Saturday, May 4, 2013

Branislav Ivanovic

  • Name: Branislav Ivanovic
  • Nationality: Serbian
  • Date of Birth: 22/02/1984
  • Height: 188 cm
  • Weight: 86.0 kg
  • Previous Clubs: Lokomotiv Moscow, OFK Belgrade
  • Position: Defender
Chelsea career
Branislav's start to life as a Chelsea player was slow. Signed in January 2008, it took him eight months to gain the necessary match fitness to play in the Carling Cup away at Portsmouth, before a lengthier spell in the heart of defence alongside John Terry after injury to Ricardo Carvalho and Alex.

Settled in London and his English steadily improving, Branislav began to show his true capabilities, while also earning cult status among Chelsea fans for his Champions League double at Anfield in April 2009.

Deployed at centre-half, Ivanovic went up for two corners and was almost ignored as the threat of Terry and Didier Drogba was deemed more dangerous by Liverpool, allowing him to ghost in and crash home two headers, all but booking our place in that season's semi-finals.

He kept his place for a run of games afterwards, marking Thierry Henry in the Camp Nou, and while at first struggling with the Frenchman's raw pace, he adapted and made a number of important blocks, interceptions and clearances.

If steady progress was the theme of Branislav's first full season as a Chelsea player when he played 26 times, in his second he made himself almost indispensable.

Beginning that 2009/10 campaign as understudy to Jose Bosingwa at right-back, the Serb came in when the Portuguese suffered a season-ending knee injury in October, and never looked back, contributing a series of assured displays with his strong defensive work and powerful attacking play.

His 41 appearances placed him as a frontrunner in voting for our Player of the Year award, and although he eventually lost out to Drogba, he joined the Ivorian in the PFA Premier League Team of the Season.

He bundled himself his solitary goal of the campaign at Bolton at the end of October as he kept seven consecutive clean sheets in all competitions, while beginning to offer an added threat in attack.

Away in the San Siro in the Champions League he was arguably at fault for Inter's first goal but compensated by charging his way through their midfield and defence to tee upon Salomon Kalou for the equaliser.

The domestic title race was tight, and going all the way, so it was frustrating for the Serb to pick up a calf injury at Blackburn in March. It kept him out almost a month, returning as a half-time sub at Spurs after damage had already been done, and starting in the 7-0 bashing of Stoke.

Impeccable in a vital win at Liverpool, he then set up Nicolas Anelka before coming off on the hour to a champion's ovation against Wigan as the title was won.
During 2010/11, Ivanovic was an almost ever-present in the back four, his form rarely dipping below excellent as he earned a new five-and-a-half year deal, signed in early February that will keep him at the club until 2016.
There were key goals too, like the late winner at Blackburn in October and a brace against Spartak Moscow in the Champions League group stages, yet his season will be remembered for his committed consistency on the back foot. Boasting one of football's most powerful physiques, he finished a runner-up in the end of season Player of the Year awards.
The appointment of Andre Villas Boas brought a more attacking philosophy to the side, which meant increased competition at right-back from the previously out of favour Bosingwa who was given the nod to start the season. Injury in the centre allowed the Serbian a route back into the team though, but clean sheets were proving hard to come by. To counter this, Villas-Boas shifted Branislav to right-back and recalled Alex for the trip to Blackburn in early November, securing a 1-0 win.
The majority of the campaign has seen him switched between right-back and centre-back, although a string of niggling injuries have kept him sidelined at intermittent periods. However, just like his double at Anfield in the quarter-finals of the Champions League back in 2009, Ivanovic will be remembered for some time for his extra time winner against Napoli that sent the Blues through at the Italians' expense.
March was a profitable month for the Serbian international in terms of goals; he also netted two in a 4-2 away win at Aston Villa.
A booking in  the semi-final of the Champions League sadly ruled the Serbian out of the Final, but he played the full 90 minutes of the FA Cup Final as we beat Liverpool 2-1 at Wembley.
The 2012/13 campaign began on a sour note when Ivanovic was dismissed during our Community Shield defeat to Manchester City, but he made amends a week later, scoring our first goal of the season against Wigan Athletic after only two minutes, while following it up three days later with the fourth goal in our 4-2 home win against Reading.
With new-signing Cesar Azpilicueta now vying for the right-back slot alongside the Serbian, he netted his third goal of the season with a well-taken volley in the 4-1 win against Norwich City.
Ivanovic was handed a one-match ban after seeing red during our 3-2 home defeat against Manchester United, subsequently sitting out the Capital One Cup victory against the same opponents only a few days later.
On his return to the side for the 1-1 draw at Swansea, he played in the centre of defence alongside Gary Cahill in the absence of both John Terry andDavid Luiz, a move which paved the way for Cesar Azpilicueta to make his first league start for the club at right-back.
Signed from Lokomotiv Moscow on a three-and-a-half year contract, Branislav became then manager Avram Grant's second signing in the January 2008 transfer window, following on from the arrival ofNicolas Anelka.

Having begun his career in his native Serbia at local club Sremska Mitrovica, he soon moved to the Serbian capital Belgrade to play for OFK Beograd where he remained for three seasons, joining Lokomotiv in the summer of 2006. He appeared for the Russian side in the Uefa Cup.

International Career
A star of Serbia's Under 21s in both the 2006 and 2007 European Championships, Branislav was voted into the Uefa Team of the Tournament for the more recent event, and successfully graduated into a regular for the full national side.

He made his Serbia and Montenegro debut in June 2006 and was established on the international scene before he was established for Chelsea. No-one played more minutes for Serbia in qualifying for 2010 World Cup where he was a regular although his team didn't make it out the group stage despite defeating Germany. He previously captained Serbia to the final of the European Under 21 Championships.
When Nemanja Vidic stood down as captain of the national side in 2011, Branislav was handed the armband, but the opportunity to captain Serbia at a major tournament fell through when they failed to qualify for Euro 2012.

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