Branislav Ivanovic: Mourinho's favourite Serbian warrior
Branislav Ivanovic has been a stand-out performer for the past two seasons at Stamford Bridge
When former Chelsea boss Avram Grant bought a burly Serb named Branislav Ivanovic to Stamford Bridge, not many thought highly in terms of the significance of his £9m move away from Lokomotiv Moscow.
Chelsea were made to work hard to secure the signature of the much coveted then 23-year-old, with Manchester United reportedly interested in prising him to Old Trafford.
In the initial stages, Ivanovic found it hard to fit into life at Chelsea as a result of the already established defenders who occupied the places for Grant's side, with the new signing making his debut a staggering eight months after he had joined the big-spenders.
However, as the years have gone by, Chelsea's no.2 has excelled in his role as playing as a right-back or centre-back. The Stamford Bridge faithful have grown accustomed to his physical approach to opposition attacks, becoming one of the first names on the teamsheet when the Blues are faced with stellar opposition.
At times Ivanovic can pose a frustrating figure, most notably producing a nightmare performance against Swansea in the Capital One cup during last season, in which he gifted the Welsh side two goals courtesy of some poor awareness in his own defensive third.
Despite those performances, the Serbian captain has also produced those whole-hearted, relentless presentations of the defending, leadership and attacking prowess, which have been associated with this Chelsea team.
Ivanovic has quickly become the man for the big occasions - in Roberto Di Matteo's magical Champions League winning run, Ivanovic bagged the crucial extra-time winning goal that blasted the west London club ahead of Italian side Napoli into the competition's quarter-finals, recovering from a 3-1 deficit from the first leg in Naples.
Showings like the one against Napoli aren't the only eye-catching pieces of excellence he has been able to muster up in his time as a Blue.
Ivanovic was part of the wall that shut out Barcelona, with an inspired performance against the likes of Lionel Messi and co, consequently placing Chelsea in the final of the competition.
He eventually missed the final through suspension, but his heroics during that run proved pivotal in Di Matteo's side's triumph.
Ivanovic has started this season strongly, playing as a right-back under the returning Blues boss, Jose Mourinho. The Portuguese has been known for implementing water-tight defences wherever he works, and with Spaniard Cesar Azpilicueta hot on Ivanovic's heels for the spot on the right, it will seem fruitful that he has the ability to revert back into the centre, and still maintain a high level of solidarity.
Mourinho will work hard in order to eradicate the mistakes in his game which were on show against Swansea as previously mentioned, if the ‘Special One’ can succeed in this, we can expect this talented, experienced defender to join the absolute elite of European defenders.
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