Barcelona looked tired, and John Terry once again showed his amoral side, but the key to the Champions League semifinal Tuesday was Didier Drogba's playing the entire field.
Once Chelsea was down a player because of Terry's stupid unprovoked foul from behimd, Drogba played his own form of sweeper, roving wherever he was needed against the crisp Barcelona passes.
Chelsea's defense has been vastly upgraded under interim coach Roberto DiMatteo's version of the old Italian defense, the catenaccio (chain or bolt.) But it took an inspired star to make it work while a man down.
The ball would be slotted into a bit of open space, and Drogba, 34, would appear from nowhere. One Barca shot went wide by a few inches when Drogba materialized and made the shooter alter his rhythm.
He was like Derek Jeter, showing up in odd places to make a play, or giving confidence by standing on second base and clapping his hands after hitting a double. He raised the entire team after the Chelsea captain, Terry, proved, once again, that he is unfit for leadership, or trust.
Eventually, Drogba had to leave because of discomfort high in one leg. Fernando Torres came in and supplied the crushing goal as Chelsea moved on the final on May 19 in Munich. My guess is that Drogba will be there. After Tuesday, he should be wearing the captain's armband.
"The day after my 80th birthday, which overflowed with good wishes, surprises and Covid-safe celebrations, I awoke feeling fulfilled and thinking that whatever happens going forward, I’m OK with it. My life has been rewarding, my bucket list is empty, my family is thriving, and if everything ends tomorrow, so be it.
"Not that I expect to do anything to hasten my demise. I will continue to exercise regularly, eat healthfully and strive to minimize stress. But I’m also now taking stock of the many common hallmarks of aging and deciding what I need to reconsider."
--Jane E. Brody, my pal in the NYT newsroom, oh, a few years back, in the Personal Health column, Sept. 13, 2021.
"People have said to me, ‘You’re fully vaccinated. Why are you being so careful?’” said Dr. Robert M. Wachter, professor and chair of the department of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. “I’m still in the camp of I don’t want to get Covid. I don’t want to get a breakthrough infection.”
---Tara Parker-Pope, The New York Times, Aug. 16, 2021.