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.
"Among the things that have long fascinated people about Jesus and explain his enduring appeal is his method of dialogue and teaching. "He asked a lot of questions and told a lot of stories in the form of parables. In fact, parables form about a third of Jesus’ recorded teachings. The Gospels were written decades after he died, so his questions and parables clearly left a deep impression on those who bore testimony to him....
"Some of Jesus’ questions were rhetorical; others were meant to challenge or even provoke. In some cases, Jesus used questions to parry attacks by religious authorities who set traps for him. In others, he used questions to enter more fully into the lives of others and to help people look at the state of their hearts. He asked people about their fears and their faith. Jesus used questions to free a woman caught in adultery from condemnation and to inquire whether people considered him to be the Messiah. He probed deeply into questions not many had asked before him, like “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”
---(Peter Wehner, long-time White House consultant and writer, in the NYT last week about Jesus Christ’s method of teaching by asking questions.)
"Would that I could mention all the illuminating details in this biography, for example, why Wells praised Black Americans so highly, saying, 'I took a mighty liking to these gentle, human, dark-skinned people,' and 'Whatever America has to show in heroic living today, I doubt if she can show anything finer than the quality of the resolve, the steadfast efforts hundreds of black and colored men are making today to live blamelessly, honorably and patiently, getting by themselves what scraps of refinement, beauty and learning they may, keeping their hold on a civilization they are grudged and denied.''
-- "How H.G. Wells Predicted the 20th Century," Charles Johnson, NYT Book Review, Nov. 19, 2021. ***".
...the monsters arrive."
"They come in a deafening, surging swarm, blasting from lawn to lawn and filling the air with the stench of gasoline and death. I would call them mechanical locusts, descending upon every patch of gold in the neighborhood the way the grasshoppers of old would arrive, in numbers so great they darkened the sky, to lay bare a cornfield in minutes. But that comparison is unfair to locusts.
"Grasshoppers belong here. Gasoline-powered leaf blowers are invaders, the most maddening of all the maddening, environment-destroying tools of the American lawn-care industry."
---The great Margaret Renkl, from Nashville, one of my favorite NYT bylines, Oct. 26, 2021.
(She describes our Long Island enclave to every decibel, every stink.)