Fazio walks tall for Argentina
© Foto-net

As well as being a clash of footballing styles, this Sunday's decider between Argentina and Czech Republic will also be a game of physical contrasts. The Albiceleste, with most their players no taller than 1.70m, will need all their ingenuity to overcome a side which boasts an average player height of 1.83m.

That said, there is one player in the Argentinian ranks who is more than capable of looking the imposing Europeans in the eye: Federico Fazio who, at 1.94m, will be the tallest man on the pitch this Sunday. Speaking on the eve of the Final to FIFA.com, the FC Sevilla defender was bracing himself for a tough battle against familiar opposition: "They're big lads, that's for sure. They're also hard tacklers and very good in defence. Even though our players are not the tallest, in terms of quality they're second to none, which is comforting."

Fazio is one of three players to have been ever-present for Argentina in Canada, his first game in Group E pitting him against Sunday's opponents. "They defended deep and waited for us to come at them in that game, a tactic they've also employed against other sides. I remember us having a lot of chances to score but not being able to take them. We still played well in that game, despite our opening-day nerves," says the 20-year-old.

Asked if he expected a similarly cautious approach by the Czechs in the Final, Fazio warns: "A lot of people say they're not the most pleasing on the eye, yet they've quietly gone about their business and made it to the final. People said the same thing about Italy in 2006, and they ended up being world champions."

A stellar rise
Anyone who still thinks big players are slow need only look at the progress Fazio has made in the last six months. The defender has gone from Argentine second division outfit Ferrocarril Oeste to one of Spain's top sides, FC Sevilla, and now to top it all, he is preparing for the FIFA U-20 World Cup Final.

"It's hard to take in everything that's happened to me in such a short space of time. I remember watching the final of Netherlands 2005 between Argentina and Nigeria, when I was still in the Ferro youth side. It has been a huge effort getting this far, which makes it doubly satisfying now. But yes, everything has happened very quickly," he says, adding that it is yet to really sink in that he is on the eve of such a momentous game.

"It seems like yesterday that we were touching down in Canada, and now we're in the final. I never imagined I'd be competing in such a game, even though I know Argentina's reputation. Even so, experiencing it first hand is very moving," the player admits.

In Sunday's Final, this big fan of Rock Nacional (Argentinian rock music) will be without his usual partner in central defence, suspended team captain Matias Cahais. "He's a very important player who means a lot to the group, but we have players of real quality who can come in for him," he says with assurance.

Asked if he'll be trying to use his height tomorrow to score his first goal of tournament, the player finishes the interview by saying: "I know I haven't scored yet, but hopefully I can get one tomorrow. While it would be beautiful, I have to recognise that I've a different job, and I'll settle for a winner's medal. That has always been my dream."