Chelsea: Comfortable Win But Drogba's Return Didn't Live Up To The Hype
The game started as a bromance. It ended like a horror movie.
Asked what he gave Dider Drogba as a player, his ex-manager Jose Mourinho responded with: “I gave him my heart.” It was enough to make Roy Keane sick to his stomach. And that was before it was sealed with a pre-game kiss.
This was Jose Mourinho talking about his finest signing though. Drogba epitomises so much of what Mourinho and his teams represent: power, technique, grit and an unerring determination to win, sometimes at any cost. The Special One admitted as much, when ITV asked him: “Is Didier Drogba at his prime what you are missing now?”
Opposite Didier it was easy to forget Samuel Eto’o, another of the Champions League’s great forwards. And it was Eto’o who took the spotlight after just three minutes, showing his composure and instincts to become only the second African to score 30 Champions League goals (no prizes for guessing who the other is). Oscar and Hazard started the game brightly, eventually setting up Eto’o for the first before going on to torment the Turkish side for the rest of the first half. Hazard caused all sorts of problems down the left hand side against the weak link Eboue, finishing the half with 10 of 11 completed passes in final third and 6 of 8 successful take-ons.
On the other hand I have finally come to the end of my tether with Ramires, if only when he operates in a central midfield two. The Brazilian gave the ball away sloppily all game, including one or two passes that weren’t within ten yards of a blue shirt. He’s best operating as a functional winger, or as the box-to-box man in a midfield trio. He looks out of place in Mourinho’s system. His stats for the night back up what I saw on the screen: He completed 27 of 39 passes, but as the graphic shows, anything that threatened to penetrate centrally or enter the final third was incomplete.
I would love to know what Roberto Mancini tells his players to do on set-pieces. Honestly, it was comical at times last night. The second goal looked pre-ordained from the moment the camera zoomed out and showed Galatasaray camped on the six-yard box in a zone set-up, with only Branislav Ivanovic marked tightly by Didier Drogba. The other two big threats, centre-backs Gary Cahill and John Terry were allowed to run into that area unimpeded. Inevitably Terry got there and powered a header towards goal. Gary Cahill had the simplest of finishes with the rebound. Game over.
Chelsea maintained their focus for the second half and were allowed to take their foot off the pedal. Galatasaray offered very little, with all due respect, and the game ended up being another last-16 disappointment. Cue a spate of unnecessary op-eds declaring that the round is defunct and should be replaced with a penalty shoot-out round-robin, before skipping to the fun part, the quarter-finals.
Drogba’s performance on the night was a massive disappointment for me in the end. It’s a shame to see such an idol play so poorly, so far away from the level Chelsea fans are used to seeing from him. His only highlight worthy moment was a comedy clip where he managed to pick out his own banner with a wayward free-kick, a bittersweet moment of deep irony.
It was the sort of performance from Drogba which made me want to dig out an old copy of FIFA and play the night away, just as I did when I realised that Andriy Schevchenko was never going to be the player at Chelsea that I so dearly wanted him to be. It was sad but it could have been worse, he could have come back to really break my heart, so for that I forgive him.
Follow Scott on Twitter, @Scarey102