NOT THE TEAM THEY ONCE WERE?
Who knew that Chelsea, Britain's brave Big Cup survivors, had such an accomplished mummer in their ranks as Didier Drogba, whose hysterical mime repertoire - man trapped in a box and lassoing a recalcitrant bison, quaking in the boots like a cross between Lionel Blair and Bruno - has upset tonight's quarter-final opponents Benfica. When the draw was made, little did Drogba know that each of his exaggerated chicken-hearted tremors was captured by Chelsea's in-house TV channel and that Benfica would interpret them as a distinct display of disrespect?
"He might just have been joking, we don't know," said the Benfica coach, Jorge Jesus. "But Portuguese clubs have eliminated both Manchester United and Manchester City, the top two teams in the Premier League, so that should act as an indication of the strengths of Portuguese football. Any response to Didier Drogba we'll give out on the field."
Meanwhile Benfica captain, Luisao, is worried that the presence of David Luiz and another former Benfica player, Ramires, in Chelsea's line-up has given the visitors an advantage. "I am convinced they have explained secrets of our team to their companions," he said. "But that will not be sufficient to damage our chances of getting to the semi-finals." He also echoed the assessment by Frank Lampard, the Lionel Bart of the Bridge, that Fings Ain't Wot They Used T'be. "Chelsea have improved in the last few weeks, but they are not the strong team they once were," he chirped. "I see they have just failed to win at home against Tottenham."
Answering Lampard's criticism, Chelsea caretaker manager, Roberto Di Matteo, offered some vanilla platitudes that have somehow been spun into a scorching defence of his side's elite status and a put-down for the midfield Emperor's New Clothes debunker. "We have quality in this team and many good players," he said. "It's a very fine line between success and failure. This team has all the ability to play a very good game and show the qualities these players have." Whether he'll be trotting those lines out again next season seems unlikely, whoever ends up assisting England's Brave John Terry in managing Chelsea. All Drogba has to do is hold his nose and mime pulling a lavatory chain to predict how that one might work out.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
"Am I as strong as him? It's not up to me to say ... I don't have anything to prove" - Yes, modest Zlatan Ibrahimovic is comparing himself to Leo Messi.
"If football is to turn to philosophy (yesterday's still want more), surely it'd be less suited to existentialism and more to absurdism? On which point, if a Fiver letter is published in an empty forest and no one is around to read it, does it still fall flat?" - Dennis Patrickson.
"Re: Ally McCoist (yesterday's Fiver letters). I can't be the only ageing fan of the Glorious Glasgow Rangers reminded of the days when, in the great man's honour, "feeling a bit Ally" was rhyming slang used by Scottish ladies who were feeling a bit, shall we say, frisky (although as 1,057 pendants might say: you do have to treat the "Mc" as silent for it to scan properly)" - Ryan Dunne.
"A very cunning ruse by the Pope's O'Rangers to declare "we are the people". Now that the income tax threshold has gone up to £9,200 they only need to be 1,631 people to write off their £15m tax bill" - Iain Christie.
BITS AND BOBS
A student has been jailed for posting r@cist comments on Twitter about Fabrice Muamba's cardiac arrest. 21-year-old Liam Stacey has been sentenced to 56 days in prison after admitting incitement to r@cial hatred.
Arsenal target Mario Gotze has rejected Arsene Wenger's amorous advances by extending his contract with Borussia Dortmund until 2016. "Everyone knows how happy I am here," he bleated.
USA! USA!! USA!!! won't be gracing the Ricoh Arena this summer after being dumped out of Olympic qualifying by El Salvador.
And FA suits have dropped their biggest hint yet that everybody's favourite cockney will get the England job after revealing they plan to appoint a technical director, presumably to counteract 'Ave a go 'Arry's lack of tactical nous.
STILL WANT MORE?
Brendan Rodgers stars as Pep Guardiola and a ballet dancer in this week's Gallery.
Jonathan Wilson dons his anorak and answers The Question: how has Martin O'Neill improved Sunderland? ...
... before hopping over to Cyprus to appeal to Apoel coach Ivan Jovanovic about why money isn't that important in football.
Meanwhile Richard Williams believes the popularity of the #Pray4Muamba message has been surprising and uplifting.
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