How To Make An Exit: Drogba Style

May 30, 2012

Last Week Didier Drogba led Chelsea to its first European Championship in the 107 year history of the club.  Chelsea won in the most dramatic fashion possible with a late goal by Drogba forcing overtime which led to a tense penalty shootout.  A shootout that Drogba clinched with a typically powerful finish.  I am a little biased as I am a huge Chelsea and Drogba fan, (if you want to know why then check out this post) but this was one of the most exciting sporting events I have ever watched.  Chelsea has had a very mediocre season and finished sixth in the Premier League.  For those of you not civilized enough to follow soccer that means that the sixth best team in England this season are now the champions of Europe.  Chelsea were heavy underdogs against a Bayern Munich team that was playing at home.

(Hosting the Champions League final is an honor awarded to cities years in advance much like the Super Bowl is in the United States.  A fair comparison would be the Cowboys making it to the Super Bowl when it is held in Jerryworld.  Chelsea fans were given a fair allotment of tickets but as you can imagine the vast majority of the stadium was wearing Bayern red and white colors.)

 

Since Chelsea were the big underdogs, and in fairness, a much less talented team they played a very defensive game with only one striker, and few other attacking minded players.  This places an enormous burden on the one striker because he will often be attempting to win and hold the ball against three or four defenders.  Fortunately for Chelsea their lone striker was Drogba.  He is bigger, stronger, and faster than almost anyone else on the field.  Add this physical dominance with incredible skill and you have something resembling Dwight Howard if he had an amazing finesse post game.  Chelsea were so defensive that their most common pass over the final three games of the Champions League was from Petr Cech, their goalie, to Drogba.  And it worked.  Because of Drogba, Chelsea was able to complete bypass the midfield area where they were much less talented and play straight between their two best players.

Despite this Bayern scored a late goal to go ahead 1-0 with about six minutes left.  This appeared to be the end of the game but Chelsea won a corner kick with two minutes remaining at which point Drogba did this.

If you watch Chelsea at all then this is very familiar to you.  Drogba takes some flack for occasional lack of effort but when engaged he makes plays like that.  I call them Drogba things, and quite frankly only Drogba can do them.  He is so powerful that nearly every game he scores a goal or creates a chance due to sheer strength and athleticism.  Opposing defenders, and anyone foolish enough to challenge me in FIFA 2012, see goals like that in their nightmares because they happen with a frequency and inevitability that is infuriating.  Bayern Munich earned 20 corner kicks throughout a game in which they appeared to have dominated.  Chelsea earned one.  And yet Chelsea, thanks to Drogba was the only team to score on a corner during the game.

This sort of performance in a big game would make Drogba a legend under any circumstances, but his situation at Chelsea makes it even more remarkable.  It was very clear going into this game that it would be Drogba’s last for Chelsea.  Last winter they signed Spanish striker Fernando Torres from Liverpool for 50 million pounds in the hopes that he and Drogba would form an unstoppable team.  Unfortunately it became immediately apparent that the two strikers could not play together effectively.  Due to the economic realities of the situation this meant that Drogba’s time at Chelsea was limited.

Torres however has been an unmitigated disaster and Chelsea has turned to Drogba again and again during this last year of his contract despite making it clear that he would not be returning to the team next year.  Many people, including yours truly, would be pissed at being replaced by a pansy Spaniard with a boy band haircut who couldn’t score.  Not Drogba, he has responded to this lame duck status admirably and had one of the better seasons of his career.

This odd situation became even more emotional during the penalty shootout when Drogba came up as Chelsea’s fifth penalty take with a chance to win the game.  If he scored then his last touch of the ball ever for Chelsea would be to win a historic and much coveted title.  Since Drogba is the man he finished the penalty with ease and began his ride off into the sunset while still on the field.  The British announcers put it better than I ever could so I will let them take it away.

 

Drogba’s future is uncertain.  He has drawn interest from some of the biggest clubs in Europe, most notably Real Madrid, but the most likely scenario is that he goes out to pasture for some Chinese club where he will reportedly make $250,000 per week tax free.  As much as I would like to be see Drogba do Drogba things for a real team next year I hope that he leaves European football on the highest possible note and goes off to China to count his money. Enjoy your semi-retirement Didier.  We will always have Munich.

 

Now I just have to figure out how to get Shanghai Shenua into FIFA 2013

 

 

 

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