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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Feb 26, 2009

Drogba hails Hiddink's impact

Striker Didier Drogba believes he is getting back to his best form thanks to the faith shown in him by the club's new interim coach Guus Hiddink.

Drogba, marginalised under previous boss Luiz Felipe Scolari, gave Chelsea a slender one-goal lead over Serie A giants Juventus when he pounced to convert a pass from Salomon Kalou in the 12th minute.

The Ivorian was dropped by sacked boss Scolari following Chelsea's 3-0 defeat by Manchester United in the Premier League in January.

But since Dutchman Hiddink agreed to take charge of the club on a temporary basis until the summer, Drogba has started the last two games in his preferred central striking role.

Now Drogba has set his sights on hitting the kind of form that once made him a feared European striker and paid tribute to Hiddink's confidence in him.

''You haven't lost your Drogba, he was just not playing,'' said Drogba.

''Being judged when you are playing is much easier, and to the contrary, when you are not playing you can be criticised.

''At the moment I feel good when I'm on the pitch and I make the most of those priceless moments. I'm not at my best because I think I need more games but I'm giving what I can at the moment.

''The truth is that the coach relies on me, which is a massive psychological boost for a striker.

''Physically, I'm not ready yet, but I need to play to get back in good form. There's no sense of revenge at all, that's my game and that's it.

''I've always been like that, I try to give my maximum and sometimes it's with success. You can see from the last two games that Hiddink is working a lot on the shape of the team, the organisation, you have to respect that because we know we will have chances to score goals.''

The Champions League last 16 tie is far from over, however.

Chelsea prevented Juve from getting an all important away goal but now the Blues have to go to Turin and produce a massive performance to reach the quarter-finals.

But Drogba believes his early strike against Juve could turn out to be the tie's crucial one.

''We have a good chance,'' added the Ivorian. ''We have to go there and play. I'm very excited to go there.

''It's been a long time since I scored, so to score that type of goal against that type of team was very important for me. If we qualify, I will say that goal was really important.

''We need to score there definitely. Maybe get a draw, or not to concede and score one. It's not going to be easy but I think we have the team to do it.

''It will also be an open game because they have to score. So I think we will have some chances. I think one goal will be enough. The good thing is we didn't concede so we have to do something with that.''

Midfielder Frank Lampard has hailed Drogba as one of Europe's top strikers in the competition.

The 30-year-old has now scored 25 goals in 50 Champions League games and Lampard said: ''This is the premier competition in the world and to score goals in it is not easy.

''Didier's proved over the last few seasons in particular that he is one of the best strikers in the world, if not the best, and he scores regularly.

''You can't expect him to be on form all the time but when he is on form, he's the full package. He showed that with his goal and his strength in general.

''One-nil is a good result but Juventus will be thinking they can change the game in Italy. We're happy now but we know there's still a lot of work to be done.

''If we can score a goal then it'll make it more difficult for them.''

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