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.
has filed an interview with, of all people, me.
It's on his blog. (Just past photo of rat!) My thanks for his interest. GV
David Vecsey's sweet tale of distant love before the Web, now NYT Podcast, narrated by Griffin Dunne. Please see: