As Chelsea scraped past an impressive Wigan side at Stamford Bridge to clinch the all-important three points, it becomes more than necessary to give a special mention to the attacking prowess of a certain Mr. Branislav Ivanovic. The Serbian defender showed his worth within two minutes, as he scored the opening goal to put a glimmer of polish on the tainted brass performance of the hosts and then cleared a sure-shot goal off the line to keep his side in the lead. An imposing physical presence at the back, the kind many teams in Europe and in England crave for, comes by default for the south-west London side when jersey number two features in the playing eleven.

ai???Baneai??i??, as Ivanovic is fondly known among his fans, joined the London club from Lokomotiv Moskow, during the January transfer window of 2008. The Serb did not make an immediate impact as he did not feature in any of the first team matches under interim manager Avram Grant, but was a cog in Scolariai??i??s plans for the 08/09 season.

Ivanovic during his Lokomotiv Moscow days.

Ivanovic finally made his debut against Portsmouth in a Carling Cup match, and since then he has never looked back. True Blues need no attesting to the fact that he is a magnificent defender; playing at right or sweeping in front of the goalkeeper, the Serb is as versatile as they come. But somehow, one facet of Ivanovic’s game remains unsung about – those surging overlaps on the right, crossing the ball week in-week out ai??i??if not from the right foot, the ability to cut inside and cross it from the left foot, the towering presence during a set piece execution and sometimes providing those delicious through balls. Branislav has certainly been there, done thatAi??- having won the Premier League, The FA Cup and the FA community shield with the Pensioners.

Letai??i??s pick out some inspiring moments out of Ivanovicai??i??s career at Chelsea, moments that have cemented his place in the hearts of all the Chelsea fans around the world.

The Brace At Anfield

With 39 minutes on the clock, Florent Malouda floated the ball in from a corner. Ivanovic lost his marker, Xabi Alonso, and reached the ball before Martin Skrtel did, to restore parity for the Blues in the away quarterfinal fixture of the 08/09 edition of the Champions league. He repeated the same task after the break, but this time the corner was fed in by Lampard, as the Serb once again climbed on top of the Liverpool defense to score past a hapless Reina. The 3-1 victory eventually proved pivotal for the Blues as even an impressive fight back by the Reds at the Stamford Bridge went in vain and Chelsea unexpectedly progressed to the semi finals, courtesy those two Ivanovic strikes at Anfield.

An Assist At San Siro

Obi Mikel placed an ordinary pass to Ivanovic on the right, as Chelsea trailed Inter Milan by a Diego Milito goal in the first leg of the round of sixteen encounter at San Siro. Ivanovic took off from behind the centre of the pitch and ran thirty yards, dodging defenders to set up Solomon Kalou, who scored to make it 1-1. Although Chelsea lost that match and the fixture, that assist by Ivanovic was worth a lot, redefining him as an attacking right back. Ivanovic was more than tidy and effective at the back that season for Chelsea, which duly got him voted into the 09/10 PFA team of the year.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W7C2os5vQ3o&w=560&h=315]

 

Exceptional Cross at Ewood Park

With Chelsea experiencing turbulence in their season under Andre Villas-Boas, coming off a humiliating 3-5 loss at home to Arsenal and an away draw against Genk, they had a daunting task of travelling to one of the most difficult places in English top flight football- Ewood Park. As Chelsea struggled to get past a gritty and disciplined Blackburn side, Ivanovic cut inside and provided a gem of a cross from the outside of his right foot, to serve the ball on a platter for Frank Lampard, who fittingly obliged by putting the ball in the back of the net in the fifty first minute. Chelsea clinched all three points, and as Chelsea now struggle to get into top four, every Chelsea fan now knows, how crucial that cross was!

Being At The Right Place

Chelsea scripted one of the greatest comebacks in the Champions League history when they came from behind, trailing by a two goal deficit against Napoli in this yearai??i??s Championai??i??s League round of 16 match. Many pundits had written off the south-west London side after an insipid performance in Naples, but the Blues turned the tie on its head, when Ivanovic fired in a shot from inside the twelve yard area, off a beautiful low cross from Drogba in the extra time, to make it 4-1 on the night and 5-3 on aggregate. The right back stayed up and emphatically sealed the game, with a resounding finish off the Drogba cross. Result- Chelsea march into the quarter finals, thanks primarily again to Ivanovic.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KvQtmb8Kba4&w=560&h=315]

 

Crucial Goals At Villa Park

Both the Manchester teams are certainly heating up the title race this season, but it wonai??i??t be unfair to state that the battle for the fourth-spot finish among the London clubs has stolen a bit of limelight off the title race. With Newcastle now adding their flavor to the mix, each match becomes an essential do-or-die match for Chelsea. With pride at stake, along with the monetary perks associated with Europeai??i??s elite league, a slip-up can be a heavy price to pay. Away at Villa Park, Ivanovic doubled Chelseaai??i??s money by getting at the end of a Juan Mata corner, but more crucially scored the third goal to restore the lead after the Villians had drafted a spirited fight back. Once again, Ivanovic to the rescue!

Ivanovic proved that he is as important upfront for the club, as he is defending at the back. The Polar star tends to outshine all the other stars in the constellation. Chelsea, under the Roman era, have signed many stars to don their famous blue kit. Playing among these stars, are players whose contribution might get ignored in the larger picture. It is to Ivanovic’s credit that he’s managed to carve his own space in a team of Stamford Bridge favorites and legends.

With some tough fixtures lined up in for the Blues, Ivanovic is one of the few rock-solid personalities for Roberto to rely on. Chelsea is set to face Barcelona in the Champions League semi finals, and if the Blues manage to find answers to the relentless questions Lionel Messi is likely to pose, you can bet a certain Serbian will have something to do with it.

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6 Responses to “Branislav Ivanovic: Chelsea’s Unsung Hero Too Important To Be Left Out”

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  1. Anirbana says:

    The guy deserves an article.I still remember that I asked for an ivanovic poster at Stamford bridge and they didn’t have one :-)
    Very nice article on my favourite player.

  2. Anirban says:

    The guy deserves an article.I still remember that I asked for an ivanovic poster at Stamford bridge and they didn’t have one :-)
    Very nice article on my favourite player.

  3. ipshit says:

    nice nice….well written..:D

  4. Shivam says:

    one of the smartest buys as it turns out in the last few years, which cant be said about most of the signings chelsea have made.

  5. dikshith says:

    iva you deserve this article ….good player with great dedication….come on chelsea…

  6. Varun Sehrawat says:

    he is among few Chelsea players who’ve given their 100% percent to CFC this season despite of all on-field and off-field activities at Stamford Bridge.
    Certainly Chelsea’s player of the season contender alongside Mata.