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Chelsea 1 – O Juventus: Drogba, When Briefly Upright

Posted By Brian Phillips On February 25, 2009 @ 5:19 pm In Uncategorized | 3 Comments

I’m doing this in fragments, because that match was too disjointed to deserve its own narrative.

  • This essentially does nothing to sort out the mystery of Inter’s woefulness in European competition. Juventus lost, but they looked roughly one million times sharper against a top English club than the team that currently leads them by nine points at the top of the Serie A table. And they were playing on the road, and while it’s true that Nemanja Vidić didn’t play in either match, in this match nobody wanted him to.
  • I’m not wading into the “can Drogba and Anelka play in the same side” debate, because people get weirdly serious about it, like there’s one right answer that applies to all scenarios in all possible worlds. What I will say is that I don’t think they can play together when one of them is slotted in as a winger, the other one has to rotate toward the flank when the first one cuts inside, and they have to take turns crossing to each other in the box. For the record, this is because neither of them can cross. They’re both much better (see: Anelka’s lancing strike from 30 yards out in the 80th minute, which missed by this much) when they can blind themselves to everything but the goal.
  • This is why it confuses me to see Drogba dropping back into the other side’s six-yard box.
  • At the moment, Salomon Kalou is better than both of them anyway. He plays like joy if joy were out to kill you.
  • I’ve barely watched Juventus this year, so I don’t know if their midfield always struggles that much to keep possession. Tiago had a couple of threatening passes—there was that knifing ball to Del Piero in the 22nd minute that forced a diving save from Čech—but Sissoko seemed to spend the entire game kicking the ball into Chelsea players’ knees. In general, somewhat oddly for an Italian team, they looked better the more width they had in the formation and the more they sent the ball down the wings. Okay, one wing: Camoranesi was terrible, but Nedved played well, particularly as he was allowed to use his hands without consequences.
  • Olof Mellberg’s beard has grown a face! Whereas Michael Mancienne’s braids are still working on it.
  • Was it just me, or was Lampard out-Lamparded by multiple Juventus players? Nedved’s blast at the end of the game, the screamer Camoranesi sent into Ashley Cole in the 24th minute, and a series of other Juve moments looked 100% pure Lampard. Is astral projection allowed within Stamford Bridge, or does Roman have some kind of rule about it?
  • The goal. On ESPN, Tommy Smyth wanted to give most of the credit to Ballack for winning the ball back from Chiellini after Lampard’s (admittedly Lampard-like) free kick. Fine. But Kalou’s gentle, gentle through ball for Drogba in the box was the best part of a relatively glorious sequence of play from Chelsea. Drogba’s strike to beat Buffon was the sort of strike I would call clinical if I understood what was supposed to be happening in that clinic.
  • It seems unfair that of the two goalkeepers—probably the top two in the world over the last few years—Petr Čech is one whose skills are noticeably off their peak, and yet it was Buffon who conceded the goal. Funny old game, stake in the heart, etc.
  • I thought the refereeing was terrible in that sort of nagging way in which there are no really huge decisions to complain about and yet small errors seem to proliferate all over the park. It generally favored Juventus, I think, though not systematically or exclusively. That said, Drogba was diving A LOT.

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