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.
“They may hate the cultural context they now find themselves teaching in, but they love their work. The Achilles’ heel of schoolteachers, one all too easily exploited by politicians, is that they love their students.”
(One of the best reads in the NYT these days is Margaret Renkl, in Nashville. In her latest post, Renkl describes the dedicated core of “born teachers” – the majority, she submits.)
(From Madeleine Albright in one of her final interviews in February):
“Putin is small and pale,” I wrote, “so cold as to be almost reptilian.” He claimed to understand why the Berlin Wall had to fall but had not expected the whole Soviet Union to collapse. “Putin is embarrassed by what happened to his country and determined to restore its greatness.” – Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, recalling her first meeting with the relatively unknown Vladimir Putin in 2000. – The New York Times, Feb. 23, 2022.