The 35-year-old Didier Drogba has his best years in the rearview mirror, but returning to face Chelsea will provide the big stage that he thrives on. Chelsea fans and players have fond memories of Drogba, as last time he wore their uniform, he scored a winning penalty against Bayern Munich in the UEFA Champions League final in 2012.
Now, as a member of Galatasaray, Drogba will look to use his physicality to stop Chelsea's championship hopes in their tracks.
Drogba is a shell of his former self but still poses a scoring threat. And he'll be even more dangerous in this matchup as he'll feel at home both games. At least according to his Instagram account:
Feeling at home might be the comfort that Drogba needs to excel in both matches. Even Chelsea players are aiding in the homecoming. Midfielder Juan Mata Garcia went to Twitter to post a picture of Drogba during his Chelsea days:
The homecoming will play one small aspect to the actual game.
On the pitch, Drogba will have to play his physical style to ensure his success. One of the main areas where Drogba can excel, and where Chelsea has a tendency to allow goals, is in set pieces.
Callum Hamilton of SBNation.com wrote:
While Chelsea are comfortably the better side on paper, they have been prone to shock results this season, many of which have come from poor defending of set-pieces. It was a Drogba goal from a set-piece that won the West London club their Champions League trophy, but they'll be hoping history doesn't repeat itself this time around.
Hoping might be all they can do, as it's difficult to stop the physical forward. He's nearly unstoppable with his raw playmaking ability, physicality and aerial prowess.
The task of stopping Drogba will fall on former teammate John Terry, who knows first-hand the damage that Drogba can do.
Rik Sharma of Mail Online remembers a Champions League semi-final game between Chelsea and Tottenham. Sharma writes, "'Will you look at him,'" Terry said to Frank Lampard. "'We're not going to lose today.'"
The subject of Terry's remarks was a focused and energized Drogba.
A Drogba who scored 43 minutes into the ball game as remembered by Sharma:
He took it down well, with his back to goal, spun past William Gallas in a flash and bludgeoned the ball into the top corner from 20 yards. Chelsea went on to win 5-1. It was a magnificent goal, out of nothing. Drogba's ability to produce such moments and so often on the grandest occasions—gave Chelsea a self-belief...Terry knew, before the match, that a pumped-up Drogba would be able to win his side the game. And that means he knows the danger that lied ahead for Chelsea in the next round of the Champions League.
That danger has aged some, but not enough to be rendered insignificant.
Drogba will likely be more focused for both of these games than he has been all season. Combine that with the big stage that is the round of 16, and the recipe seems complete for Drogba to have a big series.
That's not mentioning Drogba's ability to create goal-scoring opportunities out of thin air.
Sprinkle in Chelsea's struggles against set-pieces and Drogba's excellence in them, and we've got the helpings for a monumental series for Drogba.
But that shouldn't surprise anybody.
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