Thursday, October 19, 2006
Admittedly, he may now be past his best. Admittedly, he may still be feeling the effects of the injury which threatened to keep him out of the World Cup, at which he eventually put in a subdued performance. Admittedly, he would not be the first to find the transition to English football awkward initially.
But his display in this morning's exciting Chelsea v. Barcelona match, especially by comparison to that of his strike partner, the incisive Didier Drogba, was woefully mediocre. And it was not just a matter of one uncharacteristic miss; his touch, anticipation and finishing were just not there. The Shevchenko we know and love seemed to have gone AWOL.
He was regularly hassled off the ball by Carles Puyol, and seldom managed to link up with Drogba to any effect. When Michael Essien put one precise pass through to him in the first half, a decent touch would have given him a clear run on goal. But he let the ball slip out of his control, and the Barca defence pounced.
Then, there was his great chance to leave his mark on the game; early in the second half, Frank Lampard played a neat ball through to the Ukrainian, who had broken free of his marker. He was fifteen yards from goal, with time to pick his shot. Meat and drink for such a great striker.
Yet he compounded a poor first touch, which allowed Victor Valdes to narrow the angle for the shot, with a miserable slice wide of goal.
Chelsea does, in fact, have a history of signing players of class from Italy or Spain who subsequently struggle to adapt to England; such names as Didier Deschamps and Hernan Crespo come to mind. Even Claude Makelele produced some indifferent performances soon after arriving at Stamford Bridge in 2003, although he has gained in confidence and authority with every season since then (and against Barca this morning, incidentally, he was magnificent).
But Shevchenko has been outstanding in European competition for as long as I can remember; even back in 1999, when he was destroying the Real Madrid defence to take his Dinamo Kiev side to the Champions’ League semi-final.
What’s the story?
Look at Adriano, confidence is the most important thing to a striker.
I have no doubts however that Shevchenko's prescence is helping Drogba and by playing 2 strikers, giving Drogba an oppurtunity to run at defenders and roam around (like his career in France) helps Chelsea more than playing just one striker.
I'm entirely with you there. And in any case, as far as I'm concerned the sooner successful teams like Chelsea get away from this bloody one-striker fad, the better.
Chelsea this year are entirely built around Drogba up front and Ballack/Lampard in the middle. A far cry from the width they've used in the past few years, and of course with all the focus on Drogba it does Sheva no good.