Last night, in the Estadio Vincente Calderón, Didier Drogba further established his place as one of the world’s top strikers as he continued his breathtaking start to the season.
Drogba was the shining light in a relatively average Chelsea performance, bagging two goals in six second half minutes, only to have victory snatched from him as a late Sergio Aguero free kick denied Chelsea 3 points in a thrilling 2-2 draw in Madrid. Both of the Ivorian’s strikes were different, demonstrating why he is feared by defenders throughout Europe. For the first, Drogba rose above a crowd of players to calmly place a header past Atlético keeper Sergio Asenjo before then utilising his pace and close control to slot home a second six minutes later.
Rewind the clock to May 2008 in Moscow and you will realise just how much of a dramatic transformation Drogba has experienced. Chelsea fans were ready to see the back of the prolific hit-man after he saw red in a moment of madness with Nemanja Vidic. Many people were surprised to see him still sporting the Chelsea blue at the start of the following season and his attitude and performances did nothing to answer his critics as he failed to perform under the Brazilian World Cup winning manager Luiz Felipe Scolari. It was during Scolari’s tenure that Drogba showed many his fundamental flaw. He demonstrated that his temperament and mentality towards those around him can greatly affect his performances on the pitch, a factor that clearly disrupted the harmony in the Stamford Bridge dressing room and ultimately contributed to Scolari’s departure.
That Didier Drogba however, is a shadow of the one whom fans witnessed last night. Drogba has been reborn this season, scoring a phenomenal 12 goals in 13 games in all competitions, just two short of his tally for the whole of the last campaign. He hit the ground running in the opening day fixture against relegation candidates Hull City, giving a battling performance that would not have been seen last year, scoring a stoppage-time minute winner that may prove vital to Chelsea’s season.
Drogba has silenced the vast amount of critics, one of whom being Scolari, who believed that he was incompatible with strike partner Nicholas Anelka. The pair have been prolific in linking up this season with the goal against Liverpool springing to mind. The Ivorian powerhouse also proved his worth to the Blues’ European cause last night as he returned from a three match European ban to score a double. In recent years Europe has proved to be Chelsea’s Everest and in his current form Drogba will be determined to help the club finally capture the Champions League crown.
A disciplined and admired man Drogba may not be, a deadly striker reborn at the top of his game he most certainly is. If Drogba continues firing on all cylinders it will give Chelsea a great boost as they fight on four fronts in their quest for silverware.