World Cup 2022 key battle: England Harry Maguire v Wales Gareth Bale | Football

Harry Maguire and Gareth Bale are set to face each tonight (Pictures:

Maguire was 13 and playing in Sheffield United’s academy when Bale was made his Southampton first-team debut as a 16-year-old.

Bale became the most expensive footballer in history in 2013 when he left Tottenham for Real Madrid for £86million and Maguire the costliest defender, and still is, at £80m when he joined current club Manchester United from Leicester three years ago.

Now 33, Bale is seeing out his career in the MLS at Los Angeles.

While Maguire, 29, is Erik ten Hag’s third-choice centre-back. So when they collide at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium tonight, the pair will have something in common and it is not just they are very pricey – it’s that they don’t play very often.

Maguire has made seven starts this season in all, two of them for England in Qatar, and earned his 50th cap against the USA. Bale played 13 times for
LAFC during the MLS season, starting just twice but scoring three goals to help them land the US title.

His influence on Wales may not be as great as it was but he still has the ability to decide matches and so often pops up for his country when it counts.

Maguire v Bale fact box

1 Goal for Bale against England, putting Wales ahead in the Euro 2016 group-stage match between the sides, which was eventually won 2-1 by the Three Lions.

41 Goals in 110 Wales appearances for Bale, five coming in 2022. Of Maguire’s seven England goals, four were scored in qualification for Qatar.

Maguire is clearly saving his best for England too given his one-man shut-out job against the USA when he threw himself in front of everything that went near Jordan Pickford’s goal.

Neither man regularly starts for their club but at the World Cup they know they can be heroes and their clash tonight should be eminently watchable, not least to see who still has it after being so lightly used this year.

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