The best defence in the Premier League has proved time and again that they are the reason Chelsea sit at the top of the EPL table.
Chelsea’s back-four is the key to Mourinho’s success this season. In fact, it has been Mourinho’s focal point wherever he has managed throughout Europe. Tight defences are a characteristic of Jose Mourinho teams. It’s their incredible organisation, resolve and outright ability as a unit that provides a magnificent platform for their annual assault on silverware, both home and abroad. Diego Costa, Cesc Fabregas and Eden Hazard are often in the limelight for their creativity, yet their majestic contributions so far would not have reaped such reward if the warriors at the back had not done their job so well.
Today we shed light on an often untouched aspect of this defensive team up. Yes, we are referring to the world-class Serb. He is Chelsea’s very own cult hero Branislav Ivanovic – The Defensive Hitman.
The name Branislav derives from the Slavic elements borni-ti (to protect) and slav-a (glory) and means “warrior”. No other word from all the dictionaries of all the languages could have suited Chelsea’s Mr. Dependable anymore.
Ivanovic started his career as a centre-back before moving to South West London from Lokomotiv Moscow in 2008. Ivanovic possesses all the defensive dexterity required for his present role on the right flank, whilst he is also on par with leading contemporary full-backs in terms of offensive play.
The powerful Serbian is the fourth best rated Chelsea player and fifth highest in the Premier League this season. Needless to say, the burly defender has gotten better with time, much like wine.
He has been serving Chelsea Football Club for almost seven years now after signing in 2008 for 12 million Euros. He did not play at all in his first few months as reports suggested he wasn’t signed with manager Avram Grant’s consent. However, in 2009 Carlo Ancelotti gambled on Ivanovic as his first choice right-back.
Although it was done to rest some other important players of the back line, the gamble paid off well. He has come a long way since then and today under Jose Mourinho he is among the first names on the team-sheet. He clocked more minutes last season than any other Chelsea player. Ivanovic is more than capable of playing in the centre of defence because of his strength, physicality and versatility.
What Ivanovic can offer:
He may not be equipped with the pace of his teammate Cesar Azpilicueta but what the Serbian Monster brings to the table is an immense work rate, tenacity, aerial prowess and the ability to get those neat tackles when the game urges for a defensive hero. Ivanovic’s recent form serves to emphasize how indispensable he has become, helping Chelsea keep clean sheets as well as chipping in with crucial attacking flourishes.
His offensive duties should have ensured that he commits a defensive error in one match or the other. However, the ground reality is an anti-thesis of the said proposition. As soon as his job at far end of the goal is done, he takes charge of his defensive flank. In ways more than one, Ivanovic defines the modern wing back. The 6’1″ defender is ensuring his supreme fitness levels are not being wasted as he makes each of his appearances count, at both ends of the pitch, that is.
Ivanovic has never failed the fans, consistently impressing with the comprehensive performances that are now taken for granted.
His 93rd-minute winner against S.L. Benfica to bring home the Europa League; his cracking half-volley from outside the box in the previous season against Manchester City and solidity across two legs against Barcelona during Chelsea’s ascension to the Champions League in 2012 warrant truly folkloric status.
“I am settled here and I feel very good, very proud, to be part of Chelsea Football Club, and to be part of this team. I play with great players, and we always have the same motivation, which is to win trophies – that is what we want to achieve.”
– Ivanovic speaking to the Chelsea Magazine
At the age of 30 Branislav Ivanovic has a lot of hungers left in him. Chelsea’s No. 2 is all set to play a pivotal role in both rallying the troops and protecting the Chelsea goal. Given the right-back’s impeccable credentials over seven years at Stamford Bridge, Mourinho can rest assured that he will be more than up to the task for the upcoming games. Ivanovic just lacks individual recognition to go alongside his winning pedigree and is a player the manager and the team can depend upon.
Edited By: Ojas Tripathi