Less than a month ago, it looked like Marco Fabian was on his way back to Liga MX.
After two games on the bench for the Bundesliga's Eintracht Frankfurt, all signs pointed to the midfielder spending another tournament as a backup for one of Germany's least exciting clubs; before September, his last start for Frankfurt manager Niko Kovac had been on April 30th.
Fabian's journey to Europe seemed to fizzle out far too quickly earlier this year. After attracting plenty of interest during his first few German matches in January and February, the 27-year-old was an average player on a struggling roster. Fabian could do little to salvage wins for his team, and with only two assists and no goals in his first nine games, he wasn't doing much to stand out in the league, either. On top of that, Frankfurt was nearly relegated last season after finishing in 16th place. Only a narrow 2-1 aggregate win over Nürnberg in the relegation playoffs kept Kovac and his squad in Germany's top flight.
Whether Fabian convinced Kovac in practice that he deserved another shot, or if there was some sort of push from the marketing department, it was surprising to see Fabian make his first start of the season on September 17th. Since Frankfurt were going to be hosting Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez's Bayer Leverkusen, there was plenty of reason to believe the league wanted to promote its two biggest Mexican stars.
Marketing ploy or not, the star of the show was supposed to be Chicharito, not Fabian. Certainly nobody expected Fabian to steal the spotlight from one of the Bundesliga's most lethal strikers.
And yet, after 90 minutes, Fabian finished as the man of the match in Frankfurt's 2-1 victory against Leverkusen. Hernandez scored the lone goal for his side, but Fabian was spectacular with his goal and assist. Three days later, the attacking midfielder provided an assist for Frankfurt in a 2-0 win against Ingolstadt. On Saturday, he stepped up once again and scored Frankfurt's first goal in the 3-3 draw against Hertha Berlin.
In less than two weeks, Fabian went from an afterthought for Mexican fans to a potential call-up by El Tri manager Juan Carlos Osorio. Whether doubters want to admit it or not, if Fabian maintains this momentum, he is going to get an opportunity to shine for the national team.
Keeping in mind that Osorio has two U.S.-based friendlies next month before November's World Cup qualifying matches, it would be ideal for the manager to give Fabian a look in the next call-up. This then raises the question: Where would the Frankfurt player fit in an Osorio setup?
Although the manager has infamously tinkered with a few different formations that have induced panic attacks for many Mexico supporters, it appears his base formation is the 4-3-3.
In this formation, Fabian should be able to find a comfortable spot as one of the two attack-minded midfielders. For Mexican fans familiar withEl Tri's usual lineups, Fabian is most suited to fill Hector Herrera's current spot. Which isn't to say that Fabian deserves a spot over Herrera, but if the Porto player continues to struggle for minutes, you never know.
Osorio could also have a similar formation using Fabian as a lone attacking midfielder with two defensive midfielders right behind him. This would be closer to how Fabian lines up in Germany, which would then give him an opportunity to push up and become a second striker.
Will Fabian end up getting the call-up?
The odds are good, but it's difficult to predict what Osorio will do. It's also easy to think of a couple reasons why the manager would leave him out.
Although Fabian has done extremely well recently, his current good form started only ten days ago. Also, it's key to remember that Osorio saw Fabian play for the national team in March. Osorio might decide to call up a new midfielder.
Either way, fans can't overlook how Fabian has been able to bounce back in his last three games. Thanks in part to him playing a part in four of Frankfurt's last seven goals (2 goals, 2 assists), the once struggling side now sits in fifth place.
Whether Fabian gets a call-up or not remains to be seen. But at the very least, the once inconsistent midfielder is making strides to gain minutes and much-desired notoriety in the Bundesliga.
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