones have been in excellent form with their defensive and offensive work during the World Cup and this has provided a different asset for the Three Lions who have mostly relied on Harry Kane to find the scoresheet. Against most expectations, Gareth Southgate’s side have now reached the last-four of the World Cup and they should now back themselves to secure a victory over Croatia to book their final berth against France.
Like England, Croatia have impressed with their gameplay over the course of the campaign but they are likely to be hampered by the additional fatigue after needing penalty shoot-outs in both their knockout games against Denmark and Russia. There are no suspensions for either side as they head into the third-last match of the 2018 World Cup.