Prompting a move away from Brussels and being linked with a number of European elite clubs, Biglia landed in Rome last summer to proudly wear the sky blue jersey of Lazio. When Lazio signed Biglia, havoc prevailed in the streets of Rome. Who would be the first choice defensive midfielder in Vladimir Petkovic’s 4-1-4-1 formation? After all, the Aquile already had the impressive Cristian Ledesma, a specialist defensive midfielder.
Ledesma, who hadn’t allowed his form to dip since Davide Ballardini left Lazio in early 2010, was difficult to displace. However, Biglia’s skills couldn’t be underestimated either. Petkovic only seldom played both Biglia and Ledesma in central midfield in a 4-2-3-1, and preferred Biglia in the majority of situations when he opted for his infamous 4-1-4-1 style. Ledesma’s experience was quickly supplanted by the Argentine’s skill.
Biglia just as quickly won the admiration of new boss Edy Reja too. Under Reja, Biglia became first choice defensive midfielder for the Biancocelesti. Despite Lazio finishing ninth in Serie A last season, Biglia enjoyed a good first season for the Aquile. His impressive displays even earned him a spot in Alejandro Sabella’s 2014 World Cup squad.
Biglia was a substitute throughout the group stages, but earned a chance to impress in the Round of 16 game against Switzerland when the midfielder came on in the second half of extra-time.
Sabella looked intent to deny the Swiss counter-attack as the tactician pulled Javier Maschereno back to play as the third centre-back. So the initial 4-3-3 formation turned into a 5-3-2 in extra time, with Biglia linking the gap between Mascherano’s defensive zone and Angel Di Maria in the attacking half of midfield.
Biglia and Lionel Messi pressed Swiss full-back Stephan Lichtsteiner in the centre of the pitch and succeeded in dispossessing the Juventus defender. The tactic allowed Messi to find the space to make the run that ultimately released Di Maria on the left, leaving the Real Madrid midfielder to dispatch the goal and seal a last-gasp win.
Reports have it that Sabella started Biglia ahead of Fernando Gago due not only to his work-rate, but also for his knowledge of Belgian football after having played there for seven years.
Biglia played the entire 90 minutes of the game and was successful in almost all departments. With the exception of a yellow card, for his hard tackle on Jan Vertonghen, Biglia had a great game. His passing, defending, and ability to go forward all shone through. Biglia was also more effective than Gago for allowing Di Maria to play freer role in the midfield, even if the Real Madrid winger had to be hauled off due to injury 30 minutes into the game.
Biglia’s vision on the field was equally laudable. His through ball to release Messi in the dying minutes was delicious.
Considering the performance against Belgium, it is highly likely that Biglia should have won a starting berth in Sabella’s team for the remainder of the tournament.