Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Drogba's in a Terrifying Mood Again as Chelsea Take Control

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Drogba's in a Terrifying Mood Again as Chelsea Take Control

Article excerpt

Byline: Simon Johnson

After struggling under Big Phil Scolari, the striker looked world class for new boss Hiddink to help the Blues claim a narrow advantage. By Simon Johnson


TEN months ago, Didier Drogba almost single-handedly fired Chelsea into the Champions League Final.

Judging by the striker's display against Juventus, he could do it again this season.

Chelsea fans have waited a long time to see the Ivory Coast international show the kind of form that proved too hot for Liverpool to handle in the semifinal last April.

Of course, it is no coincidence that manager Luiz Felipe Scolari's departure has been the catalyst for Drogba's transformation into a world beater once again for the Blues.

The striker didn't have the best of relationships with the Brazilian and was often left on the bench by the former coach.

Scolari would argue that Drogba didn't help matters with his attitude and he has, indeed, proved a complex and difficult individual ever since joining from Marseille in 2004.

However, while his antics may not win him any popularity contests, Drogba's presence on the pitch will always seem to give Chelsea a better chance of winning.

Italian teams are, by reputation, at their best when defending yet, in the first 45 minutes, the 30-year-old made the Juventus back four look like frightened novices.

He is still lacking in match fitness, as was demonstrated by a quieter second-half showing, but the striker is confident he will be back to his best in three weeks, which will be great timing should Chelsea successfully negotiate a tricky second leg in Turin.

It could have been made easier if Drogba had taken all three and not just one of the great chances that came his way in the opening 16 minutes.

He sent a header from Jose Bosingwa's cross just over the bar and also failed to connect properly from Frank Lampard's corner despite being unmarked six yards out.

Those misses sandwiched an emphatic finish in the 12th minute, when he was played in neatly by Salomon Kalou and he blasted the ball past goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon.

Chelsea's new manager Guus Hiddink celebrated in excited fashion on the sidelines, not that he was looking to take much credit for the player's improved performance afterwards.

He said: "There has not been one player that I have had to motivate.

"If I had to motivate a player, then I think I start fighting with him or neglecting him, generally speaking. I have not had this problem at all with Drogba.

"From the first day I was here, he enjoyed training and worked hard.

He worked hard against Aston Villa and again last night. So I don't have any problems with undermotivated players." What Hiddink does have a problem with is the lack of fitness not only with Drogba but the whole squad. …

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