Top four is gone, and so is Cesar Azpilicueta's soul. You have to imagine that on Sunday m...
Top four is gone, and so is Cesar Azpilicueta's soul.
You have to imagine that on Sunday morning, Cesar Azpilicueta woke up, shuddered at the winter chill, walked into the bathroom with the blanket around his shoulders -- and dragging behind him -- like an old, dismayed king, looked into the mirror before starting his morning cleansing routine and said to his reflection: "We will turn things around."
He believed in Chelsea's revival. How could he not?
Human beings are hopeful by nature and exceptionalism tells us that he saw this moment for his club as abnormal, that sooner or later, the Universe would steady itself and Chelsea would get back to their winning ways. He must have believed all of this because on that day he took to Instagram to assure the watching world.
To express his faith in his team and issue a rallying cry ahead of their Monday meeting with Leicester City. He posted a picture of himself staring at what can only be assumed as the abyss while holding a football boot that looks close to a Rorschach Test and calling for Chelsea to "c'mon."
But where Azpi saw hope in those boots, Riyad Mahrez must have stumbled upon the picture and laughed himself into a fit. The deadly Algerian winger had a whole different agenda in his mind. He knew nothing could save the Spanish defender. Not even his newly customized boots.
|Azpilicueta's post on Instagram before the game|
It was paralyzing.
Terry looked as if he had been asked to give a defense of his abuse of Anton Ferdinand all over again. Azpi was there as well. He was the one tasked with defending Mahrez to begin with. But in any video of the assist, you can sense the fear from the defender as soon as Mahrez received the pass. He afforded the winger so much space that you could mistake it for a way of him trying to fix their fractured relationship. Sometimes you have to step back and let the other person miss you.
|Photo via Dailymail|
Much, much worse ... goodness, so much worse is the goal that Mahrez scored himself. This is abuse: emotional, mental, physical and even metaphysical, because, one has to ask, what type of kind god would allow an innocent man like Cesar Azpilicueta to get rinsed like this?
Or, how can Azpi go on believing in a higher power when he's been dragged to the lowest depths of individual suffering? Mahrez broke him. He had Azpi playing leap-frog by himself on international television. The winger had that young man dancing as if he was a body double for John Travolta in Pulp Fiction: The ball had no choice but to go into the top corner. That conclusion was forgone.
Thibaut Courtois may as well have not existed in that moment, he was an obstacle on the road to destiny.
|Azpi and Courtois watch on as Mahrez's beautiful curler finds the top corner|
Just a few days ago, Azpi was full of optimism for himself and his team: the countless losses hadn't beaten him down, his manager's tantrums hadn't deterred him, nor did their position on the table break him. No, he still believed.
That is, until Riyad Mahrez had him shuffling his feet like a nervous kid on his way to ask his crush out on a date. Maybe that's what Azpi was staring out at so deeply in that Instagram picture. When the abyss was staring back at him, it must have revealed to him the cruel future where he would become the victim in countless vines, gifs and tweets. The sound of Mahrez's laughter will haunt him forever.