Tag Archives: Didier Drogba

He that shalt not be named


While the long procession of injuries were being marched across our internet browsers, there was always one name every football fan hoped would manage to avoid such a calamity. Was it Messi? Was it Ronaldo? Torres? Undoubtedly, it was Didier Drogba. So when the news came, it left many football pundits wondering…

This is Drogba’s World Cup. Despite Soccernet and Fox Sports trying to force the dazzling Lionel Messi into our eyes and down our throats, Drogba is the real face of the tournament. As he said a while back, he wasn’t just playing for the Coast, but rather all of Africa. Kolo Toure’s revelation, “for him, he said, the World Cup is finished”, strikes a terrible blow for African football at a time when they are the centre of attention. The Group of Death with no Drogba looks a little timid and the match up between the best of Africa and the best of South America will be an insipid, rather than inspiring, affair.

But hold on… This is the Chelsea front man who is renowned for diving. The man who has broken the hearts of many a Liverpudlian. A man who hasn’t exactly endeared himself to the footballing fraternity. At the same time, he was plastered across the front cover of TIME Magazine’s People of the Year issue and has been credited with ending a civil war in his home country. The archetypal polarising figure.

“There’s a Bible passage I got memorized,” Drogba says. When the ball is whipped in from the by line by Malouda, with Andy Gray poised for a emblematic “Drooooogggbaaaa”, the centre man silences the ball with a lullaby. “Ezekiel 25:17. The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the iniquities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of the darkness. For he is truly –” Before he’s finished he’s hit it with a ruthless anger. Near post. Roof of the net. Good night and good luck.

Quit your bickering, there’s no doubt about it, Drogba is the best in the world. Quicker than Fabiano (is he even in the running?), better in the air than Rooney and Forlan. He’s craftier than Higuain. Unlike Torres, his ligaments aren’t made of bread sticks. Add to this his free kicks, and he’s almost the complete package. 2 – 0. The cameras burst in a sea of flashes. He’s muttering, “and you will know I am the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon you.” (it’s really true he says it…or at least according to my magazine)

But for all Didier’s skilful mastery, he frustrates as much as he amazes. John Terry’s legacy wouldn’t have the fat red cross he earned in Moscow if it wasn’t for Drogba’s petulant “face slap”. Unlike fellow peace keeper Nelson Mandela, the cheeky Ivorian screamed “It’s a f$%#ing disgrace” across international airways. (It’s laughable to even picture Mandela and Drogba in the same sentence)

This is surely the last chance for Drogba to win the popular vote. He’s done just about everything off the pitch, but can’t seem to stay out of trouble between the white lines. 2010 was his stage and his chance to prove a world of football cynics wrong. Prove them wrong about African football too. This is Drogba’s World Cup and if he doesn’t feature, Marcus Tulio Tanaka, who’s ridiculous high boot broke the striker’s arm, will be a marked man. For the man they call “God”, the people of Africa will pray for. May the big man get his chance.

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“Hi ahh FIFA God? I’ve just got 10 questions…”


1. Will there be any innovation?

The World Cup used to the ultimate tactical breeding ground for tactical and the driving force behind football development. Brazil premiered the 4-2-4 at the 1958 World Cup and the world quickly followed suit, only for Alf Ramsey to move things on again eight years later when his Wingless Wonders gave birth to the modern 4-4-2. Holland’s 1-3-3-3 and attendant tactical discipline made a huge impression, both sporting and culturally, in 1974, but in recent years innovation has given way to conformism. Here’s to hoping…

2. Can Spain get the balance right?

As they showed off for the umpteenth occasion in their 6-0 mauling of Poland on Tuesday night, Spain look as dominant a side as ever pitched up at the sport’s showpiece event. The names of their star players roll off the tongue with beguiling ease, but del Bosque has a difficult decision to make about the attacking third. A 4-1-3-2 would allow him to deploy David Villa and fit-again Fernando Torres in attack, but leaves an undermanned defense. A 4-2-3-1 would see Sergio Busquets starting and, remarkably, Torres (largely held in the top 3 world strikers) on the outer. Can Villa and Torres fit into the same forward pairing? Or are they the new Lampard/Gerrard unworkable.

3. Will Dunga’s vision for Brazil be vindicated?

This World Cup has been a long time coming for Brazil. Dunga espoused his tactical vision for the side way back in July 2006 and to date he has enjoyed great success, winning the 2007 Copa América, the 2009 Confederations Cup and qualifying for the World Cup with ease. There’s nothing secret about the system: 2 holding midfielders as guards for the back four, true Brazilian forward minded full backs, Ramires or Elano in the midfield “shuttler” role on the right side, Kaka the creative genius in the central area, with Robinho on the right in a similar role that Bellamy seemed to perform better at Man City. Brazil were favourites last time, so will they live up to the hype in 2010?

4. Will Maradona go with three at the back?

Win, lose or draw, Diego Maradona won’t be far away from the headlines throughout the month. After a tumultuous qualifying campaign, it still doesn’t seem Diego’s settled on a particular formation. The Pumas emphatic 1-0 win over Germany in March (they were clearly the better unit), it looked as though Maradona had finally found a working set up. After declaring “this is the team to win the World Cup” he seems to have rescinded from his remarks and many have speculated that he’ll open with a narrow back 3. Gutierrez will support the defense as a right wing back, allowing the enigmatic Tevez to start alongside Messi and Higuain in arguably the most explosive trio in the World Cup.

5. Can Capello get the best out of Rooney?

Few teams in the competition seem to rely on one player as much as England rely on Wayne Rooney. Throughout qualification, it seemed that Capello had found the formula to extract the rampant best out of his star, but recent disciplinary troubles have emerged and could derail the striker’s and all of England’s hopes. That formula includes the unheralded Emile Heskey. Heskey has been derided and abused for the majority of the past 2 years. But the majority of his criticism has come from uneducated football spectators. Most of the critics acknowledge that Heskey’s role isn’t to score himself, but rather he plays the selfless and industrious role in order to make space for the dangerous Rooney and Stevey Gerrard. To prove my point, this is an albeit diplomatic Rooney,“It’s actually mainly at club level I’ve been [playing more] in front of goal; with England I’ve been playing off Heskey, in the hole, and then when we haven’t got the ball, either me or Steven Gerrard go out and defend for the team on the left,” Rooney explains in this month’s edition of FourFourTwo. Crouch and Defoe have been underwhelming of late and a successful forward pairing will be more crucial than a successful Wayne Rooney.

6. Which African team will stir up some continental frenzy?

The finals are begging for an outstanding African side to upset some of the more fancied outfits. It was always going to be the Ivorians, lead by the flamboyant Drogba, but an atrocious grouping (the number 1 and 3 ranked sides in the same group) coupled with injury to their main weapon has seen optimism abate. Cameroon have shocked the world once before, but don’t seem to have the talent to do it all over again. Ghana are an inferior side without Essien and will struggle in a physical group. Could it be South Africa? The home side has never failed to reach the knockouts, and the second lowest ranked side will need to outperform their wildest ambitions to qualify. They haven’t lost in 12 matches now, and have been in camp for around 3 months – anything passed the group stages could unite a nation with a chequered past.

7. How will Chile’s 3-3-1-3 formation fare?

It shouldn’t be forgotten that Chile finished 2nd in qualifying, scoring 32 goals in just 18 matches (just one less than Brazil). Marcelo Bielsa’s youthful Chile side are somewhat of a revelation and Bielsa’s unorthodox set up will be a refreshing sight. Dominant flanks are the key component – almost daring the opposition to go through the centre – with Udinese livewire Alexis Sanchez and former Liverpool man Mark Gonzalez playing wide alongside the talismanic Suazo up front. The magnificent Matias Fernandez looks a little lonely in the centre circle. Last time Bielsa experimented, in 2002 with Argentina, it was utter failure.

8. Anything worth calling Asia about?

The Aussies are token Asians and are undoubtedly the best chance from the region. But they’ve lucked out in the draw and will need to overcome 3 quality opponents to replicate their success in 2006. Japan looks to be hitting awful form of late, and North Korea will offer more interest off the field. Could it be the South Koreans to shock the globe again? They are a typically organised and efficient Eastern team and are superior to their unflattering FIFA ranking. Recent wins in friendlies have given them a little momentum.

9. Will the US finally prove themselves as superpowers in football?

The Americans are never short of confidence, and 2010 is no different. Their side doesn’t look to have the superstars required, but a nation of this size will be a tough challenge for any opponent. A semi final appearance could be the injection the domestic scene has been hankering out for years…

10. What will South Africa 2010 be remembered for?

Will it be a controversial penalty? A moment of idiocy by a player? An outstanding solo performance? The coming of age for a superstar? The birth of African football? A new footballing giant? Maradona’s nude run?

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