Opinion

John McGinn proved he belongs on European stage in England stalemate

Max Cooper
John McGinn showed his quality yet again for Scotland
John McGinn showed his quality yet again for Scotland / Chloe Knott - Danehouse/Getty Images
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While all the post-match talk revolved around Chelsea youngster Billy Gilmour and his Man of the Match display in Scotland's 0-0 draw with England, one other midfield maestro continued his ascent to stardom.

Aston Villa man John McGinn was relentless over the course of the 90 minutes on Friday evening, leaving it all out on the Wembley turf to help secure a vital point in the Tartan Army's ambitions of progressing from Group D.

And to be honest, we shouldn't be at all surprised by the 26-year-old's ability to completely nullify a midfield that had previously silenced Luka Modric, Mateo Kovacic and Marcelo Brozovic only a few days earlier.

That's because McGinn is one of the most complete, all action midfielders in the business, and it's no exaggeration to say that he'd walk into at least 18 teams in the Premier League.

He encapsulated an entire nation's tenacity and desire to cause an upset in the derby on Friday, driving his side on following their disappointing defeat to Czech Republic on Monday. Little was expected of Scotland against the Three Lions, but those dampened expectations only fuelled the energiser bunny that is McGinn.

The Scotsman disrupted the England midfield of Kalvin Phillips, Declan Rice and Mason Mount, a trio which had bossed Croatia in their 1-0 victory. Phillips, MOTM in that win, was now second to every balls, unable to cut through the Scotland midfield and unwilling to risk stepping out of position to break forward.

McGinn locked down the centre of the pitch, keeping a close eye on the wandering Mount, and not allowing Rice the time he needed to carry the ball forward or pick out a suitable pass. He's never one to shirk a challenge either, and that intent to get stuck in from the off unsettled England, who didn't look up for the fight.

In fact, England's attempts to play the game and not the occasion backfired, as their emotionless display paled in comparison to the fight and spirit shown by McGinn and his teammates. They simply couldn't get close to the Villa star, in a performance which mirrored those which we see on a weekly basis from Ballon d'Or hopeful N'Golo Kante.

N'Golo Kante, John McGinn
A fascinating battle / Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

Unlike Kante, McGinn was also incredibly vocal on the pitch. He was responsible for holding that midfield together, and it was his guidance and discipline which built the platform for Gilmour to thrive so comfortably.

Like the Frenchman, he can also get forward to join the attack, and while the diminutive Chelsea star has only recently added the box-to-box element to his game, McGinn is a natural. His passing range is only to be admired, and his desire to add an extra body in both penalty areas is an invaluable trait, chipping in with some key goals for club and country over the years.

So, as the dust continues to settle on a not-so-dramatic evening in London, one thing has become abundantly clear: McGinn is worthy of this Euro 2020 stage, and deserves to demonstrate all the strings to his bow against the very best in world football.

Villa fans won't thank us for saying this, but they know it too: he's a top-four player, and it's only a matter of time before someone places their faith in the tenacious Scotsman.

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