Keeping the Drog on a leash: How Inter kept Didier Drogba arm's length

25 February 2010 01:22
Jose Mourinho insisted Didier Drogba would put their life-long friendship to one side in the San Siro and be willing to 'break his legs' for the Chelsea cause against Inter Milan.

Sportsmail's Simon Cass takes a look at just how influential the Chelsea goal machine was against the man who shaped his career after taking a £24million gamble to bring him to Stamford Bridge.

Unleashed: Didier Drogba reacts to a missed opportunity for Chelsea as they went down 2-1 at Inter Milan

AttitudeThe big striker was rolling around on the floor after 43 seconds but had every right after a crunching welcome to the game from Lucio which, luckily for Chelsea, Drogba managed to shake off.

His work rate certainly could not be questioned as he harried the opposition while in possession at every opportunity.

Always calling for the ball, he looked a threat in front of goal and was back in his box to clear danger when required. There were no histrionics to speak of but he could not resist berating the linesman after Walter Samuel appeared to catch Salomon Kalou.

AccuracyFree-kicks have become something of a speciality for Drogba and he was desperately unlucky not to put his side on level terms after 15 minutes with a pile driver that cracked off the underside of the bar after a touch by Julio Cesar. From open play, matters were more wayward.

He managed to fashion himself a chance by spinning Thiago Motta in the box but the resulting shot was off target and lacked power.

Better was to come as Drogba caught John Obi Mikel's pass flush on the volley but the spectacular effort fizzed just wide of the right-hand post.

MovementClearly in the mood to give his man marker, Samuel, a busy night by dragging Argentine defender all over Inter's half. Samuel did his best not to give his quarry any room for manoeuvre, rarely straying more than a couple of yards from the Chelsea powerhouse early on.

The tactic prompted Drogba to mix things up and stray from the central role, sometimes coming deep and also drifting into the channels to allow Nicolas Anelka and Kalou to come inside.

Limelight: Kalou (centre) is congratulated by Florent Malouda and Didier Drogba (right) and after equalising for Chelsea

PowerIt was certainly a titanic tussle between Drogba and Walter Samuel. They don't come much stronger than Drogba though and 'The Wall' Samuel's nickname was certainly left with a few chunks taken out of it.

The likes of Lucio and Thiago Motta were also given a taste of what it is like to bumped by a hunk of Ivory Coast granite but they all stood firm.

Italian defences haven't earned their reputation for nothing and credit is due for the way they shackled him.

ImpactThis was meant to be the night where Drogba gave his former boss an unwelcome reminder of his prodigious talent . too bad that Salomon Kalou stole his thunder with the crucial away goal.

That said, nothing should be taken away from the manner in which Drogba went about his business. The trouble was, nobody knows Drogba better than Mourinho and 'The Special One' ensured his defenders carried out his special instructions to the letter. 

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Source: Daily_Mail