Let’s take a trip back to 2016, shall we? Following the demise of Rudi Garcia, Luciano Spalletti swooped into town, rescuing Roma’s trainwreck of a 2015-2016 season in the process, turning the frontline of Mohamed Salah, Diego Perotti and Stephan El Shaarawy into arguably the league’s most formidable frontline.
And with a full summer to fine tune his approach, Roma seemed primed for great things under Spalletti, but there was still a gaping wound in defense. With Antonio Rudiger facing a season on the sideline thanks to a torn ACL, Roma was grasping at straws, desperately scouring the globe for someone to stand next to Kostas Manolas,throw in another ACL injury to Mario Rui and the simple notion of employing Thomas Vermaelen, and things were looking bleak.
Enter Federico Fazio, a man to whom I was not terribly kind in August of 2016, citing his ability to breathe as his greatest contribution to Roma’s defense. In my, well, defense, Fazio had spent the better part of two years riding the pine between Sevilla and Tottenham, but I was, in hindsight, way, way, way off about Fazio.
Under the tutelage of Spalletti and now Di Francesco, Fazio has transformed himself into one of the league’s best central defenders, making up for his lack of speed with a keen understanding of positioning and timing. Fazio’s hard work, it seems, has not gone unnoticed in his homeland either...
There you have it, Fazio is among the 23 men selected to represent—and let’s face it, ultimately disappoint—Argentina in this summer’s World Cup. And looking at that list, depending on what tactics they use, Fazio stands the chance to log some serious minutes.
With Italy and the United States out of this year’s big dance, I was always going to throw my support to my fellow Italian emigree nation, and now that Fazio has made the cut, my decision is firm; Vamos, Argentina!