In the course of history a lot has been said and written about walls. The Chinese Wall, the wall in Berlin, Hadrian's Wall, Disney's Wall-E, Oasis' hit Wonderwall and Trump's imaginary Mexican wall.Some are a bit controversial, some are famous monuments that everybody wants to see......... I mean, c'mon, Wall-E? Damn, what a good Disney movie!
In sports there are also so-called 'walls'. Just think of the sturdy defence of Italy in the eighties, or Pique-Mascherano for Barcelona, or Vidic-Ferdinand for Manchester United, or the BBC combination of Juventus: Barzagli-Bonucci-Chiellini. Defence wins you championships, that's right. And finally, Roma may have found (or build) its very own wall.
Ironically, there's no sight of an Italian in that defence. It's made of Greek, German and Argentinian blocks. And damn, those are some big and huge frikkin' blocks. Manolas (189cm) is considered the 'smallest' of the bunch, as both Rüdiger (190cm) and Fazio (195cm) are taller. All three have unbelievable stamina, can kick a ball in the right way and are simply a tough and menacing presence on the field. The nightmare of any attacker.
Kostas Manolas has always been a leader since he arrived in Rome and he quickly became a fan favorite. Toni Rüdiger surprised as all last season, but there were fears he wouldn't be the same after this injury. Boy, were we wrong. And the third piece, Federico Fazio, may be an even bigger surprise than Rüdiger. Brought in from Tottenham, where he rarely played, Fazio is dominating this league with his positioning, height and tactical awareness. 20 appearances in Serie A, as much as Radja and only Dzeko and Woj have featured in more games than Federico. Speaking of Woj, a couple of big and smart bodies in front of him works wonders apparently, as the Pole is enjoying a purple patch in Rome. Not a day too late I might say.
That curious trio now is hailed as one of Italy's strongest defences. Roma has four clean sheets in a row and hasn't conceded a single goal in 2017. Spalletti already experimented with a lot of centrebacks in his 4-2-3-1 formation but it seems Jesus and Vermaelen are completely out of the window (my Belgian heart bleeds). The 3-4-2-1/3-4-1-2 with Fazio, Manolas and Rüdiger is now a certainty and let's hope for Roma's sake that Luciano won't touch this line-up with a ten feet stick until May.
The best part of it all? We haven't talked about age yet. Fazio turns 30 this year, a still respectable age for a CB, while Manolas (25) and especially Rüdiger (23) still need to enter their prime. Just imagine what they can do if they play together for 2-3 more seasons. Again, look at Juve's BBC connection, where the youngest is Bonucci (29). Castan is still on loan and can regain some fitness and confidence at Torino, while Jesus proved recently that he isn't that horrible/a total disaster if he grows some balls. Just one smart addition and our CB roster looks set for at least five more seasons.
So rejoice Giallorossi! We have waited a long time for this, probably since the days of Mexes, Juan and Chivu, but AS Roma once again has a defence to be proud of. A 1-0 lead after 80 minutes? No sweat, no worries, we'll take home the three points no matter what. And that's exactly what makes the difference between this Roma and Garcia's Roma. A Roma which always was second-tier, after Juventus.
After all, a wall is the most important thing of a kingdom. Just ask China, Hadrian or Trump.